Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X > Setting the default boot drive from the boot volume menu

Setting the default boot drive from the boot volume menu

This has been previously documented in a few places, but I just ran across this handy way to set the default boot drive from the boot volume menu.

When you start up a Mac holding down the Option key, the boot volume menu appears and displays all available bootable volumes. When you select a drive by clicking on it or selecting it with the arrow keys on your keyboard, it’ll boot from that drive until the next reboot. At the next reboot, unless you hold down the Option key again, the Mac will boot from whatever drive was set in the Startup Disk preference pane to be the default boot drive.

photo 1-1

However, there’s also a way to change the default boot volume from the boot volume menu. In this case, once you got to the boot volume menu, you can let go of the Option key, then hold down the Control key. At that point, you should see the upward arrow icon that points at the currently selected drive turn into a circular arrow.

photo 2-1

Once you select that drive and boot from it, it will now also be set as the Mac’s default boot drive.

  1. March 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Nice Tip and really useful.
    I have a Mac Mini that usually runs ESXi. Now I had to boot from an external HD for an event and had set the boot drive to be the external drive. Of course the Mini will again boot as an ESXi host if he does not find the external drive (and as I have reset the PRAM he is no longer looking for it) but its nice to know a good way to set it …

  2. Andy Boutte
    March 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    So useful…thanks! I see in your images that one of the partitions is titled “efi Boot” which I see occasionally on some of my bootable external hard drives. Can you shed any light on why that happens and how to resolve it?

  3. RMQ
    March 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Any options to disable wi-fi network scanning on boot screen? Hate it to broadcast machine presence to all routers around.. Thanks.

  4. cashxx
    March 28, 2013 at 12:27 am

    WOW….can’t believe I never new this! I always wondered about this and thought it would be possible, but never thought Control as the key. Usually any advanced options with Apple its Option or Command. Think you would have accidentally hit Control at some point and learned it….never knew this….thanks for posting! Might be nice for our Macs with Windows without Bootcamp installed and sometimes they take forever to boot. This will most likely fix that issue as it sets the the boot record and knows where it is then.

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