Mac startup key combinations
Learn about the Mac features and tools that you can access by holding down one or more keys during startup.
On an Intel-based Mac
To use any of these key combinations, press and hold the keys immediately after pressing the power button to turn on your Mac, or after your Mac begins to restart. Keep holding until the described behavior occurs.
- Command (⌘)-R: Start up from the built-in macOS Recovery system. Or use Option-Command-R or Shift-Option-Command-R to start up from macOS Recovery over the internet. macOS Recovery installs different versions of macOS, depending on the key combination you use. If your Mac is using a firmware password, you're prompted to enter the password.
- Option (⌥) or Alt: Start up to Startup Manager, which allows you to choose other available startup disks or volumes. If your Mac is using a firmware password, you're prompted to enter the password.
- Option-Command-P-R:Reset NVRAM or PRAM. If your Mac is using a firmware password, it ignores this key combination or starts up from macOS Recovery.
- Shift (⇧): Start up in safe mode. Disabled when using a firmware password.
- D: Start up to the Apple Diagnostics utility. Or use Option-Dto start up to this utility over the internet. Disabled when using a firmware password.
- N: Start up from a NetBoot server, if your Mac supports network startup volumes. To use the default boot image on the server, press and hold Option-N instead. Disabled when using a firmware password.
- Command-S: Start up in single-user mode. Disabled in macOS Mojave or later, or when using a firmware password.
- T: Start up in target disk mode. Disabled when using a firmware password.
- Command-V: Start up in verbose mode. Disabled when using a firmware password.
- Eject (⏏) or F12 or mouse button or trackpad button: Eject removable media, such as an optical disc. Disabled when using a firmware password.
If a key combination doesn't work at startup, one of these solutions might help:
- Press and hold all keys in the combination together, not one at a time.
- Shut down your Mac. Then press the power button to turn on your Mac. Then press and hold the keys as your Mac starts up. You might need to wait a few seconds before pressing the keys, to give your Mac more time to recognize the keyboard as it starts up. Some keyboards have a light that flashes briefly at startup, indicating that the keyboard is recognized and ready for use.
- If you're using a wireless keyboard, plug it into your Mac, if possible. Or use your built-in keyboard or a wired keyboard. If you're using a keyboard made for a PC, such as a keyboard with a Windows logo, try a keyboard made for Mac.
- If you're using Boot Camp to start up from Microsoft Windows, set Startup Disk preferences to start up from macOS instead. Then shut down or restart and try again.
To begin with, we will say that if you have another startup disk with a Mac-compatible operating system, your computer can boot from that disk instead of from the current startup disk. By default, Mac boots from its original built-in hard drive, but a startup disk can be any storage device that contains an operating system that your Mac supports.
For example, if you install macOS or Microsoft Windows (the latter you can use on the same disk with Boot Camp) on an internal or external drive, your Mac may recognize that drive as a startup disk. To boot it from that drive, the best you can do is use the Mac's Boot Manager, now you will see how simple it is.
Use the boot manager
If you use the Boot Manager to select a boot disk, the Mac will boot from that disk once and then go back to using the previously selected disk -the usual disk we go- in the Boot Disk preferences that you have configured in the system, we will see this in another moment. Now what interests us is to start the Mac from an external disk or similar, so we will follow these simple steps to carry it out:
- Press the Option (alt) key immediately after turning on or restarting the Mac and hearing the "chan"
- We release when key appears when you see the Boot Manager window
- If your Mac is protected by a firmware password, you can release the key when you are asked to enter the password
- We select the boot disk and then we will click on the arrow located under its icon or press the Enter key
One thing to keep in mind is that if we hold down the Control key (ctrl) during this last step, the selection will be saved in the Boot Disk preferences until you change it again in the system preferences option or by repeating the process but with the internal disk of the Mac. If your Mac has OS X Lion v10.7.3 or later installed, you can also use this method to start it from your Time Machine backup disk.
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Change your Mac startup disk
You can make your Mac start up from a CD or DVD, a network volume, a different disk, or another operating system. To do so, you change your startup disk.
Important: If you have a Mac with an Apple T2 chip, added security features may need to be set in order to change the startup disk. See What is the Startup Security Utility?.
Change your startup disk once
With your Mac or Mac with Apple silicon turned off:
On a Mac: Press and hold the Option key as you start up your Mac.
