5 Ways to Troubleshoot the Command + R Not Working on Mac
macOS offers a wide range of startup keyboard shortcut combinations that help to perform different maintenance and troubleshooting steps. Booting into Recovery Mode is one option that allows you to reinstall macOS, restore data from the Time Machine backup, erase and reformat the hard drive, use Terminal, and so much more.
Unfortunately, all these options won’t be available when Command + R is not working on Mac. Instead of the Recovery Mode, you’ll get your usual login window turned black or a blank screen. Finding the best solutions to fix the Command + R issue can become a burden. To ease your search, we have combined all the detailed steps on how to resolve the problem on any Mac.
What Makes Command R not Working on Mac?
As with almost any other issue, there is no specific reason that could be causing the problem. Here is a list of just a few possible reasons you can’t boot into the Recovery Mode:
- Wrong/improper use of the shortcut combination.
- Bluetooth issues (when using a wireless keyboard).
- Keyboard physical damage.
- Mac/hard drive corruption.
- NVRAM corruption.
- macOS bugs.
5 Ways to Troubleshoot Command + R Not Working
There are more than one working ways to fix Command + R not working on Mac. We have structured the troubleshooting steps from the easiest and most obvious to the most difficult and time-consuming ones. We recommend starting from the basics and moving forward to the next step if the previous one didn’t work.
Solution 1: Try to boot into Recovery Mode once again
A simple reboot can help with a temporary system glitch. A regular restart wouldn’t do the trick, so completely shut down your Mac and power it back on. After this, try to boot into Recovery Mode once again.
Solution 2: Check the keyboard and USB port
It’s better to use a Mac keyboard if you are trying to boot into the Recovery Mode. If you are using a Windows keyboard, try a few different key combinations instead of a regular Command + R that is not working. Bluetooth keyboards tend to load slower, so try connecting a wired keyboard.
It is also possible that the keyboard is physically damaged or your USB port is faulty. Change a keyboard and plug it into a different USB port to check this theory. Move on to the next step if you are sure that your keyboard works fine.
Solution 3: Try other keyboard combinations
Command + R doesn’t work on all Mac models the same way. For instance, Macs with T2 and M1 chips have different keyboard combinations. To check this info about your Mac, go to the About this Mac option from the Apple menu. Or visit support.apple.com.
To boot Recovery Mode on Mac with T2 chip:
- Reboot your Mac.
- Press and hold Option/Alt + Command + R.
- Wait until you see the Apple logo or spinning globe.
- Release the buttons.
The sequence of pressing the buttons also makes a big difference when trying to boot into the Recovery Mode and Command + R is not working. Try a few of these tricks:
- Double-tap or repeatedly click on the Command + R buttons when booting your Mac.
- Power on and power off the wireless keyboard before booting into the Recovery Mode.
- Press and hold Command + R only after seeing a green light flashing on your keyboard.
- Press and hold the Command + R + Power button for 6 seconds, then release the Power button while still holding Command + R.
- Press Command + R before powering the Mac and continue pressing while the Mac boots.
Solution 4: Reset NVRAM/PRAM
NVRAM plays an important role in the Mac startup process, so resetting it can help with various boot problems, including fixing Command + R not working on Mac:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Simultaneously press and hold Option + Command + P + R.
- Release the keys once you hear startup chimes twice in a row or see the Apple logo.
Solution 5: Use Internet Recovery to repair the hard drive or reinstall macOS
If Command + R doesn’t work even after all the previous steps, your hard drive might be corrupt. In this case, you may be unable to load the recovery partition, so you won’t be able to boot in the Recovery Mode. macOS offers an alternative called Internet Recovery, which is loaded from the Apple servers, so all you need is a stable Internet connection.
To boot in the Internet Recovery Mode:
- Shut down your Mac and wait a few seconds.
- Press on the Power button and then simultaneously press and hold Option + Command + R (or Shift + Option + Command + R if you want to install macOS that originally came with Mac).
- Release the keys once you see the spinning globe.
- Wait through the loading process until you see the macOS Utilities window.
Once you are in the Internet Recovery Mode, you can reinstall your macOS or use Disk Utility to erase/ reformat the hard drive and fix Command + R not working.
How to Fix Command + R on M1 Macs
Users who have switched from older Macs to a new one with an M1 chip got used to the regular way of accessing the Recovery Mode. But the keyboard shortcut combination has changed, which is why Command + R doesn’t work on your Mac.
To boot in Recovery Mode on an M1 Mac:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Press and hold the Power button.
- Hold the button until you see the startup options window on the screen.
- Choose Recovery in the Options.
If you are still unable to access the Recovery Mode, you can use the “Fallback Recovery Mode.” It’s a newly introduced option on M1 Macs similar to the Internet Recovery Mode on Intel-based machines.
Booting in the “Fallback Recovery Mode” goes like this:
- Press the Power button, release and then quickly press again and hold it for a few seconds.
Why is Command + R not working on Mac running Snow Leopard and older?
Unfortunately, Command + R won’t work on older Mac computers running Snow Leopard and older. They don’t have a built-in recovery partition and can’t boot in Recovery Mode. So if you need to reinstall macOS, you have to use the disk that was shipped with Mac, buy a new one or refer to the Apple Software Download page.
Recovery Mode is a powerful feature that allows different Mac recovery functionality such as OS reinstall, data restoration, hard drive and volume manipulations, etc. Sadly, all those options won’t be available if Command + R is not working.
In this article, we have gathered the best ways to fix the issue sorted by the difficulty so you can access the Recovery Mode once again. While following advanced troubleshooting steps, there is always a risk of data loss. Always use a reliable recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery Software for Mac to restore all your files, even from formatted partitions or a crashed Mac.