How to Boot Into MacOS Recovery in UTM on Apple Silicon Mac

Jan 17, 2024 - 1 Comment

MacOS Recovery Mode loaded within UTM on Apple Silicon Mac

If you’ve installed macOS Sonoma into a UTM virtual machine you may get into a situation where you’d either like to restore the VM from a Time Machine backup, or even reinstall Sonoma in the VM, or perform other actions on the virtual machine from Recovery Mode. But, as you likely have noticed by now, booting into recovery on an Apple Silicon Mac requires holding down the Power button.

If you’ve ever attempted to do this within a UTM virtual machine, you’ll quickly notice it doesn’t work – instead, pressing the power button during the boot sequence will lock the Mac screen, as pressing the power button does on all Apple Silicon Macs (M1, M2, M3, etc included).

How do you boot into macOS recovery mode in UTM? It’s actually pretty easy once you learn how.

How to Boot Into MacOS Recovery Mode in UTM on Apple Silicon Macs

  1. Open UTM if you haven’t done so already, and shut down the MacOS virtual machine if its actively running
  2. Now right-click on the MacOS VM at the primary UTM screen and choose “Run Recovery”
  3. How to boot into recovery mode in MacOS on UTM for Apple Silicon Macs

  4. In a moment, the boot menu will appear, here you can choose “Options”
  5. Recovery Mode booted in UTM

  6. You’ll now be in the standard Recovery Mode screen in the MacOS VM within UTM, able to use Time Machine, reinstall macOS, use Safari, Disk Utility, etc
  7. MacOS Recovery Mode booted in UTM on Apple Silicon Mac

All the standard MacOS Recovery Mode options work within the UTM virtual machine.

Exiting from MacOS Recovery Mode in UTM is simply a matter of rebooting the VM, either through UTM, or through the  Apple menu in the virtualized MacOS environment.

If you didn’t figure this out on your own, don’t feel too bad. I’ve been a longtime UTM user and had tried a variety of methods to boot into recovery within a Apple Silicon MacOS UTM VM unsuccessfully, so I poked around the good old Apple web and found this little handy trick from DerFlounder, who points out that this capability was added relatively recently to UTM, which is perhaps why it didn’t register as existing as a feature with me through the right-click contextual menu.

So, if you’re trying to boot into recovery mode on a MacOS UTM VM on an Apple Silicon Mac, use the right-click trick, and away you go.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. Davi says:

    Cool, that is super easy. I always wondered how to do this after they switched booting Macs into Recovery and Safe mode with Apple Silicon.

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