The Return of the Firmware Password on M1 Macs in macOS Monterey

Whenever Apple removes a feature, there is frequently a question of whether support will be restored completely, partially, or in some new form. After writing 2 posts on the demise of the Firmware password (the demise & addendum), thankfully the answer to this question is the latter.

Of the many video recordings at Apple’s 2021 WWDC, Apple released What’s new in managing Apple devices. Included in this video (11:32), Apple announced a new feature – Recovery passwords – that adds a password option in order to boot into Recovery Mode. This feature requires MDM.

UPDATE: This feature has also been backported to macOS Big Sur 11.5!

Unlike Firmware passwords, which if forgotten or left configured on a device acquired elsewhere required a trip to the Apple Store to beg for help, a configured Recovery password does not behave the same way.

  • In the event a user who manually enrolled a Mac into MDM decides to unenroll, the Recovery password also gets removed
  • An erased Mac also has the Recovery password removed

This in conjunction with the new ‘Erase all Contents and Settings’ feature for macOS provides much needed additional security to the Recovery OS with the flexibility to bring the Mac back to an original out-of-box state.

It’s great that Apple is listening to feedback, or simply continuing to reimplement features on Apple Silicon enjoyed on older Macs, and I for one look forward to hearing about all the additional management functionality with macOS Monterey!

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