How to start Mac OS X in Safe Mode for troubleshooting

There are some times when troubleshooting of complex issues on a Mac can be challenging. As we all know, the most efficient way to find solutions for serious issues in any Operating System is using it in safe mode, which enables the operating system to run in most compatible configurations. Since the OS X run in a minimized boot environment while Safe boot mode is On, you can easily find out whether any add-on or third-party extensions making any kind of issues with the Operating System during the standard boot process. Generally, safe mode allows you to narrow down the reasons that conflicting the smooth running of your Mac.

What is safe mode?

Safe Mode is a great feature, which helps you diagnose and troubleshoot the issues conflicting with the OS X. It boots the operating system differently than the normal boot mode, by blocking additionally installed Mac OS X apps and third-party extensions from loading into the Operating System, limiting some features, disposing some caches, amongst other cutbacks. With bare minimum of extensions, applications and other features makes troubleshooting a lot easier. Unlike normal boot process, in order to boot up mac in Safe Mode may take more time, that’s because OS assumes you are booting in Safe Mode because of some kind of issues makes it performs a deep directory check of startup drive.

How to boot a Mac into Safe Mode?

To start Mac OS X in safe mode, reboot your Mac while pressing the Shift Key on the keyboard and hold it down until you see the Apple logo with the spinning gear below it. Depending on installed Mac OS X version, you may see a solid progress bar or spinning gear. Once the Mac completes the boot process, the OS X login window will appear while showing the text ‘Safe boot’.

Besides using the keyboard way, this can be achieved by running the ‘nvram’ command in OS X terminal window. Following is the terminal command that helps you get access to the Safe Mode.

sudo nvram boot-args="-x"

If you would like to use Verbose Mode as well as Safe Mode, then use the following command:

sudo nvram boot-args=”-x -v”

However, there is a limitation in using this command, it will force the operating system to boot into Safe Mode whenever you turn on your Apple Mac. So after the troubleshooting, you have to dump the boot-arg from the firmware so that the OS can boot in normal mode as usual. It can be done with the following command:

sudo nvram boot-args=""

To exit the Safe Mode and the boot the system back to normal, all you have to do restart your Mac from the Apple menu.

Nevertheless, nvram command also makes it possible to troubleshoot your Mac remotely, especially in the situations where there is any issues with USB interfaces or Mac keyboard that prevents the shift key from booting Mac in Safe boot mode. But keep in mind, the target Mac would need to startup OS X in Safe Mode, must be SSH sever enabled so that it can permit the remote login to administrate the Mac.

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