Each operating system could crash at one time or another. While it's safe to say that macOS is more stable than Windows, it can still be affected by issues that prevent your computer from booting up. In such cases, you might need to boot your Mac from a USB flash drive to fix the problem. This article shows you two ways to boot Mac from external USB stick, as well as some troubleshooting tips in case Mac won't boot from the target USB.
Boot Mac from USB Option l: Startup Manager
RELATED: How to Install and Dual Boot Linux on a Mac. To actually boot the drive, reboot your Mac and hold down the Option key while it boots. You’ll see the boot options menu appear. Select the connected USB drive. The Mac will boot the Linux system from the connected USB drive. How to Boot Mac from USB Media. After creating a bootable USB drive, the user simply needs to plug the created drive into the open port on the Mac. Here are the steps to boot Mac from the USB flash drive: Power on the system. Press and hold the Option (Alt) key on the keyboard when the computer starts. Boot from a USB Flash Drive in VirtualBox (Mac OS X) Download and install VirtualBox for OS X Hosts via the.dmg file. Open a Terminal and type diskutil list. Diskutil list (make note of which disk is your USB drive I.E. /dev/disk#) Replacing # with the disk number of your USB drive, type. Diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk #. Then, plug the USB drive in again; this is necessary to get Windows to recognize your newly set-up USB drive properly. Copy the boot files onto the USB drive Finally, you'll need to copy several extra boot files onto the USB drive. Download the 'boot' file and 'Extra' folder; these are necessary files for the Mac OS X startup process.
If your Mac won't boot up normally, you can set it to boot from a different drive, such as a USB stick containing macOS installation files in bootable format. The drive will have to contain a version of the OS that is compatible with the Mac. As long as you have the bootable installation USB, you can start your Mac from the USB by accessing the Startup Manager. Here are the steps to be followed:
Step 1: Insert the bootable USB into Mac and power it on.
Step 2: As soon as the startup process begins, hold down the Option (alt) key and keep it depressed until you see the Startup Manager on your screen. If there is a firmware password on your Mac, hold down the Option key until you're asked to enter that password.
Boot Mac Pro From Usb Drive
Step 3: You will now see the various startup disk options, and your USB will be listed there. If you click on the Up arrow right below the icon for the USB, the computer will only startup once using this disk. If you press and hold down the Control key while making your selection, it will be saved, and your computer will boot from the USB every time, as long as it is left in the computer.
At this point, you can also use the Mac installation disk to boot your Mac from. It will appear as EFI Boot, and it works on all computers running macOS 10.9 or higher.
Boot Mac from USB Option 2: macOS Recovery Mode
As an alternative, you can start your Mac in Recovery Mode. This will allow the system to automatically detect and repair directory issues. Recovery Mode will only allow required kernel extensions to load, preventing login items and startup items to load automatically. It can also help you isolate the issue depending on whether or not the issue goes away in Recovery Mode. If the issues you have during normal startup don't show up in Recovery Mode, they are most likely fixed. That means you can reboot normally and your system should be back to normal.
Step 1: Start your Mac and hold down the Shift key. You will see the Apple logo on your screen.
Step 2: When you see the login screen, you can release the Shift key and login to your Mac.
Step 3: To check whether your Mac has booted into Recovery Mode, click on the Apple logo on the top left and then on About this Mac. In the window that opens, click on System Report… You should be able to see this:
How to Fix Mac Won't Boot from USB Drive
Sometimes Mac won't boot from USB as expected. If you are unable to select a different startup disk, it's possible that your disk is not showing up in Startup Manager. If you try Method 1 above but don't see your USB drive listed there, it could mean one of the following problems:
Compatibility: It is possible that the version of macOS or Mac OS X that you have on the USB drive is not compatible with the hardware. That means you won't be able to see it in the Startup Manager so, of course, you won't be able to boot from it. In such cases, you may need to burn a compatible macOS version on USB drive in order to be able to boot Mac from it.
Startup Security Utility: In certain cases where your Mac has the Apple T2 Security Chip (2018 and later devices), it may be your Startup Security Utility settings that are preventing you from booting from USB. In this situation, restart your Mac and hold down the Command + R keys when you see the Apple logo. This will put your Mac into Recovery mode. In macOS Utilities, go to Utilities >Startup Security Utility and sign in as admin. Under External Boot, select the second option - Allow Booting from External Media.
Option ROM Firmware: Another known issue is that Option ROM firmware will not load in Startup Manager until you press certain keys manually. To do this, use Method 1 to access Startup Manager. Once you are there, press Option-Shift-Command-Period. You should now be able to see the USB drive. This is not exactly a problem as much as a feature. If the USB contains Option ROM firmware, you will need to press those keys everytime to boot from your pen drive.
These two methods and the troubleshooting tips should allow you to boot from USB or in Recovery Mode so you can then isolate the problem that's preventing your Mac from booting up normally.
You set your Mac or Macbook which disk to start up from when more than one startup disk is connected. This works for USB drives including the NinjaStik
For 2018 to 2020 Macs with the Secure Boot T2 Chip, see the 2020 Macbook Pro Boot from USB instructions.
A “startup disk” is a volume or partition of a drive that contains a bootable operating system.
You can set your Mac to automatically use a specific startup volume, or you can temporarily override this choice at startup.
- 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.
Boot Mac From Usb Key Combination
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.
Restart Mac From Thumb Drive
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. Run mac software on windows.