Boot Keys for Mac OS X System Start Tutorial and Steps
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Every Mac has a variety of optional startup functions that can be used to intervene during the startup of the Mac OS X system. These are usually in the form of a single key pressed, or a press of keystrokes and keyboard shortcuts, which are used to run a command and thereby modify Mac OS X’s startup behavior. The effects of holding down the different keys during startup are varied, and each can be desirable for a wide variety of applications.
The boot keys available for Macs when starting the Mac OS X system are listed below.
To use these and get the desired effect on the system, start holding down the correct key or keystroke immediately after hearing the startup chime on a Mac, or as soon as you see the Apple logo – that could either be booting from a cold machine, or during system reboot, make sure to hold down the correct key early enough during the loading process to take effect, otherwise you’ll have to reboot and try again.
Mac Boot Modifications Keystrokes and Effects on Mac OS X System Start
These are listed as the startup keystroke followed by the effect on Mac OS X:
- Choice – Boot directly to the Startup Disk Manager, where you can choose to boot from an attached disk
- Command + R – Boot into Mac OS X recovery mode (modern versions of Mac OS X only)
- C. – Boot from a CD / DVD
- T. – Boot into target disk mode (FireWire or ThunderBolt only)
- N. – Boot from a connected network server (NetBoot mode)
- X – Attempt to force Mac OS X to boot
- Shift – Boot up in ‘Safe Mode’ which has limited functionality but disables third party extensions
- Command + V – Boot into extended mode
- Command + S – Boot into single user mode
I find myself using all of these tricks relatively common in Mac-centric IT work, but even before home users may need them from time to time to complete a variety of tasks, be it troubleshooting, fixing, or just learning about a Mac.
If you have individual usage scenarios or tips regarding startup keys changing Mac boot order or activity, share them in the comments below.
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