Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
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. support.apple.com/kb/PH11132?viewlocale=en_US –  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

3 Answers 3

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

Source: https://support.apple.com/kb/ht204063

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.