I was gifted a 2011 Mac Mini and I decided to try and get the thing up and running with a recent enough version of MacOS. When I turned the thing on, I was greeted with a fast boot to grub, indicating CentOS 7 was installed.

In my efforts to get the thing to boot from my bootable USB drive, I have been completely unsuccessful. I've tried multiple different key commands at boot up (Option+R, Command+Option+R, Shift+command+option+R, c, t) all offer the same behavior: a speed boot back to the grub bootloader. My assumption is that the recovery partition was nuked when the previous owner threw linux on this thing, but I'm not entirely sure how I can repair this. My original thought was to try and get the thing into Target Disk mode, but no joy.

Is there another path forward or will I likely need to pull the drive out, wipe it and maybe throw it in another mac to format the thing?

EDIT: So, despite having used this keyboard to boot OTHER macs into recovery mode, this one needed an entirely different keyboard. Key presses were not recognized at boot but now are. I appreciate everyone who provided feedback about this.

  • 1
    Target Disk Mode is certainly a good option. What do you mean by "but no joy"? Can you clarify what you did, and with what other computer?
    – Monomeeth
    Aug 13, 2019 at 2:10
  • When I attempted to put the mac mini into target disk mode (T at startup when chime occurs), I was simply whisked away to the grub bootloader. I tried this while connected to my 2012 MBP and while disconnected from that as well.
    – pc98user
    Aug 13, 2019 at 2:18
  • Ok, what happens if you press the T key before you even hear the startup chime?
    – Monomeeth
    Aug 13, 2019 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


If you have an bootable macOS installer USB (Here is how to make one), boot from the installer directly by holding Option Key.

The options would require having access to a Mac (VM or real)

Another option could be to install macOS on an external drive and boot from it(holding option while booting), and try to install macOS on the internal disk.

Third option could be, remove internal disk from the MacMini, get a 2.5inch SATA to USB adapter, install macOS on the "external disk". Reinstall, and auto boot from the newly installed macOS HDD(or SSD). Might be a good opportunity to upgrade to a SSD.

  • I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me! Unfortunately, holding down option at boot up does not seem to work as intended on this machine as I am taken directly to the grub bootloader. I know the USB is good because I just used this yesterday to install mac os on another machine (2010 macbook air). I this does point me in the right direction though, so I appreciate your response.
    – pc98user
    Aug 13, 2019 at 2:39
  • Probably worth removing the Hard disk from your mac mini, format, and install macOS on the hard disk from your Macbook. So that the Mac Mini would only have one boot device which has macOS preloaded
    – Vinny
    Aug 13, 2019 at 2:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .