Restart Mac From Bootable Drive

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Apple’s relatively new M1 Macs that rely on Apple silicon have a number of usability differences from previous Intel-based Macs. One difference that’s tripped some readers up is how to start up or boot the M1 Mac from an external drive. Intel Macs generally make this easy.

This article all talk about how to startup your Mac from bootablt media in several ways. Restart in OS X from Boot Camp If you have started up your Mac in Windows using Boot Camp, you can use the Boot Camp system tray to switch your startup disk default back to OS X. In Windows, click the Boot Camp icon in the system tray. From the menu that appears, choose Restart in OS X.

You might want to use a bootable external drive to have a higher-capacity SSD than is offered or affordable via Apple’s pricing. Or you want one for backup in case something goes very pear shaped with your M1 Mac.

Testing indicates that the following are required to start up from an external volume:

  • A Thunderbolt 3 drive. That’s not just one that uses the USB-C connector, but is a native USB 3.1 or 3.2 drive. Nor can you use a Type A adapter for a USB 3.0 or later drive. Success appears to require a native Thunderbolt 3 drive.

  • Erasing the drive completely, then formatting it as APFS.

  • Obtaining a Big Sur installer, and then installing Big Sur from your M1 Mac directly onto the external drive. (This will allow only an M1 Mac to boot from the drive; Intel Macs will be unable to start up from your M1-prepared external drive.)

Let’s expand on each point.

Thunderbolt 3 drive

Most inexpensive external drives use a flavor of USB 3 to connect over USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 is generally reserved for high-performance drives and arrays of drives used for graphics and video purposes. However, One World Computing offers a specific line of lower-cost, bus-powered Thunderbolt 3 SSDs. (Some people have apparently been able to get a USB 3 drive to work for this, but no one has narrowed down which ones or why, so it’s impossible to recommend it as a course of action.)

Restart Mac From Bootable Driver

With an SSD inside, OWC charges $199 for 480GB and $299.75 for 1TB. You can purchase higher capacities, or just get its Envoy Express enclosure, which runs $79, to which you can add any SSD that’s designed for the 2280 M.2 NVMe standard. (That sounds like a mouthful, but you can search on that to find compatible SSDs.) OWC says it supports current capacities up to 4TB, and is designed to support future higher capacities, too. I opted to buy a relatively inexpensive 500GB SSD for now (about $75) so I could have a bootable option.

Erase and format as APFS

To use Big Sur, the drive has to be formatted as APFS. But reports indicate that you may not be able to just change the formatting on an existing drive, as invisible partitions used for purposes related to booting from an Intel drive from a previous macOS installation on the drive could cause issues. To avoid that, select the drive in Disk Utility, click Erase, and follow prompts to create a single APFS container. This should wipe out any conflicting data structures.

Obtain the Big Sur installer

Since you have to be running Big Sur on an M1 Mac, you should be able to download the installer directly from the Mac App Store via this link. Big Sur 11.1 or later is required.

Install Big Sur onto the external drive

Launch the Big Sur installer, and select the external drive as the target. Follow the prompts and steps. When your Mac restarts, it will boot from the external drive to complete the installation.

If you want to make this drive a bootable clone, Bombich Software, makers of Carbon Copy Cloner, recommends you first clone your data volume (which its software can do), and then install Big Sur after that.

Restart from your internal drive or switch between

To get back to your internal drive as the startup volume, you can open the Startup Disk preference pane while macOS is running on the external drive and select the internal drive. Then click Restart.

You’ll have to unmount the external drive after the restart is complete, and some people have reported that Big Sur says one of its partitions remains in use. (Catalina and Big Sur invisibly divide a macOS into a volume containing system files and a volume with your user data; the data volume may not unmount correctly.) You might prefer to shut down at that point, unplug the external drive, and start up again.

You can also use recovery mode to change the startup disk. This is a bit more complicated with an M1 Mac than an Intel one, where you could simply hold down the Option key while restarting and select a drive (unless you had turned on certain security settings, in which case you’d need to use recovery mode to disable them).

Here’s how you change the startup drive from recovery mode with an M1 Mac:

  1. If macOS is running, you need to shut down. A restart doesn’t work. Select  > Shut Down.

  2. When you see your Mac has powered down, hold down the power button until you see a prompt that says “Loading startup options.”

  3. When the Options icon appears, you will also see a list of volumes next to it that you can select. Select the volume that you want to start up from.

  4. Click Continue and the Mac restarts from that volume.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Gerald.

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By Vivian Updated to Home > Howto on April 8th, 2021

Your MacBook won't turn on for different reasons like MacBook Pro black screen. Then, you can't open important documents, photos, files, videos, etc. Or at least, you can't access them as easily as before.

In this situation, what worries you most is that if you can recover data from Mac/MacBook that won't turn on. So, rescuing data is a task that brooks no delay.

How to recover data from Mac that won't boot?

