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I want to alter the default startup disk whilst in macOS, I have Windows installed on Boot Camp.

Standard user accounts on my computer can't change the default startup disk without requiring an admin password since the Preference Pane is locked to standard users.

I'm wondering if perhaps an Applescript embedding some sudo command that the user can open like a folder or app and then change the startup disk without using an admin password.

I know you can just hold down Opt when restarting to choose the startup volume but I've set a firmware password so standard users can't access this method.

Can I unlock the Startup Disk Preference Pane in System Preferences for standard users without needing to give them admin privileges to unlock anything else?

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2 Answers 2

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You can install the rEFInd Boot Manager, which does not require a password to select the operation system to boot. You will need the firmware password to set rEFInd as the default to boot on startup from the Mac Startup Manager. Afterwards, your Mac will boot to rEFInd, where any user can then select macOS or Windows.

You can install rEFInd directly from macOS without have to disable SIP or from Windows. You will need to use the --usedefault option when entering the refind-install command. If you have a UEFI booting Windows, then you probably will be better off installing rEFInd to a new EFI or FAT32 partition.

You can also configure rEFInd so the default operating system can be select directly from macOS or Windows. However, this would also require writing macOS and Windows scripts to do so.

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  • Thanks, I'm having a go at installing rEFI Boot Manager now
    – helloworld
    Sep 22, 2022 at 10:11
  • Thanks David, just installed it now and it's working a charm so far. Cheers for the advice. Any idea if there is documentation for this "You can also configure rEFInd so the default operating system can be select directly from macOS or Windows. However, this would also require writing macOS and Windows scripts to do so." on the refind website?
    – helloworld
    Nov 4, 2022 at 1:46
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I think there must be a reason why the disk switch has been protected with a firmware password.

To do e.g. a startup disk modification, you still need an admin password, because you need to call the command with a sudoat the beginning.

e.g. sudo bless --mount /Volumes/Startup_Disk_Name --setBoot

And if you can get this command to work without an admin password, you'll be asked for the firmware password instead, when starting up on the other disk.

--setBoot Set the system to boot off the specified partition. This is implemented in a platform-specific manner. On Open Firmware-based systems, the boot-device variable is modified. On EFI-based systems, the efi-boot-device variable is changed. This is not supported on Apple Silicon based systems.

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  • I thought SIP prevented using bless to select the default operating system to boot. Sep 20, 2022 at 13:51
  • Side note - I have tried the --setBoot method whilst in recovery mode in terminal but when I specify /Volumes/BOOTCAMP as the preferred boot drive, it starts up with this weird folder with a question mark screen saying apple.com/startup or something.
    – helloworld
    Sep 22, 2022 at 9:29
  • Yeah the start up disk need to be a macOS start up disk - a Windows disk won't work - that's also why you need a macOS partition to start up on when using Bootcamp - it is not Bootcamp directly you start up in. Sep 22, 2022 at 14:58

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