Unlike Windows or Linux systems, macOS doesn’t allow users to access and modify firmware settings via UEFI. And this was just on Intel Macs.
New Apple Silicon Macs no longer use UEFI, and their boot process differs vastly from Intel Macs. Essentially, changing the boot order via the firmware interface is out of the question.
But that’s not to say it can’t be done. Instead of changing the boot order, macOS allows you to set the default boot drive using easy methods like the Startup Disk Utility.
Ways to Change Boot Drive
The first method (Startup Disk) changes the default boot drive permanently, while the second method (Startup Options) is typically used to change the boot drive for the next boot only.
Startup Disk Utility
As stated, the boot sequence on Macs is quite different from Windows and Linux systems. Thus, you can’t exactly set a boot order. Instead, you can set one default Startup Disk, which ultimately accomplishes a similar goal. To do this,
- Click on System Preferences from the dock. Alternatively, click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
- Scroll down and click on Startup Disk.
- Select the disk you want as the boot drive and press Restart.
Startup Options Menu
An alternative method is to access the Startup Options menu and choose the boot drive from there. Normally, this is used when you only need to change the boot drive for one session (e.g., when booting from a USB).
But it’s also possible to make your selection persistent. Here’s how you can do either of these:
- When powering on your Mac, do the following as appropriate:
- Apple Silicon Mac: Press and hold the Power button. This should get you to the Loading startup options screen.
- Mac Mini: Do the same as above until the system indicator light glows amber.
- Intel Mac: Press and hold the Option key.
- In the Startup Options Menu, select Boot Drive and press Continue or the Up Arrow to proceed.
- Your Mac will boot from the selected drive upon rebooting. If you want to make the selected drive the default option, press and hold Control when selecting it. That’ll work in most cases, but if it doesn’t, try holding Option instead, or Command, or all three simultaneously.
You normally won’t need third-party utilities, as the native methods from above will suffice in most cases. But it’s also no secret that the built-in boot manager on Macs offers limited options.
Some users like to have more control over the Boot Manager. For instance, we sometimes get asked how to change the display order of the boot entries or how to add new entries manually. For such scenarios, third-party boot managers like rEFInd can be useful.