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How to Boot a macOS Mojave Virtual Machine to Recovery Mode

Written by John

First, it is important to note that a macOS Mojave Virtual Machine works just like a Mac with macOS Mojave. This means that anything that can be done on a Mac can be done on a macOS virtual machine. One of the things is entering Recovery Mode. What is this and why would you need it?

macOS Mojave recovery is a method that is made with the aim to help Mac users to recover their system even after software malfunctions and other problems that cause the Mojave not to work properly. Simply put, recovery mode helps you reinstall the operating system which, in this case, is the Mojave. Using this method you can also solve hard drive problems or restore the Mac to an earlier time before the problem being faced currently occurred.

When do You need to use Recovery mode?

  • Troubleshooting startup issues.
  • When facing hard disk issues and need to repair the drive using disk utility.
  • You want to go back to an older version of macOS.
  • To perform a clean install of the macOS Mojave.
  • To restore data from Time Machine backup.
  • Turn Off System Integrity Protection (Disable SIP)

Options You have on Recovery mode

Recovery mode is all about giving you the best option to solve your problem. There are several to choose from depending on what suits you best. These options are given as soon as you enter recovery mode. Let us look at each of them:

1. Restore from Time Machine Backup
Time Machine is a built-in backup feature on all Macs. It is used to backup data contained in the hard drive at that particular time exactly as it is. Time Machine backups should be carried out often. They can be stored on a separate partition on the same disk or on a different hard drive. When it is time to recover the data, this method is useful because it will contain everything there was on the Mac when the backup was saved. You will need to connect the hard drive that was used for backup in order to recover the data. It is important to note that any changes made to the Mac after the backup will not be recovered.

2. Use Disk Utility to Verify and Repair Connected Drives
Disk Utility is firmware from Apple that is designed to ensure that your hard drive is in the best state possible. You can use this to check the integrity of all hard disks attached to the Mac and make any necessary repairs. If you would like to clean-up the hard drive and start a fresh, use the erase button in disk utility.

3. Install or reinstall macOS
You can reinstall the macOS Mojave or install another operating system. The operating system you can install depends on how you enter recovery mode. Using “Command + R” allows installation of the latest macOS version installed in your Mac. Using “Option + Command +R” allows upgrading to the latest macOS version compatible with your Mac. The final option is using “Shift + Option + Command + R” which installs the macOS that came with the Mac or the one closest to this that is still available for download. You can choose whatever option that suits you best.

4. Turn Off System Integrity Protection (Disable SIP)
System Integrity Protection is a feature that is designed to keep Mac users safe from malware and other security issues. As a developer, your app’s functionality may be limited by this feature and you may need to disable it. You can do this in recovery mode. To do this, open recovery mode and open Terminal from the Utilities option. Type in the following command and press the Enter key (csrutil disable).

Booting a Virtual Machine to Recovery Mode

Option 1: Using the Boot Key

Step 1: Start the macOS Mojave in VMware or VirtualBox.

Step 2: Immediately press the Command (Windows key) and R keys on the keyboard at the same time.

Step 3: Release the keys when you see the macOS Recovery screen.

Option 2: Using the Mojave Recovery Disk Image

How you go about this will depend on whether you are using VirtualBox or Vmware.

Mojave Recovery Boot Image: Download Link

A. Boot to Recovery Mode in Mojave VirtualBox

Step 1: Open VirtualBox and click on the macOS Mojave

Step 2: Click on “Settings” and select the Storage tab, Click on the “Add” button.

Add New Virtual Disk in VirtualBox

Step 3: Choose “Mojave Recovery Boot Image.vmdk” disk. This is the recovery image which you should ensure is set to SATA Port 0 which boots first before the SATA Port 1 or 2 where the macOS Mojave Image is set.

Recovery Image boot with SATA Port 0

Step 4: Click “OK” to save the virtual machine settings. Turn on your macOS in VirtualBox and it will open in recovery mode.

Recovery Mode in macOS Mojave in VirtualBox

B. Recovery Mode in macOS Mojave in VMware Workstation Player

Step 1: Open VMware Player and select the macOS Virtual Machine.

Step 2: Click on “Edit Virtual Machine” and then the “Add” button.

Add new Hard Disk in macOS VMware

Step 3: Select “Hard disk” followed by “SATA” and finally click on “Use an existing virtual disk”.

Step 4: Browse to the folder containing the “Mojave Recovery Boot Image.vmdk” file (recovery disk image) and open it. Click on the “Finish” button.

Open Mojave Recovery Image with VMware

Step 5: Click on New hard disk and then “Advanced” and set the virtual device node to SATA 0:0. Click “OK”.

Recovery Disk boot with SATA 0:0

Select the macOS Mojave hard drive and set its node to SATA 0:1. Click “OK”.

Step 6: start the macOS Mojave virtual machine and it will boot in recovery mode.

Mojave Recovery Mode in VMware

With just a few clicks you will have access to recovery mode. To stop the machine from booting in recovery mode, remove the recovery disk using the same procedure.

Bottom line

When your macOS Mojave virtual machine misbehaves, you have recovery mode to help resolve any problems. As you can tell from the steps above, it is not hard to get into recovery mode. When you do, you can proceed like you would on a Mac. Check the disk’s integrity, restore backups and so on depending on what you want. Give this a try and let us know if you face any problems.

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  • Can you exactly say when we suppose to hold command+r and release it. Altough I tried several times it didn’t boot up with recovery mode. So I am using the recovery image when I want to do it, but it’s too tiring to change disks etc. while there is the other option.

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