Recover Data from a Non-Booting or Crashed Mac [5 DIY Methods]

"Hi, My MacBook Pro crashed and is not booting up now despite several attempts. The system has my valuable data, and I don't want to lose it. Please help me out. Thanks!"

If you face a similar situation where you're stuck with a non-booting or crashed Mac system, you don't need to worry. The data on your Mac can still be retrieved even if you cannot access it on your crashed Mac directly.

You'll easily and securely get back your data from a non-booting Mac by following the DIY methods listed in this blog.

DIY Methods to recover data from a non-booting or crashed Mac

Recovering data from a working Mac is easy as you can apply any available backup & recovery option on the system. However, when it comes to a crashed Mac, it's a different story.

You need to perform certain specialized procedures to secure the data saved on your non-bootable Macintosh HD. Here are 5 DIY methods to recover your data from a non-booting Mac.

Method 1: Easiest procedure to recover data on a non-booting or crashed Mac

Using Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac, you can recover your data from a crashed or non-booting Mac in a few easy steps.

When your Mac fails to boot, your macOS doesn't load, and thus the system becomes inaccessible. The software helps to get back the data without using any external bootable device.

Method 1: Recover data from M1 and T2 chip-powered Macs

Note: Before you proceed, make sure your Mac is switched off.

  • Recover data from a crashed or non-booting M1 Mac

Step 1: Press and hold the power button (or Touch ID) until Recovery Mode appears.

Step 2: Select Options and then click Continue.


Step 3: In the macOS Recovery window, click Next to go to the login option.


Step 4: Enter your Admin password and click Continue.

Note: Before proceeding to the next step, ensure that your Mac is connected to an active Wi-Fi network.

Step 5: On the Recovery Mode screen, click Utilities > Terminal.


Step 6: In the Terminal window, enter the following command and hit Return.

sh <(curl


Note: If you choose to type the above command instead of copy-pasting it, do mind the space between sh and curl and http.

Step 7: Accept the License Agreement to open the Stellar Data Recovery UI.

  • For all other Mac Machines (including T2 chip powered Mac)

Step 1: Press the Power/Touch ID button to turn on your Mac and immediately press Command + R to boot your Mac to Recovery Mode.

Step 2: Connect your Mac to an active Wi-Fi network and click Utilities > Terminal.

Step 3: Insert the following command into the Terminal window and hit Return.

sh <(curl
Note: Be careful while typing the above command, and ensure there is a space between sh and < curl and http.

Step 4: Accept the License Agreement to launch Stellar Data Recovery Professional.

Once you have accessed the Stellar Data Recovery Professional UI, follow the steps depicted below to recover data on Mac in three easy steps.


GIF Caption: Three steps to recover data from a crashed or non-bootable Mac

Method 2: Use Time Machine backup to recover data if your Mac won't boot

If you have created a backup of your data on the Time Machine app, you can use it to recover the data from your crashed device. Here's how to do it.

Step 1: Connect the Time Machine backup drive to your Mac and boot your Mac into Recovery Mode.

Step 2: Choose the Restore from Time Machine Backup option from the macOS Utilities menu.


Step 3: Select the backup you want to restore from the list of backups and click Continue.


Step 4: Choose the destination drive to save the backup data and click Continue.

Step 5: Erase the destination drive and then click Restore.

It may take some time to recover your data to the destination drive depending on the volume of data. So be patient and let it complete.

Method 3: Use Target Disk Mode to recover data from a non-booting or crashed Mac

The Target Disk Mode can be used to transfer data from one Mac to another. To do so on your crashed system, you need a working Mac machine, a Thunderbolt to Firewire, or a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter cable.

Note: Before proceeding further, disable FileVault encryption on a healthy Mac.

Follow the steps below to transfer the data stored on the non-booting or crashed Mac to a working Mac device.

Step 1: Connect the crashed Mac with the healthy Mac using Thunderbolt or Firewire.


Step 2: Turn on the crashed device while holding the T key.

Step 3: As soon as your crashed system turns on, it will show as an external drive on your working Mac.

Step 4: Copy the files you want to recover from the crashed Macintosh drive and transfer it to your healthy Mac.

Method 4: Copy files by creating a disk image of crashed Mac

This method will work only if the internal data of your crashed or non-booting Mac is not corrupted. Although, the most probable reason why your Mac won't boot is corrupt system files or internal hard drive. To use this method, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Boot your Mac device into macOS Recovery Mode.

Step 2: Connect an empty external hard drive to your Mac. Make sure the hard drive capacity is more than your Mac's internal hard drive.

Step 3: Select the Disk Utility option from the macOS Utilities window.


Step 4: Select the startup disk of your Mac and click the File option adjacent to the Apple menu icon.

Step 5: Click New Image > Blank Image from the drop-down menu.


Step 6: Fill in the required information for the disk image, choose the external hard drive to save it, and designate its format as read/write.

Step 7: Click Save and then click Done.

This is a complex method, and you need to be careful while using it.

Method 5: Use APFS Snapshot to recover data in macOS Recovery Mode

APFS Snapshot is a feature that generates updated copies of a drive's state at regular intervals. It allows you to restore data in extreme situations like a non-booting or crashed Mac.

Note: The macOS rolls back your system to a previous healthy state using the APFS Snapshot, so there are chances of losing some data. Use this method only if you want to recover any older data.

Here's how you can restore your data using the APFS snapshot.

Step 1: Start your Mac into macOS Recovery Mode.

Step 2: Select Recover from Time Machine in the macOS Utilities options.

Step 3: Click Continue to select the startup disk with the snapshots stored.

Step 4: Select the most recent APFS Snapshot from the list and click Continue.


Once the restoring process completes, your Mac will automatically reboot.

There are certain limitations to this method. First, your startup drive must have been formatted as APFS, and it works only on macOS Sierra or higher versions.

Remember, if your Mac doesn't have sufficient space, it may skip creating the APFS snapshot, in which case this method is of no use.


A crashed or non-booting Mac is indeed a cause of worry, and it may be disastrous if you don't know what to do next. If your Mac won't boot, it renders your stored data inaccessible. In such a situation, you must know the failsafe methods of Mac data recovery.

Although all the methods listed here are effective and secure, each method has some limitation except the first method. So, data recovery using a powerful and professional data recovery software for Mac is the easiest and most effective way to securely retrieve every bit of your data from a crashed Macintosh system.

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About The Author
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Santosh Kumar Gupta linkdin Icon

Data recovery expert on Mac & Windows platforms, with 10-year experience in writing

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