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I have Windows 7 installed on a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

According to Apple's Boot Camp Installation and Setup Guide, pg. 10...

Select an operating system during startup

You can select which operating system to use during startup by holding down the Option key.

This displays icons for all available startup disks and lets you override the default setting for the startup disk that is in Startup Disk preferences (OS X) or the Boot Camp control panel (Windows), without changing that setting.

1 Restart your Mac and hold down the Option key until disk icons appear onscreen.

2 Select the startup disk with the operating system you want to use, then click the arrow beneath the icon.

I'm finding that holding down the option key has no effect -- the machine boots into whichever OS was last running.

This is true whether I'm starting from the shut-down condition, or restarting.

I've tried hold down each of the two option keys and I've tried holding down both at once.

I've tried pressing the keys from before the startup chime and just after.

The only way I've been able to control which OS starts up is to restart from the Boot Camp control panel in OS X in either OS.

Any thoughts on how to get the machine to behave as described in the docs?

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Just clarifying: you're trying to press Option on a stock macbook's keyboard or a wireless keyboard? – Igor Hatarist Aug 18 '13 at 18:06
On the laptop's own built-in keyboard. – Agvorth Aug 18 '13 at 18:09
Also try to reproduce the bug with a USB keyboard connected to the Macbook; as a last resort, you can install a third-party boot manager rEFInd, it will show up on its own without need to press Option – Igor Hatarist Aug 18 '13 at 18:09
As stated here, if on a Wireless keyboard, press Alt when you hear the chime. Before that, keyboard is not detected. – AbiusX Jun 25 '14 at 6:06
Boot sequence is prime espionage target. Must be simple, transparent. Booted software takes control over machine. Any unexpected behavior here suspect. Option key must always go straight to menu. – user98843 Nov 2 '14 at 20:34

7 Answers 7

Two things to try:

  1. Hold Option before pressing the power button and don't release it until you see the Boot Menu.

  2. If that doesn't work, try resetting your Macbook Pro SMC as explained here.

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Through experimentation, I found that disconnecting the Apple extended keyboard from an unpowered USB bus and reconnecting it directly to a USB port on the back of my Apple Cinema Display fixed this problem. Apparently the firmware that's necessary to choose which partition to boot from won't act on holding down the Option key otherwise.

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I had a similar issue and the below trick solved it.

Resetting NVRAM

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R.
  3. Turn on your Mac.
  4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys immediately after you hear the startup sound.
  5. Hold these keys until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for a second time.
  6. Release the keys.


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I've had similar issues : while I was holding the key, the system would do as if if didn't recognize the keyboard(I'm on a iMac, with Bluetooth connection between the computer and the keyboard). On the contrary, with a usb port keyboard, it worked anytime ! (but that wasn't practical to plug another keyboard)

I understood that you have to be sure that the Bluetooth connects. So this is how to do it :

  • while the computer is off, let's make sure that the keyboard is also off (for example, by pressing its own power button)
  • Now let's put the keyboard on : if the keyboard was off, it will search for a new connection - the green light of the keyboard must blink
  • Then you can turn on the computer and follow the clear instructions from above ("resetting NVRAM"). I suggest that you hold the option key (ALT) directly after having push the computer start button , so that the Bluetooth connects directly.

That works everytime.

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There are 2 methods if the Option key doesn't work.

METHOD 1 @Amol mentioned it, his answer is perfectly correct. On your Mac, go to:

System Preferences > Startup Disk

Now click the Operating System that you want your next start to boot into.

Truly simple.


Download rEFIt and install it. Then reboot.

You might need to reboot twice or more before the rEFIt menu starts showing up on boot.

Good luck :)

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Just go to System Preferences in Mac and choose Startup Disk. It will give you choice of Windows or Mac as want for your next start up of your computer.

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I just had the same problem on osx 10.11, I have used refind before and thought that installing it might help, as it turns out it did and it works fine, the main difference between refit and refind is that by default refit installs to the os x root partition but refind install s th the hidden EFI partition meaning that it shouldn't just stop working randomly like refit has for me in the past.

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