How to Recover Data from Mac That Won’t Boot

| Updated on March 1, 2024

It is much easier to recover data from a Mac that boots and works normally. However, if your Mac won’t boot, you can still recover your data from it. In this article, we describe the process. 

Generally, you can only access the built-in macOS tools that can be used for data recovery when the device works. It is, therefore, a big challenge to secure your Mac or get back your data from the Mac if it cannot start. However, this does not mean that data recovery will not be possible at all. 

Let’s walk you through some significant ways to recover data from a macOS that won’t start. 

Method 1: Third-Party Software 

Several third-party software will help you recover data from macOS even if it fails to boot. Besides, the process is much easier and involves the click of a few buttons only. 

Disk Drill by Cleverfiles is a major contributor to data recovery and is one of the best data recovery tools for Mac in 2022. Here are the steps to recover files with the best data recovery software from Mac.

Step 1: Download And Install Disk Drill For Mac

First, download and install Disk Drill for Mac on a spare macOS. Once the software is installed, insert a blank USB drive into the Mac and launch Disk Drill. Choose Recover Data From Crashed System and click on the start button to initiate the scanning process.

Step 2: Select The USB

Now choose the USB you inserted into the Mac and hit the Start button.

Step 3: Format The Device

Click on Format to format the device and make it ready to recover files from the external hard drive. When the drive is ready for use, you should see a pop-up window that shows the bootable drive has been created successfully. 

Step 4: Insert The Drive Into The Unbootable Mac 

Now insert the drive into the Mac that won’t boot, boot it up and hold down the option to select your drive. Your Mac will now boot from it. 

Step 5: Recover The Files 

Now select the files you intend to recover from the macOS and click Export. You will recover the files to the folder you choose for recovery. 

The Disk Drill uses two scanning procedures, “quick scan” and “deep scan,” which are both efficient. You will have a list of all files found during the scanning process. At this stage, you can do a preview of the files.

Essential is the file name, type or date, and time to be more specific in the search area. Click to preview files to check if they are error-free and complete.

Method 2: Boot From Recovery Mode And Restore From Time Machine Backup 

This is one of the ways to recover data from an external drive. If you had created a Time Machine backup before the Mac misbehaved, you could restore the data much more quickly. 

Follow the steps below to complete the recovery.

  • Step 1: Plug in the backup to your Mac. Press and hold down the command + R as the macOS boots up to reboot into recovery mode. 
  • Step 2: Choose the “Restore from Time Machine backup” option in the recovery mode. 
  • Step 3: Choose the appropriate backup to restore on your Mac. 
  • Step 4: Choose the destination for your recovery files and click on continue. Allow the file restore to complete. At the end of the recovery, your Mac should be able to boot up without errors. Besides, the data should now be available for use. 

Method 3: Convert Unbootable Mac Hard Drive Into An External Hard Drive And Extract Data

This is the other method you can use to recover files from Macintosh. The method reaffirms that it is possible to mount an internal drive as an external drive and extract data from it. You can do the same with your macOS to extract data from it. Here’s what to do: 

  • Step 1: Open Mac and remove the internal drive.
  • Step 2: Put the drive inside an enclosure. 
  • Step 3: Connect the drive to a new Mac. Copy the files to new storage on the Mac when the storage shows up. 

L. Dias William

L. Dias William is an established writer who specializes in Apple goods, iOS, and other technology. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has years of hands-on experience in the IT business. William has a sharp eye for detail and an enthusiasm for innovation, and he has written countless articles and reviews that are popular among computer fans throughout the world. His distinct combination of technical understanding and creative flare makes him a desirable voice in the consumer electronics industry.

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