Fallback Recovery OS - M1-Mac with a new boot trick

In addition to the Safe Mode, the Recovery Mode and the latter in the Internet version, M1-Macs with “Apple Silicon” can boot in another mode. This should be used if the other boot tricks do not work or the Mac is in a jam or loop. With the new start mode of M1 Macs (MacBook Pro 2020, MacBook Air 2020 and Mac mini 2020), they load the Fallback Recovery OS. This is similar to the regular Recovery OS, but has a few special features and limitations.

Boot the Mac in Fallback Recovery Mode - here you will find the instructions and a few details about the second recovery mode on the Apple computer with an M1 chip or other Apple silicon SoC. Start Mac with Fallback Recovery OS

Boot the Mac in Fallback Recovery Mode - here you will find the instructions and a few details about the second recovery mode on the Apple computer with an M1 chip or other Apple silicon SoC.

Booting an M1 Mac with Fallback Recovery OS: Here's how!

In addition to the normal system start, i.e. simply switching on the Mac by pressing the power button once, there are other options for system start. You can already find an overview here: On Mac Restart - Recovery Keyboard Shortcuts. In addition to Recovery Mode and Safe Mode, you will also find shortcuts for the Apple Diagnosis / Apple Hardware Test, for starting with a detailed log and more.

If you have one of the new Mac computers (late 2020) that come with an "Apple Silicon" SoC called the M1, there is another boot trick. In a sense, this goes beyond recovery mode and represents an iron reserve in the event that it does not work. Accordingly, the system started is called “Fallback Recovery OS” (fallback = reserve / replacement). 

And this is how you can start the M1 Mac in fallback recovery mode:

  1. Turn off your Mac or shut it down
  2. To start, press the power button twice in quick succession and hold it down the second time
  3. When the loading screen (Apple logo and loading bar or similar) appears, release the button

Limitations in Fallback Recovery Mode on the M1 Mac

The new mode from Apple has so far only been mentioned in a few official places. For example in the "Apple Platform Security Guide" (here as PDF). It was then picked up by several specialist magazines and blogs - and now also by Sir Apfelot: D If you look in the guide, you will find the following information about the new mode (translation into German under the English version):

The same process as recoveryOS boot, except that it boots to a second copy of recoveryOS that is kept for resiliency. However, LLB doesn't lock an indication into the Boot Progress Register saying it is going into recoveryOS, and therefore the fallback recovery OS doesn't have the capability to change the system security state.

Here is the German translation:

The same process as booting the RecoveryOS, except that it boots to a second copy of the RecoveryOS, which is kept for resilience reasons. However, LLB does not lock an indication in the boot progress register that the RecoveryOS is booting, and therefore the Fallback Recovery OS does not have the possibility to change the security status of the system.

The abbreviation LLB stands for Low-Level Bootloader. The security status means that some security measures - especially on Macs with a T2 security chip - cannot be modified / switched off. This could mean that in the described system mode, for example, the system integrity protection cannot be switched off. What use is that, I showed you yesterday: Catalina Installer cannot be deleted from the trash on macOS Big Sur. But the reserve system is more there to find and fix errors than to deactivate security mechanisms.

Have you ever had to experience the new boot mode for Apple Silicon Macs? Feel free to leave a comment;)

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