What is macOS Recovery and How to Use It

What is macOS Recovery and How to Use It

7th Aug 2020

Part of the normal wear and tear of most gadgets would be encountering software issues now and then. MacBooks, although reliable and high-quality, will inevitably experience this, too.

The good news is Apple has made it easy for users to tinker with their software settings or troubleshoot their laptops. So, you can do things like recovering an older version of your operating system, but keep in mind that upgrading to a newer OS will always be easier than going back. How, you might ask? With the use of macOS Recovery.

This guide will help you properly use this feature and know when it’s time to use it.

What is macOS Recovery

The macOS Recovery is the built-in recovery system of your Mac, allowing you to fix specific software issues. You can boot your laptop from this mode and access or repair core files.

Uses of macOS Recovery

If you’re not sure when to use this module, the information below will help. This handy feature is best used in the following scenarios:

  • Wipe the data on your Mac

If you’re planning to sell or give away your laptop, you must first wipe your device clean of all your personal and sensitive information. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to do this via the macOS Recovery module. This way, you don’t need to worry about getting hacked or your information getting compromised when your device is with a new user.

  • Troubleshooting problems

If you want to look up more troubleshooting settings while in macOS Recovery, you may do so via the working Safari browser present in the module. This helps you further do troubleshooting tests without having to exit the recovery state and perform everything smoothly.

  • Repair disk utility

You can manage your disks within the recovery module, as well. It allows you to repair, diagnose, format, set up, and erase your drives depending on your needs. It opens up the same Disk Utility settings in macOS but allows you to perform this in conjunction with other fixes (such as repairs and reinstalls) at the same time.

  • Current macOS version issues

The module is helpful if you have software-related issues that can be resolved via reinstalling your current version of macOS. Remember to back up your important files so that you don’t lose anything during the installation. Your data will be erased during this process.

  • Clean install of macOS

If your current OS is corrupted or cannot be saved, it’s better to reformat your laptop and do a clean reinstallation of your desired macOS version. You can choose your current one, the latest version available, or the stock OS your laptop came in. Again, before you do this, backing up your data is necessary.

It will also take a while, depending on your internet connection and the device performance, so make sure you set aside a couple of hours for installation and tweaking of settings afterward.

  • Backup from Time Machine

If you want to go back to a previous version of your OS and retrieve all the files and settings in place there, you can do so by restoring your laptop from a Time Machine backup.

This is a viable option versus wiping your computer clean, though, you can only do this if you have been faithfully backing up your laptop using Time Machine and the necessary external drive. To back up or recover data, enable Time Machine on your device and insert the external disk to use or that contains the backup.

  • Internet connection problems

If you need to troubleshoot your internet connection, the network tools found in the macOS Recovery module offer solutions to your issue. You may select the Utilities option to open the network diagnostic tool. If you’re an advanced user, you may modify your network connection information to fix your problem.

How to Enter macOS Recovery

The following are the steps you should take to start up from macOS Recovery:

1. Wait until Mac turns off completely. Power it on again, but immediately press and hold the Command (⌘) and R keys together.

2. Keep holding until you see the Apple logo. In some cases, the spinning globe or similar startup screens may appear. You can check this support topic from Apple if your Mac doesn’t start up all the way.

3. It’s common for the startup screen to ask for your password. Simply enter your Mac’s admin details to proceed.

4. You’ve booted into macOS Recovery when you see this screen below:

Source: Apple

5. Once you're in the recovery module, you may choose any of the four options to proceed with your troubleshooting:

    • Restore From Time Machine Backup: Restores your Mac software and files based on the Time Machine backup.
    • Reinstall macOS: Download and reinstall macOS.
    • Get Help Online: Look up troubleshooting articles from the Apple support website; Safari plug-ins and extensions are disabled.
    • Disk Utility: Repair or erase your disk or other storage devices.

6. If you want to quit macOS Recovery, you can choose the Restart or Shut Down options from the Apple menu.

When macOS Recovery Doesn’t Start

There may be instances when your Mac can’t start from the built-in macOS recovery module. When it happens, it will try to connect to macOS Recovery online. Instead of an Apple logo, you’ll see a spinning globe on startup:

Spinning globe screen

Source: Apple

You can also manually start up from macOS Internet Recovery using any of the following key combinations:

  • Option-Command (⌘)-R
  • Shift-Option-Command (⌘)-R

If this fails, you see the following image appear on your screen:

Spinning globe with exclamation point

Source: Apple

This means that there is an error in booting macOS Recovery. You can try the following steps to solve the issue:

  • Make sure you have a stable and fast internet connection. In most cases, you will be prompted to choose a Wi-Fi network you can connect to. If not, move your mouse pointer at the top of the screen until you see the Wi-Fi menu. You should be able to choose your network then.
  • Alternately, boot from built-in recovery by pressing the Command-R keys at startup.
  • Change the way you connect to the Internet (Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi, or vice versa).
  • Choose a different Wi-Fi or an Ethernet network. Specific network configurations may not allow internet access that the macOS Recovery needs.
  • It may be a temporary problem. Try to boot into macOS Recovery again later.
  • Start up from another disk or volume or use a bootable installer to reinstall macOS.

If You Need More Help

By using the steps above, you should be able to use the recovery module and fix common software glitches. If it’s not possible to do it on your own, you may contact Macs4u for a support session even if you did not buy your computer from them.

All MacBooks come with macOS Recovery—even refurbished Apple computers for sale. If you’re looking for an affordable option to get this highly coveted laptop, approaching reputable resellers like Macs4U is the way to go. Not only do they offer a complimentary support session with your purchase, but their tech specialists are always available to assist you with problems you may encounter with your device.

Check out their extensive product range today!