Mac Help Desk
Quick fixes for common Mac problems

Why is Command+R not working on Mac?

When Command+R is not working on your Mac, it's time to troubleshoot the issue.

This functional shortcut key combination is crucial for Mac users. If your MacBook suffers a serious failure or glitch, you'll need to reinstall your macOS or access recovery mode using the Command + R key combination.

But if you can't get your shortcut to work, you'll find yourself unable to boot in recovery mode.

Why is Mac Command+R not working?

  • Broken or faulty keyboard

  • Corrupt recovery partition

  • You followed the instructions incorrectly

Regardless of the reason, you'll need to fix it; head to the next section for tips.

How to fix Command+R not working on a MacBook

If you need a quick reminder on how to boot into recovery mode, check out the official Apple help articles for Intel-based and Apple silicon devices. Now, to the fixes.

1. Check your keyboard

The most obvious thing to check is your keyboard, especially if it's Bluetooth. First, look for physical or USB port damage. Now, toggle your Bluetooth on and off to rule out connection issues. If your keyboard is OK, head to the next tip.

Bluetooth settings on Mac

2. Check for malware

Next, it's wise to check malware on your Mac; the inability to access recovery mode or use specific keyboard shortcuts can often be attributed to malicious software. It's time to run your antivirus software.

Alternatively, you could also use the Malware Removal module from the cleaning and maintenance app CleanMyMac X. Here's how:

  • Open the app (or get the free version).
  • Select Malware Removal and click Scan.

Malware removal module of CleanMyMacX

If malware is found, this intuitive app will help you remove it entirely from your device.

3. Try an alternative way to access recovery mode

On the M-Series Mac, the Fallback recovery OS mode is an alternative. You can find detailed instructions from Apple on how to access this here.

Apple detailed instructions

On M1 or M2 chip devices, the Fallback recovery mode permits access to a second copy of the recoveryOS located on your SSD.

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