macOS Tips & Tricks

Important Must-Know Startup Commands for Mac

Learn the commands to boot your Mac into Firewire Target Disk mode, Safe boot mode, Verbose mode, from a bootable CD/DVD/USB drive, resetting the NVRAM, ejecting removable media liked a CD.

The following commands are to be used with intel-based Mac’s and may not work on Power PC Mac’s.

For the best experience with startup keys, press the keys immediately after you hear the startup tone.

Press C during startup – Start up from a bootable CD or DVD, such as the Mac OS X Install disc that came with the computer.
Press D during startup – Start up in Apple Hardware Test (AHT), if the Install DVD 1 is in the computer
Press Option-Command-P-R until you hear two beeps – Reset NVRAM
Press Option during startup – Starts into Startup Manager, where you can select a Mac OS X volume to start from. Note: Press N to make the the first bootable Network volume appear as well.
Press Eject, F12, or hold the mouse (/trackpad) button – Ejects any removable media, such as an optical disc.
Press N during startup – Attempt to start up from a compatible network server (NetBoot).
Press T during startup – Start up in FireWire Target Disk mode.
Press Shift during startup – Start up in Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items.
Press Command-V during startup –  Start up in Verbose mode.
Press Command-S during startup –  Start up in Single-User mode.
Press Option-N during startup –  Start from a NetBoot server using the default boot image.

Don’t like the boot sound your Mac makes when you first start it up? Check out our tutorial on how to disable the boot sound on your Mac, this may help if you need to boot up in a quiet place or during a meeting!

About the author


Kevin is the Founder and Senior Editor of Tech Heavy. When he isn't writing about the latest tech tools he spends his days working in an IT department in Dubuque, IA. @kevincray