How to Change Default Boot OS on a Mac

How to Change Default Boot OS on a MacLet’s say you use Boot Camp or some other method for creating two independent instances of OS X on a single drive. What do you do if you want to change the default instance so you don’t have to select the drive each time you reboot your machine? The answer can be as simple as accessing the right preference pane.

One of the coolest things about owning as Mac is the fact that you can live in OS X, Windows, or Linux as a native OS. Boot Camp makes it possible to experience Windows and add/remove it from a drive rather quickly. Unfortunately, setting Windows as a primary operating system is often done for you and can be annoying when you first open your laptop and forget to hold down the option key to select OS X.

You may have two instances of OS X on your drive: one running the current version of the OS and the other running an earlier version that works with some legacy software you need for work. This happens all the time, and there is a way to set which OS you want to load by default.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Open System Preferences from the dock or by hitting command+space to initiate a search.
  • From the main preferences screen, navigate to System, then Startup Disk.
  • If the lock is closed, click it and enter your password to open it.
  • Choose which disk you’d like to use as a default when booting up your computer.
  • Reset your machine and it should boot to that drive.

You can still go back to your original OS by holding the option key while your computer is booting up. From that menu, you can select from which disk you wish to boot (including the recovery drive, which you should only use if you intend to reinstall OS X or format the drive).

Do you have any questions or tips for OS X? Please let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer or share them in a future post.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Panos

    hey there, just what I needed, although I’ve got a question for you : Is it possible to change the trackpad properties of the bootcamp menu? For example, when I’m holding the option button and get to select the startup disk, I can only hard click and my cursor moves like shit…Do you know anything about that? cheers :)