An illustrated guide to Recovery on Apple silicon Macs

Thanks to the magic of virtualisation, I can at long last offer a fully illustrated guide to Recovery Mode and all its features and tools on Apple silicon Macs. For details of how to use each of these, see my more extensive article.

Enter Recovery Mode

To enter Recovery Mode on an Apple silicon Mac, press and hold the Power button until the display shows Loading Startup Options, then release it.


If your Mac has a second boot disk and it’s running Monterey or later, it has Recovery volumes which are paired with each of your bootable systems. This is most important if you want to change boot security, and you can do that for a boot volume group when your Mac is in the paired Recovery Mode for that particular bootable system. Decide which of those you want to use, then:

  1. select that boot disk in the Startup Disk pane,
  2. restart,
  3. check it’s in the correct system,
  4. shut it down,
  5. then after at least ten seconds start it up into Recovery Mode by holding the Power button as above.

If there’s a problem with Recovery Mode and your Mac has previously had a macOS update installed, you can instead enter Fallback Recovery Mode. Press the Power button twice in rapid succession, and on the second of those presses hold the button until the display shows Loading Startup Options, then release it. The only drawback with this is that Startup Security Utility can’t be used to make any changes to boot security.


Startup Options

To enter Diagnostics Mode, press and hold the Command and D keys until your Mac restarts and the Diagnostics Loader menu appears in the main menu bar. Follow the instructions from there to perform diagnostic testing.

To restart in Safe Mode, 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.


To set the default startup volume, select the disk which you wish to make the default boot disk, press and hold the Option key and click Always Use underneath it. Then restart when you want to boot from that volume.

To use other tools in Recovery Mode, select the Options icon and click Continue underneath it. You may then be prompted to select a user you know the password for. Do that and click on Next. Enter the password for that user and click Continue.


Recovery Options


To restore from a Time Machine backup, select that item and click Continue.


If this doesn’t find or recognise the Time Machine backup you want to use, click Other Server… to locate it.


To install macOS, select that item and click Continue.


You’ll then pass through the licence agreement and can select which disk to install macOS on, but you don’t get a choice of which version to install.


To read Apple’s help information on Recovery Mode and its tools, or browse the web, select Safari and click Continue.


To check and repair volumes, and perform other storage management, select Disk Utility and click Continue.


Recovery Utilities


Access these through the Utilities menu.

To change the Security Policy for the paired boot volume group, open Startup Security Utility.


You’ll normally have to select the startup disk before you can make any changes to its security policy, then click Security Policy….

This should normally be at Full Security.


To run that boot volume group at Reduced Security, for example to allow the loading of third-party kernel extensions, select Reduced Security instead, then tick the option you want and click OK.


To open Terminal to run commands there, open Terminal from the Utilities menu.


Note that you currently get bash rather than zsh.

To put that Mac’s disk into Shared Disk mode, select the Share Disk… command and follow the instructions.

To browse the Installer log, select that command from the Window menu.


To shut down or restart your Mac, use the commands in the Apple menu. The only way to return to any of the options offered in the initial screen, such as starting up in Safe mode, is to shut down and enter Recovery Mode again.