On a Mac with Apple silicon: Press and hold the power button until you see “Loading startup options.”
If you’re using a Mac Mini, wait for the system indicator light to turn amber.
When you see the available startup disks, select one, then click the Up arrow (on Mac) or Continue button (on Mac with Apple silicon.)
The next time you restart your computer, it starts up from the disk selected as your startup disk in System Preferences.
Change your startup disk for every startup
On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Startup Disk.
Open Startup Disk preferences for me
If the lock at the bottom left is locked , click it to unlock the preference pane.
Click the icon of the disk you want to use, then click Restart.
WARNING: When selecting a network startup volume, make sure you select a network startup volume and not a network install image. Choosing a network install image reinstalls your system software and may erase the contents of your disk. A standard network volume icon appears as a globe with a folder. A network install icon appears as a globe with a downward-pointing green arrow.
See alsoDetermine which disk started up your Mac
This project has been abandoned.
Boot Manager – Boot Manager is a handy utility to make it easier to reboot into your Boot Camp windows drive, or even another macOS install. It will also not permanently change your startup disk so once you reboot again, it’ll boot back to your standard OS. Choose to boot windows or another OS, no more waiting around holding the option key. Great for bluetooth keyboard users where option key might not always work.
Boot Manager is especially useful for people who use non-EFI graphics cards and therefore have lost access to the startup manager when starting up their Mac.
Quickly reboot into Windows or alternate macOS drives, no holding of option key or startup disk changing.
Enable menu bar only and have quick access to rebooting to your other operating systems, like Windows.
Boot Camp on PCI-e SSD and SATA Controllers
Support for Boot Camp in EFI mode on PCI-e SSDs and SATA PCI-e controllers.
- Before installing you must disable the System Integrity Protection (a.k.a. SIP).
To disable the System Integrity Protection, you must restart on the recovery partition (Recovery HD) and access the terminal in the Utilities menu and then execute the following command:
- Then go to the Releases section of the Boot Manager repository and download the latest installation package, and install it normally by double-clicking on it.
Boot Manager supports the following operating systems in the following modes, Some of the operating systems requires additional software.
|Operative System||Boot Modes|
|Windows (Installation DVD)||BIOS|
|Windows (Installation USB)||EFI|
|Linux x86 (Installation DVD)||BIOS|
Contributing to the Project
Boot Manager is an open source project, where all developers are welcome to contribute to the project by solving problems or adding new features.
If you are a developer who wants to contribute, you can make a fork of the main repository, where you can work an add your code and then open a pull request.
You can also contribute to the project as a Beta Tester, testing each new beta version or new features of the project and sharing your feedback with us to improve the development.
Donating to the Project
If you don't have enough time, the equipment or enough knowledge to contribute in any of the ways mentioned above to the project, you can also donate any amount through PayPal or Bitcoin.
Donate any amount:
Manager mac boot
- From the Apple menu choose System Preferences.
- Click the Startup Disk icon in System Preferences, or choose View > Startup Disk.
- Select your startup disk from the list of available volumes.
The next time you start up or restart your computer, your Mac starts up using the operating system on the selected volume.
Temporarily change your startup disk with Startup Manager
Startup Manager allows you to pick a volume to start from while the computer is starting up.
Use these steps to choose a startup disk with Startup Manager:
- Turn on or restart your Mac.
- Immediately press and hold the Option key. After a few seconds, the Startup Manager appears. If you don’t see the volume you want to use, wait a few moments for Startup Manager to finish scanning connected drives.
- Use your mouse or trackpad, or left and right arrow keys to select the volume you want to use.
- Double-click or press the Return key to start up your Mac from the volume you selected.
If you have an optical drive connected to your computer, you can insert an installation disc to see it in Startup Manager. You can also attach FireWire or USB external hard drives that contain an operating system to add to the list of startup volumes.
Startup Manager automatically adds bootable volumes as you connect them.
Restart in OS X from Boot Camp
If you have started up your Mac in Windows using Boot Camp, you can use the Boot Camp system tray to switch your startup disk default back to OS X.
- In Windows, click the Boot Camp icon in the system tray.
- From the menu that appears, choose Restart in OS X.
Start from OS X Recovery
You can also start your Mac from OS X Recovery or Internet Recovery if your Mac was manufactured after 2011.
To start your Mac from the Recovery System, use these steps:
- Start up or restart your computer.
- Hold down the Command and R keys on your keyboard until you see the Apple logo appear onscreen.
