For when the allure of all computer-based distractions is too great, being limited to only the command line seems attractive. Give me my files and vim, and force me to focus on the work at hand. Having to turn off and restart the computer off to get access to a browser sounds helpful as well.

Single User Mode seems to meet these needs! SUM starts up without any volumes mounted, but after mounting root, all your files should be available.

Everything I'm seeing online about SUM is about using it for recovery, but it seems like it could be a great productivity mode as well.

Is there a reason I should not use single user mode except for recovery? Am I exposing myself to more risk of messing anything up? Is what I'm envisioning not actually realistic?

The same question, as well, for recovery mode, though it seems recovery mode has less access?

I'm running Catalina on a 2015 MacBook Pro, though likely upgrading to Monterey soon.

  • This answer alludes to the idea of using single user mode for non-recovery purposes, but doesn't explore whether this is a good or bad idea.
    – Unrelated
    Jan 14, 2022 at 1:41
  • There's probably a lot of services that are not running in single-user mode which you may need (touch-pad settings, network daemons, screen handling, side-bars, time-machine, spotlight, icloud, etc.). Big Sur and Monterey (and Catalina, too???) have their own ideas of where files are, so it might not be as simple as "mounting root". If you can work without all that, then I guess it's worth a try. I would think a single Terminal window, maxed to cover the screen (the green maximize-dot), should provide enough "focus" for you. Have fun! :-)
    – aMike
    Jan 16, 2022 at 0:11
  • Thanks @amike. Yes, the point is to do without all that – to be exclusively within a shell. Interesting point though about where these newer OSes store files
    – Unrelated
    Jan 16, 2022 at 2:34


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