Or you can use startup shortcuts to select a boot device other than the default startup drive you usually use. Of course, there are many other startup shortcuts, and we've gathered them all here. If you're using a wired keyboard, you should use the keyboard shortcut combinations immediately after pressing the Mac's power switch, or, if you used the Restart command, after the Mac's power light goes out or the display goes black.
If you're having problems with your Mac and are using the startup keyboard shortcuts to assist in troubleshooting, I strongly recommend using a wired keyboard to eliminate any Bluetooth problems that may prevent the Mac from recognizing the use of keyboard shortcuts. Any USB keyboard will work in this role; it doesn't need to be an Apple keyboard.
Mac Startup Keyboard Shortcuts
If you're using a Windows keyboard, learning about Window's keyboard equivalents for the Mac's special keys can be helpful in figuring out the proper keys to use. If you're using a wireless keyboard, wait until you hear the startup sound , then immediately use the keyboard shortcut.
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If you hold down a key on your wireless keyboard before you hear the startup chimes, your Mac won't correctly register the key you're holding down, and will likely boot up normally. Some Mac models from late and later lack the startup chimes. If you're using one of these Mac models press the appropriate startup key combination immediately after starting your Mac, or if using the restart function right after the screen goes black.
These startup shortcuts come in handy if you need to troubleshoot your Mac, or you just want to boot from a different volume than usual. Share Pin Email. Tom Nelson has written hundreds of articles, tutorials, and reviews for Other World Computing and About. He is the president of Coyote Moon, Inc.
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Updated November 11, Hold the 'x' key during startup. In some cases, an alternate OS may prevent the Mac's normal boot manager from running.
If you have created a bootable Mac OS installer on a flash drive , this is an easy way to boot from the installer. Hold the 'n' key during startup to boot from a networked computer that has a NetBoot volume. This mode lets you use any Mac with a FireWire or Thunderbolt port as the source for your bootup system.
macOS Boot Modes and Key Combinations
Hold the 'd' key during startup. If there are several USB storage devices connected to your Mac, Startup Manager will only list the ones containing bootable volumes. Full tutorial: Now click the Startup Disk pane. You will be presented with various disk icons.
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Now click the Restart button to start up your Mac using the chosen volume. Should you run into problems whilst attempting to boot your Mac from an external storage device, consult our FAQ below to help troubleshoot any start up issues you may be plagued with. Depending on its model and power requirements, it may be necessary to connect your USB storage device to an external power supply. Make sure your external storage is turned on and connected to your Mac.
7 Mac Startup Options Every OS X User Should Know
In the worst case scenario, you might need to reinstall OS X on the external volume. Using an external hub to connect several USB storage devices may cause your Mac to fail to recognize them at boot time. Try connecting the USB drive to another port on the hub. Both wired and wireless Apple Keyboard, and some other keyboards with built-in USB ports, may not supply enough power to some external USB hard drives.
The same disclaimer applies to holding the left button on a wireless mouse at boot time to open the disc tray. Your Mac can start up in a number of different ways, including the following methods that our tutorials provide step-by-step instructions for:.