Mac start-up key combinations

Learn about the Mac features and tools that you can access by holding down one or more keys during startup. 

To use any of these key combinations, press and hold the keys immediately after pressing the power button to turn on your Mac, or immediately after your Mac begins to restart. Keep holding until the described behavior occurs.

If your Mac is using a firmware password, all of these key combinations are disabled, except as noted below.

Hold during startup / Description

Shift (⇧)
Start up in safe mode.

Option (⌥)
Start up to Startup Manager, which allows you to choose other startup disks, if available. If your Mac is using a firmware password, you're asked to enter the password first.

Start up from the built-in Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics utility, depending on your Mac model. Or use Option-D to start up from this utility over the Internet.

Start up from a compatible NetBoot server, if available. To use the default boot image on the NetBoot server, hold down Option-N instead. Computers that have the Apple T2 chip don't support this startup key.

Command (⌘)-R
Start up from the built-in macOS Recovery system. Or use Option-Command-R or Shift-Option-Command-R to start up from macOS Recovery over the Internet. macOS Recovery installs different versions of macOS, depending on the key combination you use while starting up.

Reset NVRAM (or PRAM).
When using a firmware password, your Mac ignores this combination or starts up from macOS Recovery. To reset NVRAM, first turn off the firmware password.Command-SStart up in single-user mode.

Start up in target disk mode.

Start up in verbose mode.

Eject (⏏), F12, mouse button, or trackpad button
Eject removable media, such as an optical disc.

These combinations work with Intel-based Mac computers. Other Mac keyboard shortcuts are available after your Mac has started up.

Published Date: July 13, 2018