A guided tour of M1 Recovery

Hopefully, you seldom visit Recovery. When you’re using an M1 series Mac, you’ll discover that it’s all very different. Gone are the arcane key combinations to enter different modes: one Recovery covers the great majority of your needs, whether it’s running First Aid on your startup disk, running hardware Diagnostics, or starting up in Safe mode.

Here’s a short guided tour of M1 Recovery, for which this is the map:


available as a handy tear-out PDF: M1MacRecovery27

Our journey starts by pressing and holding the Power button at startup, until the display shows Loading Startup Options. From there, you have the following.

Diagnostics, to check your hardware
Once the Startup Options screen appears, press and hold the Command and D keys until your Mac restarts and the Diagnostics Loader menu appears in the main menu bar.

Recovery Main Window, to check startup disk, reinstall macOS, restore from a backup, change security settings
In the Startup Options screen select the Options icon, then click Continue underneath it.
Tools provided include:

  • main window – Restore from Time Machine Backup, Reinstall macOS, Safari (for Help), Disk Utility
  • Apple menu – Startup Disk, Restart, Shut Down
  • Utilities menu – Startup Security Utility, Terminal, Share Disk

Target Disk Mode, to connect to another Mac
Connect Macs using a USB, USB-C or Thunderbolt cable. On the Target, enter Recovery Mode and use the Share Disk command in the Utilities Menu.

Startup Manager, to select which volume from which to boot
In the Startup Options screen wait until all bootable disks have loaded into the list. Select the disk you want to boot from, then click Continue underneath it.

Set default startup volume
In the Startup Options screen select the disk which you wish to make the default boot disk, press and hold the Option key and click Always Use underneath it.

Safe Mode, to flush user caches and disable third-party extensions
In the Startup Options screen select the disk which you wish to boot from in Safe Mode, then press and hold the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode underneath it.

The last question is where is the Recovery you have started up from?

In Big Sur, the primary Recovery system is in its own container (partition) on the internal SSD. This has changed with Monterey, though, and like Intel Macs, the Recovery system normally used is in a volume associated with your immediately previous boot volume, in its container. If there are problems with that, then you should be able to engage the Recovery system in its own container on the internal SSD, as a fallback. If you need to choose that, instead of the normal Power button manoeuvre at startup, press the Power button once briefly without holding it, then immediately press a second time and hold that until the display shows Loading Startup Options for Fallback Recovery.

Additional detail is here and here if you ever need it.