Pin Me

Mac OS X Startup Shortcuts Explained

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 10/9/2010

A variety of shortcuts and display information are available at startup in Mac OS X - and we've got all the keyboard shortcuts you need to use them!

  • slide 1 of 3

    Mac OS X Startup Shortcuts

    The Mac OS Display Startup Apps Keyboard Shortcuts Explained Ever fancied turning your Mac into an oversized Firewire storage device? Or howabout ejecting a CD with a single mouse click? Perhaps you want to view loads of UNIX text as your Mac boots?

    Alternatively, you might like to try a Safe Boot – or perhaps reset the PRAM.

    Apple Mac OS features a good selection of startup apps, allowing you to use you Mac in a new and interesting way and also perform some system maintenance tasks!

    These apps are all available via keyboard shortcuts – we’re going to go through each of these below and explain what they all do!

  • slide 2 of 3

    The Mac OS X Startup Apps List

    A number of keyboard shortcuts are available for you to change the way in which your Apple Mac OS X device works. These should all be pressed after the boot chime, before the grey Apple logo appears on your monitor.

    C – with this, you can opt to boot from CD or DVD rather than the computer’s hard disk.

    T – this is a great option, one that allows you to start up your Mac in “FireWire target mode". This means that your Mac is now an oversized Firewire storage device!

    X – use this to boot into Mac OS X if you have a computer that dual-boots into OS 9

    N – to start your Mac from a network drive, press N as the computer boots

    SHIFT – possibly one of the most common maintenance start-up options, pressing SHIFT boots your Mac into safe mode

    Mouse button – clicking the mouse button after the chime ejects any disc in your Mac’s CD or DVD player before booting.

    OPTION key – situated between CTRL and COMMAND, the Option key can be pressed at boot to allow you to choose a start-up disk.

  • slide 3 of 3

    Mac OS X Unix Display at Start-up

    Other options are also available, all requiring you to use the COMMAND key or COMMAND +OPTION, in conjunction with one or two other keys.

    COMMAND +OPTION+V – described as a “verbose boot", this option displays the UNIX code as your Mac boots.

    COMMAND-S – this is a rarely used option that allows you to boot into single user mode. A password may be required, and you will see your Mac opens directly into the console. It is advisable to type exit when done.

    COMMAND +OPTION+O+F – this keyboard shortcut allows booting into the Open Firmware prompt, another direct-access console.

    COMMAND +OPTION+P+R – Mac users should be familiar with this option - reset the system PRAM with this keyboard combination to stop your computer running on occasionally corrupt settings in the PRAM memory.

    COMMAND +OPTION+SHIFT+DELETE – if you wish to boot from an external device, you can bypass the internal hard drive using this option.

    This is a considerably useful selection of keyboard shortcuts that will allow you to get more use from your Mac; why not print these details out for future reference?