Summary: This write-up highlights effective workarounds for a scenario where the macOS Recovery mode is not functioning. The article sheds light on this problem from two angles. One is to address the root cause for this predicament, such as an out-of-date operating system version, corruption of the recovery files, or Mac malware interference. The other is to apply alternative methods to accomplish what you were planning to do in Recovery mode.
The logic of macOS Recovery comes down to loading a combo of specially crafted maintenance tools from a separate disk partition that contains a system recovery image as well as a copy of the macOS installer.
This mode provides the following options:
There are several symptoms indicating that the macOS Recovery mode is out of order. When you press and hold the Command + R key combination at boot time, you may come across one of the following mishaps:
Now that you have figured out that the macOS Recovery mode is not workinglet us take a dive into the most common reasons for this condition and the corresponding fixes.
Even if all of your attempts to access the Recovery mode end up futile, there are several more techniques you can use to reinstall the system or restore your Mac. Be advised that these mechanisms depend on the macOS or OS X version your machine is running. Now, let us go over these different scenarios.
Unfortunately, your Mac has no built-in Recovery utility, so you will need to reinstall the operating system using the disk your machine came with.
You can benefit from the Internet Recovery feature to restore your Mac. Keep in mind that it will not work unless you have an active Internet connection. Here is what you need to do:
In case neither the macOS Recovery nor the Internet Recovery mode is working, and if there is no disk with Mac OS X pre-installed, your last resort is to create a bootable installer and use it to install the operating system. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyDrive
In this command, the “Applications” part denotes that the installation files are in the Mac’s Applications folder. The “MyDrive” component is the name of the USB drive to which the files will be saved. The “/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/” part can be replaced with whatever macOS version you are up to installing (the one you have previously downloaded installation files for). As an illustration, it can be “/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/”.
Before you proceed, make sure there is an active Internet connection and double-check if your machine supports the macOS build you are about to install. Also, be advised that the procedure is different for M1 Macs compared to Macs with other processors.
Having reinstalled the operating system, you can get down to macOS data recovery using a backup or a program if you have one or another.
The Recovery utility is a significant element of your digital well-being as it allows you to get your Mac back on track after a system failure. But a predicament where macOS Recovery is not working as intended is more common than you might have thought it was. Hopefully, the tips and tricks above will help you fix the issue for good.
David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 17 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs Privacy-PC.com and MacSecurity.net projects that present expert opinions on contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, malware removal, threat intelligence, online privacy, and white hat hacking. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.
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