I got my new MBP today and I plan to use MCE's OptiBay to place a second harddisk in the drive bay and put Windows via Bootcamp on it, but I heard / read that, at least with Snow Leopard, it was not really possible to install via an external optical drive with the Windows7 DVD. Has this changed lately or anyone done this successfully? rEfit pops up as a solution, but I wanted to know whether it's possible with the stock bootmanager/bootcamp assistant in Lion?

2 Answers 2


I have a new MBP 17 with my SuperDrive replaced with a hard drive, and with the SuperDrive mounted via USB externally. I have not been able to install via BootCamp, due to what I understand is some new issue with USB and EFI. I haven't heard of people having success with rEFit with the latest machines. The one solution that seems reliable is to open the machine and put the SuperDrive back into the second bay. The secondary drive can be put into the primary bay for Windows to be installed to it, and then the SuperDrive again removed and the drive with the BootCamp partition moved back to the optical bay. I can't verify the

Please note, I have yet to do this myself with my machine, though I plan to attempt it as soon as I get a few free hours.

  • Thanks for the answer, despite being a 'negative' one, it'll save me some extra trial and error, thanks! Aug 25, 2011 at 19:02
  • I can confirm that it's impossible to install Windows with BootCamp on a late-2011 MBP from an USB SuperDrive or flash stick. rEFIt won't help either, the only solution was to put the SuperDrive back into the Mac.
    – Vlad
    Feb 24, 2012 at 10:03
  • Dealing with this hell right now myself. When trying to install Windows with SuperDrive attached as USB, or from a USB stick using rEFIt, you just get a black screen with a cursor when it should be booting from the media. This is all despite the fact that the bootable media (DVD or otherwise) shows up in the boot loader. I have a mac mini; perhaps I can clone a bootcamp install.
    – moribvndvs
    Feb 29, 2012 at 18:54
  • So I have an update. It seems my second drive, a Crucial M4 SSD, did not like being on the second SATA channel, where the SuperDrive was connected. Swapping the position of the stock and the M4 SSDs fixed it.
    – moribvndvs
    Mar 1, 2012 at 1:02

I do not believe this is an issue of Windows 7 or OS X Lion, but rather an issue with Boot Camp itself. I believe that Boot Camp is designed to be used with the Mac's internal hard drive (or drives).

While I have never owned a Mac with more than one internal hard drive, I don't see why Boot Camp would not let you partition additional internal hard drives as well.

As far as external drives go, I now from experience that the Boot Camp Assistant in OS X Lion (and previous versions of OS X) does not even give you the option to modify the partitions of external drives. Hope this helps.

  • I believe he's asking about installing from an external optical drive, not to an external drive. You are, though, correct in your guess that you can partition secondary internal drives through Boot Camp, but not external drives.
    – matthias
    Aug 23, 2011 at 17:34
  • Thanks! Good point. So, to further clarify and make sure I get what he's saying: His OptiBay is one of those kits that will replace his optical drive with a second hard drive, right? If so, another way to look at his question is "can Boot Camp install Windows from an external optical drive"? If that is his question, then I do not know the answer. My experience with Boot Camp is limited to using the internal optical drive to install Windows. Aug 23, 2011 at 18:13
  • I was thinking about this some more. In theory, there could be a limitation that would keep the Mac from having access to the USB port when rebooting from the Assistant into the Windows setup. And you would need the USB port to use something like Apple's external USB optical drive. Interesting question! I'll vote it up. Aug 23, 2011 at 18:15
  • Christian / Matthias: I tried installing from an 'external' USB Stick once (this works for normal 'PCs' usually if they support booting off USB devices and is a common way to speed up Windows 7 installation) and this did NOT work. However, for the Air Apple has a KB that suggests using an external USB drive, other reports around the web say, it does NOT work. So I am basically wondering whether anyone knows this for a fact (yay or nay). Replacing the optical drive with the OptiBay is somewhat of a hassle to do it back and forth, hence the question. Aug 23, 2011 at 18:47

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