If you don’t see a volume listed
If you don’t see the volume you want to start your computer from, check the following:
- If you’re using an external drive, make sure it’s connected and turned on.
- Make sure you’ve installed an operating system, like OS X or Windows on the drive you’re trying to start from. Volumes that don’t contain a valid operating system aren’t listed in Startup Disk or Startup Manager.
- If you’ve installed an operating system on a drive but it isn’t listed, the volume you’re trying to start from might need repair. If the volume contains OS X, start your computer from OS X Recovery and use Disk Utility to repair the volume, or reinstall OS X on the volume using the Recovery System.
- Depending on the Mac you are using and the version of OS X that is installed, the Recovery System volume (Recovery HD) might not show up in Startup Manager. Press Command-R during startup to start your Mac from the Recovery System.
For 2018 / 2019 Macbook Pro with the Secure Boot T2 Chip, see the 2018 Macbook Pro Boot from USB instructions.
The rEFIt Project
rEFIt is a boot menu and maintenance toolkit for EFI-based machines like the Intel Macs. You can use it to boot multiple operating systems easily, including triple-boot setups with Boot Camp. It also provides an easy way to enter and explore the EFI pre-boot environment.
On this page: News - Download - Troubleshooting - Resources
Other pages: Documentation - Troubleshooting - Screenshot - Myths and Facts
2013-03-29: As you may have noticed, rEFIt is no longer actively maintained. Please check out rEFInd, a fork that is maintaned and under active development.
2010-03-12: The site has a new troubleshooting section. Some common problems are also listed below.
2010-03-07: Version 0.14 was released. This release adds a configuration option for the default boot choice, fixes the Linux/GRUB detection issue, and fixes Snow Leopard 64-bit issues.
The current release is 0.14. It is available in various forms. Both disk image distributions include the Installer package and can be burned as a bootable CD as well. All three binary distributions can be used to install rEFIt on a USB memory stick or other disk drives.
You can browse the source code online through the ViewVC interface to the Subversion repository at SourceForge.
See the troubleshooting section for a full list. Here are a few common problems:
- I just installed rEFIt, but the menu doesn’t show up.
- It takes two reboots after using the package installer. More...
- I can’t boot Windows/Linux from a USB hard disk.
- This is not well-supported by Apple’s firmware. More...
- I can’t boot Windows/Linux from the second internal hard disk.
- This is not explicitly supported by rEFIt at this time. More...
This project is hosted by SourceForge. You can use the trackers to submit bug reports, feature requests, and patches. The latest development source code is available from the Subversion repository. Other resources are listed on the project summary page.
To discuss rEFIt with other people, check out the OnMac Forums or the Dual Boot forum at InsanelyMac.
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Make an Intel Mac Boot Directly to Startup Manager
If you have an Intel Mac, you can make it boot directly into the boot disk options startup manager by issuing an nvram terminal command. This could be helpful for advanced users in particular whether they’re troubleshooting, have dual boot situations with multiple versions of macOS, macOS and Windows 10 in Boot Camp, macOS and Linux, for accessing a USB boot drive, a Time Machine restore disk, or myriad other situations where you’d want to boot a Mac directly into the startup manager.
Whether or not this is easier or faster than booting an Intel Mac from an external drive by holding down the Option key on system start and choosing the external volume to boot the Mac from is entirely up to you and your use case. But perhaps the Option/alt key isn’t working for some reason on a Mac, or you want to explore the boot options, or you can’t hold down the key on boot for some reason.
Booting Intel Mac Directly to Startup Disk Manager
As with all command line activity, start by opening the Terminal application, then issue the following command:
Because the command is prefixed with sudo you’ll have to enter the admin password.
Then it’s just a matter of restarting the Mac, or turning an off Mac back on again, where you’ll go directly to the boot manager.
If you executed this command at some point and aren’t sure if it’s enabled or not, you can always view and clear the nvram contents via command line too. And of course another way to clear NVRAM is to reset NVRAM / PRAM on an Intel Mac.
Similarly, you can enable Safe Boot Mode for Mac via the command line as well.
Remember this is specific to Intel Mac models, as the Apple Silicon Mac models do not have the same firmware options. If you want to explore more nvram commands and options, check out our archives on the subject.
This tip was found via Twitter from @martinnobel_, where the embedded video below shows what happens after the command has been executed.
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