Our team administrates several Macs. To save costs (flights, etc.) in events where we have to remotely restore a system at our client location, we are trying to understand how to enter recovery mode without being physically present at the keyboard to enter recovery mode by pressing Cmd + R.

Can I pass a flag to sudo reboot or something similar, to initiate a reboot into recovery mode?

(All of the internet searches I've done have turned up "Press this series of keys on the keyboard" to enter various flavors of recovery.)

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    Even if you could issue a command to restart to the Recovery HD, what are you going to do next, you'll not have any connectivity to proceed further. Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:12
  • Networking isn't up by default? I'll have a hardwired connection... Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:14
  • Networking is up but how do you intend to retake control? Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:16
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    When booting to the Recovery HD it is coming from a read-only image to a GUI interface in which one chooses what to do next from the dialog box presented or from the menu. I do not believe there is anything running that one can initiate connectivity remotely, but I've not tried. Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:30
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    Are you not using a MDM (mobile device management) solution for the Macs, such as JAMF Pro? An MDM can provide anything you would need for this. Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


You can set NVRAM options from command line to boot into recovery:

sudo nvram "recovery-boot-mode=unused"
sudo reboot

This will put your system into recovery mode.

NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a small amount of memory that holds certain settings and can be accessed at boot by the Mac's firmware.

  • Great info, thanks - where would I have found this if I were searching the docs on my own? (Teach a man to fish ....) Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:57
  • (And I'll test this once I'm in front of a mac that I can reset "remotely" (from the next desk over) and locally observe the results.) Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:58
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    @user3.1415927, Those commands will take you to a screen like this one which then on a standard install of macOS you'll not have any remote control over. Also, trying to ssh returned ssh: connect to host nnn.nnn.n.n port 22: Connection refused. You'll need to use third-party software as suggested in the comment by SamAndrew81. Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 14:17

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