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To start in single user mode on a Mac



  How to boot into Mac user mode

Advanced Mac users can boot into Single User Mode, loaded directly into the Mac OS Command line and skip the familiar, friendly user interface.

Enable mode on Mac can be useful for some troubleshooting and administrative tasks, but is usually best reserved for use by advanced Mac users with thorough knowledge of the command line.

This tutorial will show you how to boot into user mode and how to exit user mode on any Mac.

To start a user mode on Mac OS

To enter a user mode on a Mac, can be done from system startup or system boot, you must act immediately during the boot process. To enter a user mode:

  1. Restart your Mac or restart your computer
  2. As soon as the bootup process starts, hold down COMMAND + S keys
  3. Hold down the Command and S buttons until you see white text on a black background, indicating that single user mode is loaded
  4. Enter the administrator password to access Mac via single user mode

If you are using FileVault disk encryption (and all Mac users must) enter the FileVault password before you can start up in Single User Mode.

Similarly, if you are using a Mac firmware password, you must enter the firmware password before you can load a single user mode.

When you are authenticated, and in Single User Mode, you can run tools like fsck to repair a disk or hit the flight key twice to display all available command line commands and tools. Note that you may need to mount the file system to access more known alternatives.

Note that while Single User Mode gives you access to a command prompt, it is with root access and is completely different from the regular command line interface access from the terminal, with less commands, tools, applications, and other available data (without mount the file system anyway). It is supposed to be lower level than a casual hunt in the terminal or using Terminal via recovery mode. Therefore, it is useful to perform disk maintenance and repair options.

To exit a user mode on a Mac

So now you are on the EnUser Mode command line and you want to restart in the regular Mac OS user interface. It's easy, just start a command to restart the Mac from the command line:

  1. Enter the following syntax from the Single User Mode command line item:
  2. shutdown -r now

  • Alternatively, you can use the simpler:
  • reboot

  • Turn back to restart Mac, this time does not hold any command sequence and Mac OS is loaded as usual
  • You can also turn off the Mac from the command line in single user mode if need to be, maybe to adjust hardware or to move a machine, or perform another administrative or troubleshooting task. When you restart, the Mac starts as normal and not in Single User mode.

    If you are interested in this, you may also want to read some of our other command line tricks for Mac


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