Command R not working, how Mac enter Recovery Mode?

By Connie | Posted to Home > Howto, on September 18th, 2021

Summary: About how to fix Command R not working issue with efficient solutions. Also, this post tells how to boot into macOS Recovery mode when Command R not working to help you reinstall macOS.

Command R not working

You press the Command-R shortcut keys during Mac startup, trying to enter the built-in Recovery Mode to reinstall macOS. But unexpectedly, you fail to boot in Mac Recovery Mode but starts up regularly or shows a blank or black screen on your Mac.

Oops! The Command R not working on your iMac, MacBook Air 2020, or so. It stops your Mac from entering Recovery Mode.

Here, this post will help you fix the Command R not working issue. And also, enable your Mac computer to boot in Recovery Mode even if Command R not working.

How to fix if Command R not working:

Fix Command R not working

How to fix when Command R not working?

The reasons for Command R on Mac not working are various. For example, your inappropriate way of using Command R keys, keyboard faulty, Mac corruption, etc. Any of these can bring about the Command R not working even on macOS Big Sur.

Firstly, you can use the Command R keys again to see if you can enter Mac Recovery Mode this time.

If it is useless, we'll guide you in troubleshooting the malfunctioning Command R to make them workable again and consequently, fix the Mac Recovery Mode not working issue.

Check your macOS version

If your Mac runs Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or older, there's no recovery partition available. Therefore, you can't enter Recovery Mode with Command-R.

Besides, if your Mac is running macOS Sierra launched in 2016 or earlier, it doesn't offer all options in Recovery Mode. It's not the fault of the Command-R.

Check if the using method of Command R is right

How long should you press down the two keys and when to release them are crucial for entering Recovery Mode.

Here's the reference:

  • Start or restart your Mac and immediately hold down the Command-R keys.
  • The time between starting the computer and pressing the two keys shouldn't be over 3 seconds. If you can't measure the time, you can simultaneously press down the keys when Mac startup.
  • Release the keys when seeing the Apple logo and progress loading bar.
  • During this period, don't unplug the power cable or put your MacBook lid down.

Apple logo shows up during booting in recovery mode

Moreover, some of you may need to proceed with these additional steps to enter Recovery Mode:

  • Enter the admin password when asked.
  • Select the desired startup volume if you have multiple ones and click Next.
  • Select an admin account if requested and type the password to enter Recovery Mode.

Check if your Mac has a T2 or Apple M1 chip

Command-R won't bring all Mac models in Recovery Mode. If your Mac has a T2 or Apple M1 chip, the key combination for booting into macOS Recovery Mode is different.

To check if your Mac has a T2 security chip or an Apple M1chip, you should go to support.apple.com or open About This Mac from the Apple menu bar if your Mac is bootable.

Boot a T2-based Mac in Recovery Mode:

  • Press down the Option/Alt + Command + R keys when starting or rebooting your Mac.
  • Release the keys until seeing the Apple logo or spinning globe.

Boot an Apple M1 Mac in Recovery Mode:

  • Hold down the power button until seeing the words "Loading startup options".
  • Choose Options and click Continue.
  • Type the admin password.

Select Options to enter recovery rode

Reset NVRAM/PRAM

NVRAM/PRAM stores setting information on Mac, including startup disk selection, recent kernel panic, display resolution, etc. If NVRAM has some errors, problems like Command-R failing to bring out Recovery Mode may happen.

So, try to reset NVRAM/PRAM, and then reboot your Mac in Recovery Mode. Note that M1 Mac can auto-reset NVRAM if needed, so you can skip this job if you're using M1 Mac.

How to reset NVRAM/PRAM:

  • Shut down your Mac machine and wait 10 seconds.
  • Press the power button and hold down the Option - Command - P - R keys at the same time.
  • Release the keys once you hear the second startup sound from your Mac. If it's a T2-based Mac, release the keys when seeing the Apple logo appear and disappear twice.

Check your keyboard & Mac USB port

Sometimes, the issue results from a faulty keyboard or USB port. You can connect another USB device to your Mac to check if the USB port is damaged. If not, try another keyboard.

If you are using a keyboard connected to Mac via Bluetooth, it's suggested that you should change it to a wired one.

How to boot in Recovery Mode when Command R not working

Regrettably, your Command R still can't work to bring your Mac in Recovery Mode after trying all the fixes above. A blank or black screen occurs after pressing Command R keys when Mac startup.

That's because the recovery partition on your Mac hard drive may be corrupted. Your built-in macOS Recovery Mode won't work. However, the Mac Internet Recovery Mode is an alternative. It also helps fix your Mac hard drive and reinstall macOS.

Different from Recovery Mode, the Internet Recovery Mode loads recovery options from Apple's server over the Internet.

To start up an Intel-based Mac in Internet Recovery Mode, you should:

  • Turn off your Mac and wait a few seconds.
  • Press the power button and simultaneously hold down the Option-Command-R or Shift-Option-Command-R key combination.

Note: If you use Shift-Option-Command-R during startup, it will offer the macOS that came with your Mac. If you use Option-Command-R during startup, it will supply the latest compatible macOS.

  • Release the keys when the spinning globe appears on the screen. Sometimes, a message "Starting Internet Recovery. This may take a while." will appear too.
  • Start Mac in Internet Recovery
  • Select a Wi-Fi and type your Wi-Fi password when asked. If your Mac fails to connect the Wi-Fi, it won't enter in Internet Recovery Mode.
  • Wait until you see the recovery utilities. The waiting time depends on your Internet speed. During this period, ensure your Mac is charged.

Reinstall macOS from Internet Recovery

Then, you can check and repair your Mac hard drive with Disk Utility First Aid or reinstall macOS.

For an Apple M1 Mac, if you fail to boot in Recovery Mode but make your computer connect to the Internet well, it will auto-switch to the Internet Recovery Mode.

If the Internet Recovery Mode is also unavailable or your MacBook won't turn on, you can use your Time Machine backup as your startup drive to boot up your Mac. Or, you can create a bootable USB drive to bring your dead Mac back to life.

FAQs about Command R not working:

1. What happens when you press Command R on Mac?

You continue pressing Command-R during Mac booting up will bring you into Mac Recovery Mode. You'll see the four recovery utilities on the screen, including Restore from Time Machine, Reinstall macOS (Big Sur), Safari, Disk Utility.

2. How do you force your Mac into Recovery Mode?

For an Intel-based Mac: Shut down your Mac. Then, restart it and hold down the Command-R, Option-Command-R, or Shift-Option-Command-R key combination to force your Mac into Recovery Mode.

For an M1 Mac: Press the power button until seeing the words "Loading startup options". When seeing the startup options screen, select Options and click Continue.