How to Boot in Single-user Mode or Verbose Mode in macOS

There are different special start-up modes that your Mac can be powered into. These modes can be used to troubleshoot various Mac problems. Advanced users may use these modes.

Single user mode enables a single superuser and loads directly into the command line of Mac OS. There is no graphical shell. Verbose mode displays text descriptions of precisely what your Mac is doing. This can be helpful and used for troubleshooting problems.

macOS Single User Mode

These modes are best reserved for advanced users who are comfortable with UNIX. For example, if you are an IT professional, these modes can help you isolate problems. In this article, we explain how you can start your Mac in single user or verbose mode.

Like these modes, we previously wrote about how booting your Mac into macOS’ Safe Mode. Safe Mode can also be used as an alternate way to diagnose and repair.

Note: Apple often makes changes. The following methods may not work for you.

See also: Your Computer was Restarted Because of a Problem: How to Fix Kernel Panic on Mac

Single-user mode

Macs that have the Apple T2 Security Chip

Follow the steps below, if you have a Mac that has the Apple T2 Security Chip. Newer Mac models have this chip. More specifically, the following models have it:

  • iMac (introduced in 2020)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro (introduced in 2019)
  • Mac mini (introduced in 2018)
  • MacBook Air (introduced in 2018 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (introduced in 2018 or later0

If you are not sure if your Mac has this, open System Information by going to the Apple menu > System Information. Select Controller or iBridge from the sidebar and check to see if a text saying “Apple T2 chip”. If so, your computer has the Apple T2 Security Chip.

Follow the steps:

For this, we will start up from macOS Recovery. How you do this depends on the Mac you have. On your Mac, go to Apple menu > About This Mac. If you see an item labeled “Chip”, you have a Mac with Apple Silicon. Some Mac models introduced in late 2020 have this chip.

Apple T Chip

Macs with Apple Silicon:

  • Turn off your Mac. Ensure that your Mac fully turns off.
  • Press and hold the power button until you see the status options window.
  • Click Options.

Intel Processor

  • Turn off your Mac. Ensure that your Mac really powers off. Wait until it fully turns off.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold these two keys: Command (⌘) and R.
  • Keep holding these keys until you see the Apple logo or another image like a spinning globe.
  • Enter your password, if asked.

macOS Recovery

  • Now select Disk Utility from the Utilities window in macOS Recovery.
  • Click Continue.
  • Select the volume you are using from the Disk Utility sidebar.
  • From the menu bar, click File > Mount. If it is dimmed, this means it is already selected.
  • Enter your password if asked.
  • Quit Disk Utility.
  • From the Utilities menu in the menu bar, open Terminal.
  • Now using Terminal, enter your UNIX commands when you are done, simply restart your Mac.
macOS Recovery screen

Macs that do not have the Apple T2 Security Chip

  • Turn off your Mac and wait for your computer to turn off completely.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold these keys: Command-S.
  • Keep holding the Command and S keys until you see a screen indicating single-user mode is loading. You will see a lot of texts with a black background.
  • Enter your password, if asked.
  • Now you can enter your commands.
  • When you are done, you can use the “reboot” command to restart your Mac normally and exit this mode. You can also use the “shutdown -r now” command.

See also: The Disk “Macintosh HD – Data” Can’t be Unlocked, Fix

Verbose mode

Note: If you are using a firmware password on your Mac, you need to turn it off. To turn off a firmware password, start up from macOS Recovery (Command-R), click Utilities in the menu bar, then choose Firmware Password Utility or Startup Security Utility and then click Turn Off Firmware Password, then follow the onscreen instructions.

Note: Also please note that newer macOS versions do not support this mode.

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Turn on your Mac, and immediately press and hold the Command-V keys together.
  • Keep holding these keys until you see white text on the screen.
  • Now you have successfully entered verbose mode.
  • You may now enter your UNIX commands.
  • You can use the “reboot” command to exit this mode.

See also: KernelManagerd Causing High CPU Usage & Battery Drain

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

Thank you for choosing to leave a comment.

Please note the following:

  • All comments are moderated.
  • Your email will NOT be published nor shared.
  • All SPAM comments will be deleted.
  • Please see our comment policy page for more info.

Leave a Comment