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My Macbook air has a keyboard issue, the Z key does not work except upon startup where it becomes stuck for several seconds.

This interferes with opening the boot menu on startup, because it detects the combination of Command + Z instead of just Command, so I can never enter the boot menu.

How do I get into the boot menu with my faulty keyboard?

EDIT: I have tried an external keyboard but the system still recognizes the faulty internal one.

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Do you mean Startup Manager (the view for choosing a startup volume)? It should be shown when holding option, not command. –  Lri May 22 '13 at 7:09
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3 Answers 3

You could try installing rEFIt, which will give you a boot menu every time you boot up.

http://refit.sourceforge.net

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I've checked Apple's knowledgebase and the web and cannot find a startup key sequence that uses the Z key.

As for how to get your MacBook Air (MBA) to recognize an external keyboard on startup, you may need to connect an external monitor and the external keyboard (using USB, not Bluetooth). Then startup the MBA with the lid closed (either using a power button on the external keyboard, or push the power button on the MBA and close the lid).

Like the other poster, I'm not sure what you mean by "boot menu," but hopefully this will help.

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I think the OP means that the Z key is inadvertently detected, not that the Z key is needed for a startup key sequence. –  Dave Sep 2 '13 at 2:32
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If it's an older MacBook Air with an infrared receiver you can try holding the "Menu" button on an Apple remote to access the Startup Manager. The newer (Late-2010 and up) MacBook Airs don't have infrared capabilities though, so this is limited to the pre late-2010 MacBook Airs.

I seem to recall that this trumps keyboard keys being held down but after a quick search I couldn't find documentation to confirm/deny that.

Alternately you could set the desired startup disk in the System Preferences > Startup Disk preference pane, or use the bless command in terminal to designate a startup disk.

The only other option I can think of is removing the bottom case, disconnecting the top cases (keyboard is part of the top case) connection to the logic board and then using an external keyboard.

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