DFU Mode Mac: What Is and How to Use It?

Roxanne updated on Sep 22, 2022 to Knowledge Center

It is common for Macs to face technical issues. Apple Macs have been known to get stuck in a restart loop. If your Mac runs into issues with errors like this then you can follow the guide below and get it working again.

You can reset or restore your device for a quick fix. However, you can exhaust all your options and still can't get your Mac to function normally.

This is where the DFU mode Mac offers come in and helps you revive or restore a Mac.

What Is DFU Mode Mac?

DFU mode stands for Device Firmware Update mode. The primary purpose of using DFU mode on your Mac is to restore or add little changes to your operating system. The mode is much like the Recovery Mode but an even deeper restore mode than the recovery mode.

The DFU mode helps you access many recovery tools from the standard Mac Recovery Mode. When you enter DFU mode on macOS, your device is still on, and the operating system doesn't get loaded up. Alternatively, you have a chance to add any changes you want since the macOS is not running.

The following are some situations where DFU mode can come in handy:

  • When Mac Recovery Mode is not working
  • When your device failed to reinstall macOS
  • When your MacBook won't turn on
  • When your device failed to finish macOS updates
  • When you are unable to boot into the current OS Internet Recovery 

What Is the Difference Between DFU Mode and Recovery Mode?

Let us now discuss the differences between DFU Mode and Recovery Mode. This will also help you understand when to use these modes and why. 

The similarity between these modes is that they are both used to recover a non-bootable Mac without loading the operating system. But do they work similarly, too? The answer is no. 

In short, macOS Recovery is part of the operating system that helps you repair your internal disk, restore your files from a Time Machine backup, reinstall macOS, and more.

On the contrary, DFU Mode users can enter a state without loading the operating system. Since macOS is not running, you can fix bugs and even backup and restore your Mac to a workable state.

How to Use DFU Mode Mac?

Lastly, we will look at the steps to enter the DFU Mode on Mac and the setup requirements for the very same.

How to Enter DFU Mode on Mac?

The following steps will help you to enter DFU mode on various macOS devices. The one important thing to remember is that there won't be any screen activity while your device enters the DFU mode.

DFU Mode on iMac/iMac Pro  

Step 1. This step is for everyone with the 2020 version and it starts by disconnecting your device from power. Then, by connecting a cable to the Thunderbolt port next to your Ethernet port.

dfu mode on imac

Step 2. Press the power button for three seconds and reconnect your device to power simultaneously. You will see no activity on your iMac as it starts in the DFU mode. 

DFU Mode on Mac Mini

Step 1. First, connect your device to a monitor and disconnect your device from power. Further, connect a cable to the Thunderbolt port. 

dfu mode on macmini

Step 2. Press the power button and reconnect your device back to power. Continue this for the next three seconds to enter DFU mode.

DFU Mode on Mac Pro

Step 1. Your Mac Pro is recommended to be connected to a monitor like a Mac mini. Disconnect it from the power and connect a cable to the Thunderbolt port.

dfu mode on macpro

Note: If you have a desktop Mac Pro, connect to the Thunderbolt port far away from the power button. On the other hand, if it is a rackmount Mac Pro, click it close to the power button. 

Step 2. Lastly, press the power button while reconnecting your device and wait for three seconds.

DFU Mode on Apple MacBook Pro and Air laptops

Step 1. Start shutting down your computer and then connect a cable to the left Thunderbolt port. 

dfu mode on macbook pro

Step 2. Consecutively, press "right shift + left option + left control" while pressing the power button and continue this for another three seconds. 

Now that we know the steps to enter the DFU mode, let us check the requirements to achieve this.

Setup Requirements for DFU Mode on Mac

The following are required to successfully boot your device through the DFU mode.

  • A Mac device facing trouble (Target Mac) and another device with no technical issues (Host Mac).
  • Both devices should have the same OS version. OS version that is 10.15.6 or later is suggested. 
  • Both devices should have USB-C ports. And to connect then, the original Apple white charge cable is advised to use. 
  • Make sure the host device with no issues has internet access. 
  • Always connect the USB-C cable plugged into the Target Mac in a specified port according to your device. If it is an Intel MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, connect the cable to the front USB-C port closest to the trackpad. If it is M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air Mac Mini, or M2 MacBook Air, connect it to the back side and farthest from the trackpad.  

Final Verdict

In conclusion, even though the process of using DFU mode on Mac might be confusing initially, it is pretty straightforward when you do it correctly. Recovery Mode and DFU Mode help restore your device from further damage due to software issues. 

You can resolve technical issues by following the steps discussed in this article. But always remember to back up your data before updating your device. It is always better to be on the safe side. 


let us take a look into a few questions relating to the DFU mode for further clarification. 

1. How Do I Restore My iPhone In DFU Mode?

DFU mode in the iPhone follows similar steps as in the Mac devices. 

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable and launch iTunes. Next, turn off your iPhone. 

Step 2. Next, hold your power button and home button simultaneously for 10 seconds. Afterward, release the power button but continue holding the home button until you get a message that your iPhone might be in Recovery mode. Click "OK", and you will enter the DFU mode. 

2. Will DFU Mode Erase Data?

When you exit the DFU mode, it will reset your devices and erase all your data. Therefore, backing up your data is essential. Always remember to back up your data from time to time.

3. What Happens When You Put Your Phone In DFU Mode?

DFU mode is helpful when there is a technical or software issue that the Recovery mode could not change. When you put your phone in DFU mode, it resets your phone and thereby solves the problem. But it will erase all your data, so always back them up.

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