How To Change Your Mac’s Startup Disk?

Mac computers can be set to start up from a different disc than the one that is set as the default. This could be an external drive, a network volume, or a USB flash drive. This article tells you how to set up a new start-up disc on a Mac with Apple silicon or an older Mac with Intel silicon.

You can change your Mac’s startup disc just the next time it starts up or every time it starts up after that. Here, we’ll go over the steps for both possibilities. Note that changing your startup disc once is done in a different way on newer Macs with Apple silicon than on other Macs. Make sure to follow the steps that apply to you.

Before you go any further, you should know that if you have a Mac with an Apple T2 Security Chip, you may need to use the Startup Security Utility to set up extra security features to change the startup disc. Check out Apple’s user guide to learn more about the Startup Security Utility.

How To Change Your Startup Disk Once?

If your Mac is running, turn it off:

  • Click the Apple icon () in the menu bar, choose Shut Down…, and then click OK in the confirmation box.
  • Hold the power button until the screen says “Loading startup options.” (If you’re using a Mac mini, wait until the light next to the system indicator turns amber.)
  • When you see the available startup volumes, choose one and click the Continue button.

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Macs that use Intel:

  • If your Mac is running, turn it off: Click the Apple icon () in the menu bar, then choose Shut Down… and confirm when asked.
  • To turn on your Mac, press and hold the Option key while you press the power button.
  • When you see the list of startup discs, choose one and press the Up arrow.

How To Change Your Mac’s Startup Disk?

How To Change Your Mac's Startup Disk?
How To Change Your Mac’s Startup Disk?
  • Click the Apple symbol () in the menu bar of your Mac and choose System Settings….
  • Click General in the menu on the left.
  • On the right, click Start-up Disk.
  • Click on the disk’s icon to use it.
  • If you need to confirm the change, you can enter your admin password or use Touch ID.
  • Click Restart….

Apple tells users that when they choose a network startup volume, they should NOT choose a network install image. This is because if you choose a network install image, your system software will be reinstalled, and the contents of your disc may be erased.

To avoid this, remember that a standard network volume icon looks like a globe with a folder, while a network install icon looks like a globe with a green arrow pointing down.

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