My "Notes" app was non-responsive and lagging so I manually shut down my MacBook Pro by pressing down the off button for several seconds (It's from 2013 or older and I think I have OS X Mavericks or maybe a newer operating system). When I turned it back on it was in "macOS Recovery" mode. How do I get it back to normal and keep all my files and everything?

  • Firstly, welcome to Ask Different! :) It's not clear from your question what you've already tried (or is switching it back on the only thing you've tried so far)? Also, have you got a backup (e.g. Time Machine, etc)?
    – Monomeeth
    Dec 12, 2018 at 22:52
  • If you open Disk Utility, can you mount your internal drive? What do you see?
    – SilverWolf
    Dec 12, 2018 at 23:01
  • Yes, I've only switched it back on so far - and chosen my own language, which it told me to do. Then I came to the menu with those four options such as Time Machine and Disk Utility, but I'm pretty sure I don't have a Time Machine backup. I could try to open up Disk Utility and check out my internal drive, but won't I potentially lose some data if I click on Disk Utility?
    – Adam D.
    Dec 13, 2018 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


There are a few things you can try.

1. Use the SDM to try booting from your usual Startup Disk

Use Startup Disk Manager to see if your usual startup disk is available. Follow these steps:

  1. Shut down your MBP
  2. Switch it on and immediately press and hold the option key
  3. Release the key when your bootable disks start appearing
  4. If you see your usual startup disk, try booting from it

2. Try running Disk Utility from macOS Recovery

  1. Boot into macOS Recovery
  2. When the macOS Utilities window appears, select the Disk Utility option
  3. Check to see if Disk Utility can see your usual startup disk
  4. If so, use Disk Utility to repair your startup disk
  5. Assuming it completes okay, try again to boot up your MBP

3. Run Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics

It's unclear from your question the exact model of MBP you have, so it's not clear whether your Mac used Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics (Apple switched to the latter in June 2013)

While the process of using these is slightly different, how to access them is the same:

  1. Shut down your MacBook Pro
  2. Restart your MacBook Pro
  3. Press and hold the D key before the gray startup screen appears
  4. Wait for either AHT or AD to load
    • If it's AD it'll automatically run the diagnostics - just wait for it to finish and report back
    • If it's AHT, select your language and click the right arrow to access your test options. I suggest you select the "Perform extended testing" checkbox before you click the Test button.

Assuming this finds no hardware problems, it may be time to consider reinstalling macOS.

4. Reinstalling macOS without deleting applications, data, etc

Prior to following this process, you need to ensure:

  • you have a known good backup of all your data (be it via Time Machine or another process) just in case something goes wrong
  • your MacBook Pro is able to connect to the internet during the installation process
  • you have already confirmed that your usual startup disk can be seen by Disk Utility (see 2 above) and that the repair process itself completed without problems

Assuming you have the above sorted, follow these steps to reinstall macOS without deleting your apps, data, etc.

  1. Shutdown your MBP
  2. Power up your MBP and immediately press and hold the commandR keys
  3. Let go of the keys when it's clear you're booting into Recovery mode
  4. Soon the macOS Utilities window will appear
  5. Make sure your iMac is connected to the internet
  6. Now choose the Reinstall macOS option
  7. Click the Continue button
  8. Follow the prompts (to select your disk, etc)
  9. Click the Install button

Once completed, your MBP will restart as normal. This process does not erase your drive and therefore all your apps and data should still be in place. In other words, this process does nothing but reinstall macOS over the previous version on your drive.

IMPORTANT: - Once again, things can go wrong and you should have a backup regime in place. Proceeding without a backup is done at your own risk.

  • On #4 (reinstall), I'd add another prerequisite: make sure the regular startup volume shows up in Disk Utility and the repair process doesn't find any problems. Reinstalling on a damaged volume often makes things worse. Dec 13, 2018 at 7:14
  • @GordonDavisson Thanks for the feedback! :) I've edited my answer accordingly.
    – Monomeeth
    Dec 13, 2018 at 7:32
  • Thankyou so much!! :) Although someone said on another forum that I could just bypass the entire recovery and resume using the computer like normal again. Is this what you meant by using the SDM or is there some other way to simply get away from the Recovery Mode and start my computer like normal? For example by turning it off and back on again and then maybe it works like normal again?
    – Adam D.
    Dec 13, 2018 at 11:56
  • @AdamD. The Recovery environment is basically a built-in emergency repair kit for macOS; if a Mac starts up in Recovery, it's generally an indication that something has gone wrong and needs repair. You should think in terms of finding & fixing the problem, not just trying to pretend everything is OK and go back to normal. I'd start with a Disk Utility check & repair (#2 above). Also, do you have a good backup? Is there anything important on the computer you'd want to save if the drive is corrupted or failing? Dec 13, 2018 at 20:17
  • @GordonDavisson Okay, well, I'm not entirely sure but I don't think I have a backup unfortunately... I'm not sure but I don't think I have Time Machine nor iCloud backup... I tried to repair in Disk Utility but it said that it couldn't repair. I guess I could try it again though... Or what should I do?
    – Adam D.
    Dec 15, 2018 at 12:00

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