I swear when I first installed windows on a partition of my Mac HD my computer would restart in the last operating system used. By that I mean that if I hit restart whilst in Windows, my computer would restart and boot up Windows and likewise for OS X. Ever since I was messing around with my system preferences and selected a startup disc, I now have to pick weather I want it to always restart in OS X or always in Windows. How do I get it back to the way it was (or was it never that way)? Thanks.

  • My system always boots into Windows, regardless of the setting in System Preferences. The only way I can boot into Mac is holding Option when it restarts and selecting the Mac partition there.
    – tubedogg
    Apr 30 '15 at 4:02
  • I updated my answer. See Update 2. Apr 30 '15 at 8:19
  • @tubedogg have you ever used the bless command in a Terminal application window to change the startup operating system? Or, at least use bless to check which operating system is currently the default. May 1 '15 at 9:03

The answer is it was never worked that way. If you want it to work that way, you have to install a boot manager. The most common free one is call rEFInd. Most people install this software in the OS X partition, but this can lead to problems when you install updates. I installed rEFInd in its own partition to avoid such problems.

I would go with @ryebread's answer and just use either "Startup Disk" on OS X System Preferences or "Boot Camp" menu on Windows Control Panel. An example of this is shown below. Here, Windows is set as startup.

enter image description here

If I want to switch to OS X, then I need to click on the OS X icon to highlight it. This is shown below.

enter image description here

I am now set to boot to OS X. There is no need to do a Restart. I can just close the window.

(Actually in practice, you will probably end up selecting the Restart button.)

Update 1:

If you want to boot from OS X to Windows while leaving OS X as the default, then you would need to enter the bless command from a Terminal application window. Or, you can create a script launched as a Service via the Automator application. An example script is given here.

Update 2:

After some testing, I found if no system is highlighted in the Startup Disk window, then the computer always boots to OS X. I am not sure what your computer was doing originally. I think what you want is for the computer to always boot to the last operating system that ran. If this is true, then rEFInd is probably the best way to go. On my computer, rEFInd only occupies 6 MB of space. If you need help installing, let me know.

BTW, I removed the highlighting by blessing a flash drive.

  • But I specifically remember updating Windows and having it restart in Windows (just now when I updated it I had to hold option to get it back to windows). And I know it wouldn't boot in windows if I had been using OS X. Are you 100% sure that it right when I installed windows, before I had messed around with the startup disc, that if I restarted my computer in Windows it would boot OS X?
    – Mason
    Apr 30 '15 at 6:08
  • There is a slight possibility that if you'd never previously touched the Startup Disk pref pane, there wasn't a default set. I have no clue how to test that, or to set it back that way, if true. Just a wild theory.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 30 '15 at 6:27
  • "I think what you want is for the computer to always boot to the last operating system that ran" Yes, that's what I want.
    – Mason
    Apr 30 '15 at 16:40
  • @Mason: To see how hard it would be to create a new partition on your internal drive, you would need to enter the command sudo gpt -r show /dev/disk0 from a Terminal widow. Edit your question and add the results. The command will ask for your password. This is normal. The command does not change your computer. Apr 30 '15 at 19:37

Firstly, if you hold down the Option key just after the boot chime, you can get to a "boot menu" where you can select the drive that you want to boot from. It will look something like this:

Boot Menu

Secondly, selecting your boot drive in System Preferences does exactly what you are describing. You select Windows, and then it boots to Windows. When you restart, you come back to Windows. When you switch to boot from OS X in the boot selector from within Windows, then you will boot into OS X until told to boot to Windows.

AFAIK, if you switch the boot drive from the Option boot menu, that is a temporary change, and the next reboot will be whatever is selected in System Preferences. I don't have a dual-boot machine here to test that theory, unfortunately. However, since that boot menu can be used to boot onto optical media as well, it would make sense that it is a temporary change.

  • The boot menu is intended to be a temporary change, yes.
    – tubedogg
    Apr 30 '15 at 4:00
  • 1
    I know how to select the boot disc every time I restart. What I want is when I hit restart on operating system X, my computer restarts in operating system X automatically.
    – Mason
    Apr 30 '15 at 4:12
  • Are you saying if you select OS X as the boot drive in System Preferences, and hit reboot, you don't come back to OS X?
    – ryebread
    Apr 30 '15 at 4:34
  • @ryebread No, that's not what I'm saying. Let me try to clarify that when I say "hit restart on operating system X" I mean hit the plain old restart that's in the power options while on operating system X. I do not mean select operating system X in the boot drive menu and then hit restart there.
    – Mason
    Apr 30 '15 at 16:33

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