What Is Mac Internet Recovery Mode? What Can It Do?

Written byStevenUpdated on Apr 15, 2024
Gerhard Chou
Approved byGerhard Chou

Table of Contents


Imagine that all of a sudden, your trusty Mac stops working and won't start up or crashes. At times like these, fear could set in. Do not worry because Apple has hidden a powerful tool in its Macs: Internet Recovery Mode. It's like having a digital lifesaver that lets you bring your Mac back to life when everything seems lost.

What is Internet Recovery Mode? Unlike other computer recovery tools, you might keep on your hard drive in a secret place. Instead, it uses the Internet to help when your Mac's built-in restore system fails. If your computer is having trouble, whether it's because of broken hardware or software, Internet Recovery Mode can help.

In this easy-to-understand guide, we'll show you all the cool things about Mac Internet Recovery Mode. Learning how it works and exploring its many fixing tools will give you the confidence to handle any Mac problem easily. Allow yourself to unwind and figure out how to use this helpful tool together.

Internet Recovery mode on Mac

What Is Mac Internet Recovery Mode?

It's unlike the normal Mac Recovery Mode, which uses a secret partition on your startup disk. Internet Recovery Mode does something different. This mode gets the tools it needs from Apple's computers over the Internet, so it's like Recovery Mode but online. It is beneficial if the local recovery folder is damaged and can't boot.

When to Use Mac Internet Recovery Mode?

Here are some situations in which Internet Recovery Mode can save the day:

Corrupted Startup Disk:

If your starting disk, which starts up your Mac, stops working or gets damaged, you might experience boot failure. You can access recovery tools and get around the broken disk using Internet Recovery Mode.

Accidental File Deletion:

Even though it's not ideal, you can accidentally delete important system files, making your Mac useless. The Internet Recovery Mode has tools to fix the disk or restart macOS, restoring the lost files.

Software Issues:

If there are problems with your software or an update goes wrong, it can mess up your Mac. You can reload a fresh copy of macOS in Internet Recovery Mode. It eliminates any software giving you trouble and starts over with your Mac.

Hardware Failure (with Limitations):

Internet Recovery Mode can't fix problems with the hardware itself, but it can help figure out software issues that might look like hardware failure. Also, internet recovery may be your only choice if a failing hard drive stops you from getting to the local recovery section.

Internet Recovery mode on Mac

What Can You Do in Internet Recovery Mode?

The Internet Recovery Mode has many tools to help you fix your Mac. Here are a few of the most important

  • Reinstall macOS: This is the main reason people use it. You can reinstall the macOS version that came with your Mac, or if one is available, you can change to a newer version that works with your computer.
  • Restore from Time Machine: If you have a Time Machine, you can use Internet Recovery Mode to restore the Mac to a previous state. It will let you recover lost files and settings.
  • Disk Utility: Disk Utility is a built-in program that lets you fix disk rights, check and fix disk integrity, erase and reformat storage drives, and more.
  • Get Help Online: If you have an internet connection, you can go to Apple's online support pages straight from Internet Recovery Mode to get more Help fixing problems.
  • Terminal: Terminal access lets advanced users fix problems using the command line, but this is usually only suggested for advanced users.

How to Enter Internet Recovery Mode?

If you have an Intel-based Mac or a newer Mac with Apple hardware (M1 chip or later), the steps to get into Internet Recovery Mode are slightly different.

For Intel-based Macs:

  • Close your Mac all the way.
  • Turn on your Mac and hold down these keys simultaneously: Press Option + Command + R.
  • Hold down the keys until you see a globe spinning on the screen.
  • Wait for your Mac to connect and download the restore tools after you let go of the keys.

For Macs with Apple Silicon:

  • Close your Mac all the way.
  • Press and hold Command , Option, Shift, and R simultaneously while turning on your Mac.
  • Hold down the keys until you see a globe spinning on the screen.
  • Wait for your Mac to connect and download the restore tools after you let go of the keys.

    Internet Recovery mode on Mac

Limitations and Considerations:

Even though Mac Internet Recovery Mode has a lot of tools and apps for finding and fixing system problems, it's essential to know what it can't do and what to think about when using it:

  • Internet Connection: Because Internet Recovery Mode requires Internet access to download recovery tools and apps, it might not work in places with limited Internet access.
  • Download Size: It can take a lot of data to reinstall macOS or download recovery tools through Internet Recovery Mode. That is especially true for people with limited internet speed or data caps.
  • Speed and Performance: How fast and well Internet Recovery Mode works may depend on your internet connection speed, the server's busy status, and your hardware. People who use slower Internet or older Mac models may have to wait longer for files to download and have their computers run less quickly.
  • Compatibility: Most Mac models made after 2010 have Internet Recovery Mode, but some older Macs might be unable to use it. Also, based on the model and hardware setup of your Mac, you may not be able to get specific versions of macOS or recovery tools.
  • Security: When using Internet Recovery Mode, you must ensure you're linked to a safe and reliable network so that sensitive data sent over the Internet can't be viewed or intercepted by people who shouldn't be able to.


The Mac Internet Recovery Mode is a valuable tool that makes it easy and reliable for users to find and fix problems with their Macs. This recovery mode uses the Internet to let users reinstall macOS, fix disk errors, update firmware, do network diagnostics, restore from Time Machine backups, and get to more powerful tools like Terminal.

Internet Recovery Mode has some issues and things to remember, but it is still essential for Mac users who want to fix software and hardware problems quickly. Mac Internet Recovery Mode has all the tools and information you need to get your Mac back to working as a beginner user with a minor software glitch or an IT professional fixing complicated hardware issues.

Contributing Writer


Steven has been a senior writer & editor of Donemax software since 2020. He's a super nerd and can't imagine the life without a computer. Over 6 years of experience of writing technical solutions and software tesing, he is passionate about providing solutions and tips for Windows and Mac users.

Gerhard Chou
Editor in chief

Gerhard Chou

In order to effectively solve the problems for our customers, every article and troubleshooting solution published on our website has been strictly tested and practiced. Our editors love researching and using computers and testing software, and are willing to help computer users with their problems

Hot Donemax Products


Donemax Disk Clone

Clone hard drive with advanced clone technology or create bootable clone for Windows/Mac OS.

Donemax Data Recovery

Donemax Data Recovery

Completely and easily recover deleted, formatted, hidden or lost files from hard drive and external storage device.

Donemax Data Eraser

Donemax Data Eraser

Certified data erasure software - permanently erase data before selling or donating your disk or any digital device.