How to Fix Mac Recovery Mode Not Working?

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When Mac is unbootable, you can boot in to Mac Recovery mode and use the options to solve the issue. What if you are unable to boot in Mac Recovery Mode? In this article, you will learn what do to when Recovery Mode is not working and how to fix it easily.  

recovery mode option

Mac Recovery mode is very handy tool that plays vital role whenever there is a need to reinstall Mac OS, recovering data from time machine backup or when you come across mac is unbootable troubles. However, when Mac recovery mode fails things can get complicated and you might not be able to use any other options from Recovery Mode. Let’s understand Why Recovery Mode is important on Mac.

What does recovery mode do?

Mac OS Recovery is often referred to as Mac Recovery Mode (Command + R) that was introduced with OS X 10.7 Lion. Mac Recovery Mode is a dedicated partition of the disk that contains a recovery image and an OS X installer duplicate and aids in troubleshooting issues related to Mac drive. 

Mac Recovery Mode is very useful under below mentioned scenarios:

  1. Recovery mode is used to repair the system errors when disk utility fails to repair.
  2. When you have accidentally erased the Mac disk utility and unable to recover Mac data
  3. Recovery Mode is used during the installation of Mac OS and while taking a backup from Time backup machine.
  4. Recovery mode is primarily used to troubleshoot problems during start-up failure

Why Command + R is Not Working?

There are a number of reasons that cause Recovery Mode not working error in Mac. Some of the possible reasons that lead to the Recovery Mode not working is listed below:

    1. When Recovery Partition is missing or damaged you may end up with Recovery mode not working problem.
    2. Running a Mac OS older than High Sierra then you won’t be having all the Recovery options. In such cases, the Mac recovery mode does not work.
    3. File system error leads to Recovery mode not working problem
    4. Sometimes, if keyboard is broken or damaged, you may be unable to enter Recovery Mode using the shortcuts Command + R
    5. Corruption in the drive leads to not working of Recovery mode in Mac and leads to an error Disk Utility can’t repair this drive.

What to Do When Recovery Mode on Mac Won’t Work?

When you can’t boot into Recovery mode using Command + R, you can try any of the below-given approaches to fix Mac recovery mode not working issue.

A few basic workarounds to enter into Recovery Mode:

  1. If your Mac computer is too old, it doesn’t have the Recovery partition. If you want to solve the issue, you need to reinstall the macOS.
  2. If Command R is not working on your Mac, you need to check whether it is a keyboard problem. To verify this, you can disconnect the current keyboard from your Mac and try connecting another keyboard that can normally work with your Mac
  3. If you are using a Bluetooth keyboard, make sure it is successfully connected to your computer. If not, Command + R will not work.

Method 1: Time Machine to Fix Recovery Mode and Recover Data 

Time machine is a Mac built-in solution for backing up Mac OS. You can connect your external drive over USB or network. Time Machine backs up every hour, deleting older backups as the drive starts running out of space.

Follow steps to know how to use Time Machine backup and fix Mac Recovery mode is not working.

fix recovery mode not working with Time back up

    1. Reboot your Mac and tap on Options tab when you hear the start-up music.
    2. Select your Time Machine drive and wait for a while. The connected Time machine boots after a while.
    3. Choose the Recovery Drive to launch Mac. If this method doesn’t yield the expected result, try using the next method using disk utility.

Method 2: Recover Data from Bootable Disk drive by Reinstalling the Mac OS

Whenever you are trying to use disk utility, it is required to make use of a USB flash drive that stores a bootable OS X installer to fix the Mac system.

Now, you can create and install a bootable OS X installer drive and fix Mac not working in recovery mode issue.

    1. Restart your Mac. Constantly tap the Options button until you hear a sound.
    2. Next, connect the bootable installer drive to your Mac.
    3. Select the drive from the popup list. Mac will restart then you proceed to repair the Mac.After the completion of the process, check for the new updated OS of Mac. If this process fails to install the OS, try using Internet Recovery Mode.

Method 3: Use Internet Recovery Mode

If your Mac fails to create a partition for the Recovery HD, you will not be able to use normal Recovery Mode. If your computer pops up with Recovery Mode not working issue, it will automatically start with Internet Recovery Mode.

Newer Macs are able to boot directly from an internet connection, even with no Recovery partition available. Here is how to use macOS Internet Recovery. Internet recovery mode can only reinstall the version of Mac OS that was originally used by the Mac computer.

    1. Reboot Mac computer and long press on Option + Command + R
    2. Hold the keys until you see a globe photo and progress bar.
    3. If you use the Wi-Fi, Select the proper wireless connection
    4. Wait for a while and then follow the steps to finish the process.

If you use the Wi-Fi, Select the proper wireless connection. Wait for a while and then follow the steps to finish the process.

Method 4: Reinstall OS to Restore Recovery Mode

If none of the above methods worked to solve Recovery Mode not working issue, try reinstalling the Mac OS by clicking the Reinstall OS X tab from the Mac OS utility list and agreeing with the subsequent prompts.

All the above-mentioned solution can hold good to recover data from Mac only when it is saved previously. As a matter of fact, if you are unable to fix the issue recovery mode not working on Mac and wondering how to recover data. It is recommended to make use of SFWare Mac hard drive recovery software to recover data lost due to recovery mode not working error. 

SFWare Mac hard drive recovery software is designed with a robust scan engine that helps in recovering data even when recovery mode is not working. The tool easily recovers the data regardless of any file system say APFS, FAT, ExFAT or Mac OS Extended, etc. Download and try the tool for free now. 

Free Download for Mac

Important Note: Install SFWare Mac hard drive recovery tool in a different Mac computer and connect the drive you want to recover data from through target disk mode. 

Also Read: Recover data from laptop hard drive


Data loss from the Mac drive is inevitable when Mac recovery mode is not working. With the help of all the above-mentioned scenarios, you can fix Mac recovery mode and also recover data with SFWare Mac hard drive recovery tool. 

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