From time to time, you’ll probably find yourself in a situation where you need to completely reset and restore your Mac (which is why I keep pestering people to do regular Mac backups). This could be due to a glitch or simply because you want a clean slate with a fresh install of macOS. However, sometimes when you’re in Mac recovery mode and try to install macOS, you’ll see a “recovery server could not be contacted” error. If this happens to you, don’t worry, here’s how to fix the macOS error “the recovery server could not be contacted”.

Fixed Recovery Server Could Not Be Contacted in macOS

There are several possible solutions for this error. In this article, I will go through all these methods, from the easiest to the most time-consuming that you can use. There are links to each method below to make it easier for you to get to the solution you want to try.

The patch recovery server could not be contacted during macOS recovery

Check your network connection

It might seem like a pretty obvious thing to do, but sometimes you’ll find you’re not connected to WiFi when trying to restore your Mac. Doing this is simple.

Click on the WiFi icon at the top right of your screen and make sure you are connected to your WiFi network.

If so and the error persists, continue to the next step.

Correct system time and date manually

One of the most common reasons why your Mac may not be able to download the macOS installer is time and date differences. This happens quite often when you’re in recovery mode, and it’s also a possibility if you’re running macOS in a virtual machine. Fortunately, the solution is simple.

  • Launch Terminal from the Utilities menu.
  • Type the following command date
  • If the date and time are incorrect, just use the following command to set them to the correct value date mmddhhssyy
  • For example, if I wanted to set the time and date to December 8, 2020, 3:47 p.m., the command will be date 1208154720

Try installing macOS from recovery again and it should work.

Install macOS from a bootable USB drive

If nothing seems to work, you’ll need to install macOS using a bootable USB. This process requires a considerable amount of work on your part, but it is not difficult. All you need is a USB stick with at least 16GB of storage and a Mac that you can use to download the version of macOS you want to install.

We have a user-friendly step-by-step guide to performing a clean install of macOS that you can review and follow.

Fix “The recovery server could not be contacted” error when updating macOS

Sometimes the error “the recovery server could not be contacted” appears when you simply try to update your Mac to a newer version of macOS. In these situations, you can try the following steps instead.

Update your system time and sync it with Apple’s servers

One of the most common reasons why your Mac may not be able to download the macOS installer is time and date differences. Fortunately, the solution is simple.

For Macs running software earlier than macOS Mojave

If you’re not using macOS Mojave or later on your Mac, follow these steps.

  • Launch terminal.
  • Use the following command to synchronize your system clock with Apple servers. ntpdate -u

To note: If the command does not work, try giving yourself superuser rights with the following command.

sudo ntpdate -u

For Macs running macOS Mojave or later

Oddly enough, Apple removed the ntpdate command with macOS Mojave, so the commands mentioned above won’t work for you. Fortunately, there is a replacement command for newer Apple systems.

  • Launch the terminal.
  • Use the following command sntp -sS

To note: Again, if you get an “Operation not allowed” error, run the command with sudo as shown below.

sudo sntp -sS

Install macOS using Apple’s “softwareupdate” terminal command

You can also try installing macOS using terminal commands thanks to Apple’s built-in “softwareupdate” command.

If you know the version of macOS you want to install, use the following command:

sudo softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer –fetch-installer-version

For example, if you want to update to macOS Big Sur, you can use macOS_version as 11.0.1 as shown below

sudo softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer –fetch-installer-version 11.0.1

Alternatively, you can also simply upgrade to the latest version of macOS available using the following command

sudo softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer

To note: This command, although useful, is currently buggy and you will sometimes get errors such as “no update available”. Also, it only works on Catalina and above.

Install macOS using MacAdmin scripts

If you are unable to update macOS because of the buggy command officially supported by Apple, there is another convenient way to use Terminal and update your Mac.

  • Go to GitHub and To download MacAdmin Scripts zip file.
  • Extract this file to “/Users/shared/”. This is important because macOS Catalina and later sometimes won’t let this script run if placed in folders like Desktop, Documents, or Downloads.
    • If you don’t know how to access /Users/shared/, just open Finder and press Command + Shift + G. Now type /Users/shared and press Return key.
    • Paste the downloaded zip file here and extract it.
  • Now launch Terminal and type the following command cd /Users/shared/macadmin-scripts-main/
  • Now run this command sudo ./
  • It will download the list of available versions of macOS for you. Just choose the one you want to download. For example, I choose option ‘8’ for macOS Catalina 10.15.7.
  • The script will download a bunch of files. This may take some time, depending on your network speed. Make sure your Mac does not go to sleep while the script is running or the installer download may be interrupted.
  • Once the download is complete, you will find the installer image in the macadmin-scripts-main folder. Just double-click it to mount it, then run the installer.

Fixed recovery server could not be contacted

Errors during installation or recovery can be quite annoying to deal with. Hope this guide helped you fix the problem with macOS Recovery Server and you have successfully reinstalled macOS on your computer. Either way, if you’re stuck on a step or just want to complain about Apple’s servers, feel free to comment below.