Mac Recovery Mode is designed for users to self-troubleshooting various problems. Pressing Command + R, you can boot into Recovery Mode to repair the startup disk, reinstall macOS, or prevent the Mac from starting up normally. But sometimes things would go wrong. Users might have trouble booting their Mac into Recovery Mode. If you have encountered the same problem, then you will need this article.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Boot into Recovery Mode Turn off your Mac first, and press...Full steps
Fix 2. Check Keyboard Connections Disconnect your current keyboard...Full steps
Fix 3. Create Bootable Installer Open Terminal, paste one of the commands...Full steps
Fix 4. Boot Mac in Safe Mode choose the Apple menu > Shut Down...Full steps
Fix 5. Restore Time Machine Backup Press the power button and immediately press...Full steps
Fix 6. Reinstall OS Press and hold the Option + Command + R key...Full steps

But before checking the solutions, it's better for you to understand the possible reasons why Mac Command R is not working.

Possible Reasons of Mac Won't Boot into Recovery Mode

Your Mac failed to boot into Recovery Mode usually happens without notice. Below are some of the most possible reasons.

  1. 1. Your Mac is the M1 Mac. M1 Mac is introduced in November 2020. There is a new way for users to enter Recovery Mode on M1 Mac.
  2. 2. Your Mac is too old. For computers running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or older, they don't have a recovery partition. And that's why you can't press Command + R to boot into Recovery Mode.
  3. 3. Keyboard connection failure. If you are using a Bluetooth keyboard, it's possible that the keyboard is not connected to your Mac.
  4. 4. Your Recovery partition is damaged or deleted.

After understanding the possible reasons why you can't boot into recovery mode on your Mac, now you can follow the given methods to solve the problem.

Method 1. Boot into Recovery Mode for M1 Mac

Here are the detailed steps of how to enter Recovery on an M1 Mac.

Step 1. Turn off your Mac first, and long-press the on button.

Step 2. When the Apple logo appears you'll see text informing you that, if you continue holding the power button, you will access startup options.

Step 3. Select Options > Continue, and this will open Mac Recovery.

M1 Mac boot into Recovery Mode

Method 2. Check Mac Keyboard Connections

This method is to help you to confirm that the problem is not caused by keyboard failure. You can disconnect your current keyboard, and connect another one that can normally work with another Mac to see if you can boot your Mac into Recovery Mode.

If you can, then your keyboard may be broken. You can change to a new one. If you can't, then you can try other methods.

Method 3. Create Bootable Installer

To create a bootable installer, you need a USB flash drive with at least 14GB in size, and a downloaded installer for macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, or El Capitan. You can download the installer on Apple's official website. The simplest way is to create through Mac Terminal. Here are the detailed steps:

Step 1. Connect the prepared USB flash drive to your Mac.

Step 2. Open Terminal, paste one of the following commands in it.

Big Sur:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

High Sierra:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

El Capitan:
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\

Step 3. Press Return to enter the command.

Step 4. Enter your administrator password and press Return again.

Step 5. When prompted, type Y to confirm that you want to erase the volume.

Step 6. After the volume is erased, you will receive a notice saying that Terminal would like to access files on a removable volume. Click OK to allow the copy to proceed. 

Step 7. When Terminal informs you that it's done, the volume will have the same name as the installer you downloaded, such as Install macOS Big Sur. You can now quit Terminal.

Method 4. Boot Mac in Safe Mode

Safe Mode can help you determine if the problem is caused by software loaded when your Mac starts up. Here's how to start up your Mac in safe mode.

Step 1. On your Mac, choose the Apple menu > Shut Down. After your Mac shuts down, wait 10 seconds.

Step 2. Restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold the Shift key.

Step 3. Release the Shift key when you see the login window.

Step 4. Log in to your Mac, now you're in the safe mode.

Boot Mac in Safe Mode

Method 5. Restore Mac with Time Machine Backup

If you have backed up your Mac with Time Machine before, you can use the Time Machine backup files to restore your Mac. Here’s how you can do it.

Step 1. Shut down your Mac first and then connect the Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.

Step 2. Press the power button and immediately press and hold the Option key.

Step 3. When you see the startup manager screen, you can release the Option key.

Step 4. Select the backup drive and click Return.

Step 5. Your Mac will boot into an OS X installer type screen. Here you can choose to restore from one of the backups.

related articles

Solved: USB Flash Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

Is the USB flash drive not showing up on Mac after inserting it in the USB port? Find solutions here. Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac when you want to recover data from a USB drive not recognized.

USB flash drive not showing up on Mac

Method 6. Reinstall OS with Mac Internet Recovery

The last method you can try is to boot into Internet Recovery to reinstall macOS from Apple's server. 

Step 1. Shut down your Mac first. 

Step 2. Press the power button and immediately press and hold the Option + Command + R key.

Step 3. Wait until you see a spinning icon with a progress bar appear on the screen.

Note: Your Mac should be connected to a strong internet connection.

Reinstall OS with Mac Internet Recovery

Bonus Tip: How to Recover Data from Mac

Although Mac computers are advanced enough, accidents can happen. An OS crash or an accident may lead to permanent data loss, especially when you don't have a Time Machine backup, you will have no way to find back your lost data.

EaseUS, as a pioneer in the field of data recovery, has developed exclusive and safe data recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac to help users recover their data. With this tool, users can quickly restore deleted or lost data on Mac in seconds, and no technical experience is required.

Here is a detailed guide on how to use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac to recover data. You can download this tool first and follow the guide to have a try.

Step 1. Select the location to scan

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac and choose the hard drive, SSD,  SD card, USB flash drive, or TF card where you lost data. Click "Search for lost files" to start scanning.

Note: Before data recovery, you'd better click "Disk Backup" from the left sidebar to create a backup of your Mac to avoid further data loss. After backing up, the software can recover data from the Mac backup, and your computer can wirte new data again.

select a location and click search for lost files

Step 2. Filter lost Mac data

The software will automatically scan for lost data on MacBook/iMac. When the scan completes, filter wanted data through the "Type" and "Path" buttons.

filter lost files in types

Step 3. Recover lost data or files

Double-click a file to preview it. Then, click the "Recover" button to restore the lost data to another place. 

click recover to recover lost data

The Bottom Line

The reason why your Mac won't boot into Recovery Mode can be divided into two aspects. One is hardware malfunction, that is your keyboard may be broken. Another is there's something wrong with your Mac's recovery partition.

In this article, we have listed comprehensive solutions. No matter why your Mac won't boot into Recovery Mode, you can try to solve it with the provided solutions. What's more, a data recovery tool is also included on this page. You can have a free trial if you are interested in it.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors and data recovery specialists of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is mainly good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization of RAID 0, 5, and 10.

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Written by Jean

Jean has been working as a professional website editor for quite a long time. Her articles focus on topics of computer backup, data security tips, data recovery, and disk partitioning. Also, she writes many guides and tutorials on PC hardware & software troubleshooting. She keeps two lovely parrots and likes making vlogs of pets. With experience in video recording and video editing, she starts writing blogs on multimedia topics now.

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