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How to select a startup disk on your Mac

Macbook Pro With M1 Chip
Macbook Pro With M1 Chip (Image credit: iMore)

Whether you are looking to use Boot Camp with your best Mac or just need to do some serious troubleshooting, knowing how to select a startup disk on your Mac is a big help. Here's how to select a startup disk in macOS Monterey.

What is a startup disk?

A startup disk is a partition of your drive that contains an operating system. If you want, you can choose what startup disk to use when you boot up your Mac. This is a practice used by many people who decide to use Boot Camp to access Windows and macOS on their Macs.

How to select a startup disk on Mac

The Startup Manager lets you choose a different startup disk during boot. So if you have your Mac partitioned to run Windows or a macOS beta, for example, you can select that startup disk instead of the default disk.

  1. Start or restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the option key on your keyboard.
  2. Release the option key when you see the Startup Manager window.
  3. Select a startup disk.
  4. Click the arrow or press Return on your keyboard.

Important note: When you select a startup disk, ensure you aren't selecting an install image. If you do, that will trigger a reinstall of macOS and may erase your data.

A standard network volume icon appears as a globe with a folder. A network install icon appears as a globe with a downward-pointing green arrow. Be extra careful when selecting the right icon.

Other troubleshooting modes on startup

While knowing how to select a start disk can be important for troubleshooting reasons, there are a ton of different shortcuts you can take upon startup that may sometimes also be over services. So don't forget to familiarize yourself with those as well.

Luke Filipowicz
Luke Filipowicz

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.