Safe Mode is a start up sequence that only uses the basics of OS X
Hold down the Shift key when starting up your Mac for Safe Mode.
Use Safe Mode to continue trouble shooting your Mac.
What is "Safe Mode" and How Does That Help Me Anyway?Categories: Getting Help
Yes, Macs crash. Yes, they can get fouled up by misbehaving software. No, it's not a virus. It's just that computers (including Macs) are not 100% reliable. Sometimes a component fails. Sometimes software isn't working the way it was meant to. Hopefully it doesn't happen so often that it sours your experience.
But what do you do when your Mac keeps crashing or not starting up all the way? One way to help trouble shoot your Mac is by starting up in Safe Mode.
Safe Mode is a start up sequence that tests your hard drive and shuts down unnecessary parts of Mac OS X so that you at least get the basics going. This is what Apple says is involved:
- It forces a directory check of the startup volume.
- It loads only required kernel extensions (some of the items in /System/Library/Extensions).
- In Mac OS X 10.3.9 or earlier, it runs only Apple-installed startup items (some of the items in /Library/StartupItems and /System/Library/StartupItems - and different than login items).
- Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger only: It disables all fonts other than those in /System/Library/Fonts .
- Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger only: It moves to the Trash all font caches normally stored in /Library/Caches/com.apple.ATS/(uid)/ , where (uid) is a user ID number such as 501.
- Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger only: It disables all startup items and any Login Items.
I'm guessing that "Tiger only" means Tiger and Leopard.
What that means is that you should be able to start your Mac and make some trouble shooting adjustments to see what is causing you problems. Some things won't work, like WiFi (See Dig Deeper for a work around) and some video like DVD player and parts of iMovie.
So how do you start up in Safe Mode?
- Be sure the computer is shut down. Press and hold the power button if necessary.
- Press the power button.
- Immediately after you hear the startup tone, press and hold the Shift key.
Tip: The Shift key should be held as soon as possible after the startup tone but not before.
- Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple and progress indicator (looks like a spinning gear).
Why would you use Safe Mode?
Use Safe Mode when you are trying to figure out why your Mac is giving you trouble. Maybe it keeps crashing or freezing, even after restarting. Maybe you just need to get into your files and get them to another Mac to keep working. Safe Mode should let you access you Mac in most situations to make adjustments or copy files.
I've never had to use Safe Mode on my 5 OS X Macs over the years, but recently my buddy ran into trouble with the screen freezing after start up. We couldn't sort out what was wrong using Safe Mode, but at least we could back things up and then did and Archive and Install from the install disc. Now his Mac is doing just fine.
Safe Mode won't solve your problems, but it should help you down the road to solving your problem.
Have you had to use Safe Mode? Did it work? What tips do you have to share? Let us know in the Comments section below!