I have recently obtained a Mac Mini second-hand from an organisation. When I power on the device it boots Windows 7, however, I'm unable to boot from a USB due to the Mac Mini not opening it's Startup Manager/BIOS/Boot Menu/Open Firmware... whatever it's called.

I've tried Alt, F8-12 and even tried Shift for safe mode but every time it boots Windows 7.

If the organisation has blocked the boot menu from loading is there a way to unblock it (and possibly boot from a USB).

Edit: I only own a Windows QWERTY keyboard... is that the issue?


  • Note you can get Apple wired keyboards (known as the A1243) on such as eBay for $£€ 25 - 40.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 2, 2021 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


It’s possible that your Windows-specific keyboard isn’t sending the correct keycode for the Option (Alt) key. To rule out hardware damage, have you confirmed that the Alt key works when booted into Windows or plugged into a different computer?

A workaround is to open the Mac Mini, disconnect the hard drive, and attach a USB flash drive containing a macOS installer (How to create a bootable installer for macOS). You’d still need a way to install onto the hard drive, which means buying an external USB enclosure for the internal drive... I think it’s just easier to try an Apple keyboard.

  • 2
    I have a Win keyboard on one of the Macs here - alt works just fine as opt while the machine is running, but it won't see it as the boot chooser key at startup (or indeed any startup key combo, not just Opt). I have to plug in a real Apple keyboard to do that.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 2, 2021 at 10:50

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