Model: Macbook Pro 2010 mid
OS: OS X 10.9 Hard Drive: WD5000BPKT 500GB

For some reason I need to change my perfectly working internal bootable drive to external bootable drive.

I took out my internal hard drive, put it into closure, and then connected it to mbp with USB. But my mac cannot even recognize my external hard drive. It displays a folder with a question mark with grey background, which means it cannot find executable boot drive. I tried pressing option key during startup and nothing showed. Also, I tried resetting parameter RAM but still no luck. Any help will be appreciated.

  • 1
    The answer to your question should be yes. Did you try booting from a USB stick (with a Bootable OSX on it) ? (just to see what happens) Dec 1, 2013 at 2:15
  • No, but I tried using CCC to clone my internal hard drive to SSD and it works when it is connected externally. @Matthieu Riegler
    – Alex
    Dec 1, 2013 at 5:44

1 Answer 1

  1. Connect the external drive or device to the Mac
  2. Reboot the Mac and after the startup chime hold down the OPTION key during boot until you see the boot selection menu
  3. Click the external volume to boot from it

After this steps, you will find that external drives typically are shown with an orange icon, with their interface printed on the icon itself. Similarly, CD’s and DVD’s are shown with a disc icon. In this screen shot example, the right-most orange boot drive is a USB flash disk.

This works for quite literally any boot volume, whether it’s an external USB drive of any sort, a Thunderbolt hard drive, boot DVD, CD, the Recovery partition, even in dual-boot environments with other versions of OS X, or a Linux or a Windows partition with Boot Camp, if it’s bootable and connected to the Mac it will be visible at this boot manager.

Though boot DVD’s and CD’s will be visible through the aforementioned boot manager, you can also start the Mac directly to DVD or a connected disc by holding down the “D” key during restart after you hear the chime. This is fairly uncommon these days, but it was the primary method of accessing recovery partitions before OS X became a download from the App Store, and before USB installer drives became more common.

Additionally, Macs with recovery partitions can be start directly into Recovery HD by holding down Command+R during system start.

Though recovery and discs can be booted with their own commands, it’s ultimately easier to just remember the Option key method since it is a single key and because it’s universal. The only exception is with target disk mode, which requires a different sequence to use.

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