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This is a question about after installing more than one version of macOS in a dual/multi-boot scenario, all installed in the same APFS container/partition.

In the answer to APFS - Is it possible to install 2 macOS versions inside one APFS container? by @"David Anderson" there is a comment that states:

I can boot to one of the three macOS Recoveries stored on disk2s3 by holding down the ⌘+R key combination at startup. If the default startup disk is a APFS volume containing macOS, then the corresponding macOS recovery will startup. For example, if the startup disk is set to the APFS volume Machintosh HD 2, then holding down the ⌘+R key combination at startup will result in the Mac booting to High Sierra macOS Recovery on APFS Volume My Recovery.

Note: macOS Recovery no longer appears in the Mac Startup Manager. However, macOS Recovery, for a given macOS installation, can be booted using the rEFInd Boot Manager.

The question is how can you be sure which Recovery actually boots up? Is there a way to tell them apart to confirm you are in the desired Recovery tool actually corresponding to the current default startup volume (without having to resort to using rEFInd to select the desired one)?

(context is High Sierra and Mojave...not sure if this can apply to Catalina)

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This is 2013 iMac with High Sierra and Catalina installed in the same APFS container. When first booted to a recovery you will a small icon next to Reinstall macOS, which represents which macOS is install. Below is High Sierra.

Next is Catalina.

By selecting macOS Utilites->About macOS Utilities from the menu bar, you can get a larger icon. Below is High Sierra.

Next is Catalina.

By selecting Reinstall macOS from the initial window, you can get an even larger icon and a label. Below is High Sierra.

Next is Catalina.

By selecting Utilties->Terminal from the menu bar, you can get Terminal application window. If you enter the command sw_vers you will the the version of macOS. Below is High Sierra.

Next is Catalina.

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  • That's helpful. Too bad the "About macOS Utilities" only includes what looks like a build # and not something more descript like the actually macOS version for the tools. Thx. – sw.smayer97 Feb 15 at 2:31

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