How to boot Mac in verbose mode

5 min read

Sometimes, when your Mac misbehaves, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. Fortunately, there is a verbose mode, a startup mode on your Mac that can help you diagnose issues.

Even though verbose mode seems to no longer work in macOS 11.2 and later, it's still useful in older versions of macOS. And in this guide, I'll explain what Mac verbose mode is and how you can turn it on and off.

What is verbose mode 

Verbose mode replaces the Mac startup screen with command lines. These command lines show what drivers and applications Mac is loading at startup or in programming. This mode might help you identify macOS problems like white screens or issues with third-party apps. To locate your problem quickly, you need to read these technical texts word by word and understand them. Keep in mind that only skilled Unix users or computer gurus can understand the command lines displayed. While average users may struggle, they can still take notes and Google for solutions.

Verbose mode on Mac

It's also important to understand that verbose mode simply verifies the problem, but it can't fix it. If you're not a developer, there are a couple of reasons you might want to use verbose mode: 

  1. Your Mac is having difficulty booting up
  2. You have a lot of peripherals connected and want to ensure that the drivers for each of them are properly loaded.

Verbose mode vs. safe mode

Some users confuse safe mode with verbose mode. While safe mode can also be used as an alternate way to diagnose and repair your Mac, keep in mind that safe mode and verbose mode are two different things. 

In safe mode, your Mac only loads the kernel extensions that it needs to run. It doesn't load things like launch agents or login items. Verbose mode loads everything, but as it does so, it tells you what it's doing.

Follow these steps to run maintenance scripts:

  1. Install CleanMyMac X – you can download it via Setapp
  2. Then open the app, click Maintenance from the left sidebar 
  3. Select Run Maintenance Scripts and click Run.

Run maintenance scripts

If this doesn't solve your problem, move on to the next steps.

How to start verbose mode on Mac

Follow the instructions below to enable verbose mode:

  1. If your Mac is on, you'll need to turn it off before you can move forward. To do so, choose the Apple menu > Shut down
  2. Wait until your Mac completely shuts down, then press the power button to turn it on again
  3. When your Mac is starting up, you'll need to press and hold the Command + V keys.

Booting should continue on your Mac, displaying textual information about each item loaded and process completed until the login window appears. You'll want to keep an eye out and make a note of anything that looks like it might be a concern.

How to set an automatic booting Mac in verbose mode

Using Terminal, you can configure your Mac to automatically enter verbose mode at startup time, eliminating the need to manually press Command + V. Actually, the above procedures would only work for Macs with the Intel chip; if you have a Mac with the Apple silicon, you'll need to follow these instructions to enable verbose mode. 

For your Mac to always booting in verbose mode:

  1. In Finder, clшck Go > Applications > Utilities > Terminal
  2. Type the following command: sudo nvram boot-args="-v" and hit the Return button
  3. Then type in your password if prompted
  4. Quit Terminal

How to disable automatic booting in verbose mode

To disable verbose mode, type in this command in Terminal: sudo nvram boot-args= 

After exiting the Terminal, you'll need to restart your Mac to see if it starts up normally.

Note that the same would apply to Intel-based Macs as well. So there are actually two methods to start your Mac into verbose mode on Intel-based Macs and just one way on Apple silicon Macs.

Do you really need to use verbose mode?

You don't have to do much to put and get a Mac out of verbose mode. But you'll need to have some technical knowledge to be able to figure out what's wrong with your Mac. If you are just starting out, the technical texts might be hard to understand. In fact, there aren't that many reasons why you would want to start up Mac in verbose mode.

If your device is behaving strangely or isn't working properly, running some maintenance procedures with CleanMyMac X might help you with it. The app includes several modules designed to optimize and maintain your Mac, as well as manage launch agents and login items, which may be useful to repair your machine. As I've already mentioned, you can download the app via Setapp.

In addition to CleanMyMac X, you'll get access to 240+ apps to solve almost any task on your Mac and iPhone. And since you pay for a subscription ($9.99 per month), you are more likely to try apps that you would never have found or bought on your own, but those turn out to be very useful. So check out Setapp's free week-long trial and test some apps so you can get a sense of how they could improve your workflow.

240+ apps for $9.99
per month

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.