What to Do When MacOS Recovery Is in Another Language

Different Written Languages
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MacOS Recovery Mode helps troubleshoot issues when your Mac is not functioning properly. It can be used to repair damaged disks, reinstall macOS, or restore from a backup. It is a useful tool when your Mac won’t start up or update to the latest macOS.

To access Mac Recovery Mode, hold down the Command + R keys during startup until you see the Apple logo or the spinning globe. Once the Recovery Mode Utilities window appears, you will be given the following troubleshooting options:

  • Restore from Time Machine Backup
  • Reinstall macOS
  • Get Help Online
  • Disk Utility

However, what happens when the macOS Recovery Mode window that appears on your screen is in a language that you don’t speak and understand?

You might think it is impossible, but a quick online search will show you that this scenario happens quite frequently. For example, you might have bought a secondhand Mac without knowing the installation language used is different from what you speak. This can also happen with Macs bought abroad that came pre-installed with macOS.

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The language chosen during the initial installation can be saved in the recovery partition where your Recovery Utilities are stored. This drive is separate from your startup disk, so erasing or reformatting your disk won’t affect the items on your recovery partition. Once you try to access macOS Recovery Mode Utilities, the language that was initially used for the macOS installation, which was stored in the recovery partition, will be loaded as well.

What to do if you’re stuck in macOS recovery with a language you don’t speak? You can’t proceed by simply guessing your options based on the icons. Fortunately, there are several ways to switch the system language being used in MacOS Recovery Mode to one that you are familiar with.

Method #1: Using the File Menu.

Even if you can’t understand macOS Recovery, the layout of the elements remains the same. This means that the position, along with the meaning of the options on the screen and on the menu bar, will not change no matter what language is used.

To change the language used on macOS Recovery, follow these steps:

  1. On the menu bar at the top of the screen, choose the third option from the left. This option is labeled as File in English.
  2. Next, click the first option from the menu that appears. This corresponds to Change Language in English.
  3. Choose the language that you want to use from the list.

Your system will then be automatically translated to the language that you have chosen.

Method #2: Using the Terminal.

The second option requires typing in a command line in the Terminal. On the top bar, you need to click the fifth option from the left to launch Utilities. You’ll see a list of apps with their icons next to them. Click the black rectangle icon with a prompt in it to launch Terminal.

In the Terminal window, type in sudo languagesetup and hit Enter. A list of languages will appear and you need to type in the number that corresponds to the language you want to set the system to. Next, press Enter.

Here’s the complete list of languages with their number codes:

  1. Use English for the main language
  2. Utiliser le français comme langue principale
  3. Deutsch als Standardsprache verwenden
  4. 以简体中文作为主要语言
  5. 以繁體中文作為主要語言
  6. 主に日本語を使用する
  7. Usar español como idioma principal
  8. Usa l’italiano come lingua principale
  9. Gebruik Nederlands als hoofdtaal
  10. 주 언어로 한국어 사용
  11. Usar português do Brasil como idioma principal
  12. Usar o português europeu como idioma principal
  13. Brug dansk som hovedsprog
  14. Käytä pääkielenä suomea
  15. Bruk norsk som hovedspråk
  16. Använd svenska som huvudspråk
  17. Сделать русский язык основным языком системы
  18. Użyj polskiego jako języka głównego
  19. Ana dil olarak Türkçe’yi kullan
  20. استخدام اللغة العربية كلغة رئيسية
  21. เลือกภาษาไทยเป็นภาษาหลัก
  22. Vybrat češtinu jako hlavní jazyk
  23. Magyar kiválasztása alapértelmezett nyelvként
  24. Seleccioneu el català com a idioma principal
  25. Odaberite hrvatski kao glavni jezik
  26. Επιλέξτε Ελληνικά ως την κύρια γλώσσα
  27. בחר/י עברית כשפה ראשית
  28. Selectați româna ca limbă principală
  29. Vybrať slovenčinu ako hlavný jazyk
  30. Вибрати українську основною мовою
  31. Gunakan Bahasa Indonesia sebagai bahasa utama
  32. Gunakan Bahasa Melayu untuk bahasa utama
  33. Sử dụng Tiếng Việt làm ngôn ngữ chính
  34. Utilizar español de México como el idioma principal

Once you have chosen the system language you want to use, restart your Mac by typing in sudo shutdown -r now in the Terminal.

Method #3: Reinstall macOS.

If you want to reset the language and upgrade your recovery partition at the same time, you can reinstall your macOS via Internet Recovery. To do this:

  1. Restart your Mac and hold down Command + Option + R.
  2. Release the keys when you see the spinning globe appear on the screen.
  3. You will be asked to choose the language you want to use for the installation.
  4. Next, you need to connect to a Wi-Fi network unless your Mac is already connected via Ethernet cable.
  5. Internet Recovery will then start downloading the installations files to your computer.

Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process. Don’t worry because this will not overwrite your drive; Internet Recovery will only install the latest version of macOS that you have on your computer.


If you see that your macOS Recovery is in a different language, you can either grab a friend who knows the language (if you’re lucky to know someone who does) or follow the methods mentioned above to change the language to something that you speak.

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