How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac

Feb 9, 2021 - 2 Comments

How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac

Having trouble booting up an Apple Silicon M1 Mac normally? Booting into Safe Mode can help troubleshoot issues on a Mac, and help to determine if a particular problem is software related, MacOS related, or even hardware related. If you have an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac mini however, you’ll find the process of booting into Safe Mode on M1 Macs is different from how it worked on Intel Macs.

Safe Mode makes it easy to boot your Mac while preventing installed software from starting up during the boot process. Rarely, a Mac may not boot normally, and in those cases it’s often due to installed software, which is why booting into safe mode can be a quick way to diagnose some boot problems. Booting into Safe Mode will also automatically perform a check of the Mac’s startup disk, and as a result, the system may take longer to log you in.

Because booting into safe mode is different on Apple Silicon Macs, you can no longer just simply force restart and hold the Shift key, as the process for M1 Macs has changed from Intel Macs. Whether you’re new to Apple Silicon or new to the Mac platform entirely, read on to learn how booting into safe mode works on Macs with Apple Silicon chip architecture.

How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac

If you’re someone who has used Intel-based Macs for years now, you may have already tried pressing the Shift key while booting up to enter Safe Mode and discovered that method no longer works. So let’s check out the new approach instead:

  1. If your Mac is turned on, click on the Apple logo from the menu bar and choose “Shut Down” from the dropdown menu to turn it off.

    How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac
  2. Wait for a few seconds, then press and hold the Touch ID / power button on your Mac to boot it up. Continue holding the power button even if the Apple logo shows up and let go of your finger when you see “Loading startup options” right below the logo.

    How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac
  3. The startup drive and options will now show up on the screen. Hover the mouse cursor over the Startup disk and it’ll show a “Continue” option. Now, press the “Shift” key on your keyboard.

    How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac
  4. Pressing the Shift key while the cursor hovers over the startup disk will now give you the option to “Continue in Safe Mode”. Click on it.

    How to Boot in Safe Mode on Apple Silicon M1 Mac

Doing this will take you to the login screen in a few seconds.

That’s it, you’ve successfully entered Safe Mode on the Mac with Apple Silicon.

The login screen will look almost like you have booted normally, but you can confirm that you’ve entered Safe Mode by looking for the “Safe Boot” indicator which shows up at the top-right corner of the menu bar.

Once you type in your password, you may notice that your Mac is taking longer than usual to log you in. This is due to the fact that your Mac is performing a First Aid check on the startup disk and deleting some system caches. The overall performance of your Mac in Safe Mode may also not be optimal, and some apps may not work quite as expected, but this is to be expected since all the necessary components and drivers aren’t necessarily loaded.

Exiting Safe Mode on Mac with Apple Silicon

When you’re done troubleshooting your Mac, you would want to exit Safe Mode. This is actually pretty straightforward.

All you need to do is click on Apple menu -> Shut Down and then press the power button which will boot your system normally.

Remember this approach is for newer Apple Silicon Macs, if you’re reading this article on an Intel-based Mac, you can learn how to enter Safe Mode on Intel Mac models right here.

Were you able to boot into Safe Mode on your Apple silicon Mac on your first attempt? Were you able to diagnose the problem after booting into Safe Mode? What was the issue and what was the solution? If not, have you tried checking your startup disk for errors? Share any of your personal experiences with safe mode on modern Macs, any relevant thoughts or tips, advice, or other suggestions in the comments below!


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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Jodi says:

    Great article! Easy to follow and fixed my issues with System Preferences errors. Thank you!

  2. Hal says:

    I’m finding it necessary to -click- the “Macintosh HD” icon to get the “Continue” text to show up, rather than just hovering over it.

    Then I can hold down the shift key and get the “Continue in Safe Mode” oval to show up, and then click on that oval while still holding down the shift key.

    This is on a MacBook Air (M1, 2020) as of 4/5/22.

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