To get files off a Mac that won't turn on, you have several options.

Option 1: Easy way to recover data with iBoysoft Data Recovery

In this solution, you can run iBoysoft Data Recovery software in macOS recovery mode of the Mac that not turning on and recover data, don't need another Mac and a bootable external drive.

Watch our video to recover files from a Mac hard drive that won't boot now. This video shows a full and detailed guide to help you get files off an unbootable Mac.

Tutorial to rescue your files with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac:

  • Step 1: Start your Mac and then press Option + Command + R key combinations. You can release the key combinations until you see the spinning globe.
  • Step 2: Choose a network for your Mac. You need to make your Mac connected to the Internet all the time. You will see the spinning globe instead of the apple logo.
  • Step 3: Open Terminal from Utilities drop-down menu.
  • Step 4: Run the following command and it will launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac in macOS Recovery mode.

If the above command doesn't work, try solution 2 at: How to run iBoysoft Data Recovery in macOS recovery mode?

If you think the above steps are complicated, please watch our video mentioned above which can guide you step-by-step.

Restart Mac From Bootable Drive

Option 2: Restore Mac from Time Machine backup

Time Machine is a good utility to back up Mac. A better situation is that you have backed up the Mac before it crashes. A Time Machine backup can help you recover data from Mac like iMac hard drive though it won't turn on.

However, as the Mac won't turn on, you should reinstall macOS to make it bootable first. The macOS installation process will take a long time. Hence, using iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to rescue files is a quicker and more simple way.

  1. Step 1: When the Mac turns on after macOS reinstallation, you can connect the Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  2. Step 2: Open Migration Assistant. You can access it by the Utilities folder.
  3. Step 3: When you're asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option: From a Mac, Time Machine backup or startup disc. Then you can click Continue.
  4. Step 4: Select your Time Machine backup and then continue.
  5. Step 5: Select the files and click Continue to restore your files to the Mac.

This way might take hours if you have lots of data. And you also might fail to recover lost data as the process is complicated.

But what if you haven't backup your files before? Well, then you can't restore files from Time Machine backups. But at least, you can recover the system from Time Machine auto-backups if your system is macOS High Sierra and above.

  1. Step 1: Boot into macOS Recovery mode.

• How to Boot into & Use M1 Mac Recovery Mode

  1. Step 2: Select Restore from Time Machine in macOS Utilities.
  2. Step 3: Select an APFS snapshot in Time Machine backups and then continue.
  3. Step 4: Restore your system to a previous point, which could result in data loss.

Option 3: Back up files by copying your Mac hard drive

Things will be more difficult if you don't have a data backup when Mac can't start up. Fortunately, you still can back up your files by creating a copy version.

There are many ways to do this. Namely, you can create a disk image from the startup disk. You can access and copy your files via Target Disk Mode. You can also copy files with Terminal command in macOS Recovery Mode.

Here takes disk image as an example.

  1. Step 1: Restart your Mac and immediately hold Command + R options. This will boot your Mac into macOS Recovery Mode.
  2. Step 2: Select Disk Utility in macOS Utilities.
  3. Step 3: Connect an external hard drive to your Mac. The hard drive should be empty and have a large capacity.
  4. Step 4: In Disk Utility, select the external hard drive. And then choose File at the top menu, click New Image, and then choose Image from [device name].
  5. Step 5: Enter a file name for the disk image, add tags if necessary, then choose the external hard drive to save it.
  6. Step 6: Choose an option from the format menu: read-only, compressed, read/write, or DVD/CD master.

However, if your Mac hard drive is damaged or corrupted, the image disk will be inaccessible and corrupted as well. At this time, only data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can help you recover data from MacBook that won't turn on.

Restart Mac From Bootable Drives

Option 4: Boot from an external hard drive and migrate files

When Mac can't boot up, you can also use these steps to back up your data to an external drive. This method asks for an empty external drive that has the same or larger size than your current startup disk.

Bootable Usb Mac

Restart Mac From Bootable Drive
  1. Step 1: You need to boot into macOS Recovery Mode to erase this external drive in Disk Utility. And then install macOS onto the external drive in macOS Utilities.
  2. Step 2: When the installation is finished, your Mac automatically restarts from the external bootable drive.
  3. Step 3: In Setup Assistant, you can choose the built-in startup disk as the source to migrate your data from. This will make a backup to the external drive.
  4. Step 4: When the migration is done, complete the steps of the setup assistant. After the desktop appears, confirm that your data is present on the external drive.

Then you can go ahead to reinstall macOS to the built-in startup drive. Later, you can restore files by Migrate Assistant application.

In some worse cases, your MacBook's startup disk won't show up in Disk Utility. Then you need to ask help from Apple support. But If you see the corrupted Mac hard drive in Disk Utility, you can try your luck with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

If you are fortunate enough, you have got files off the Mac hard drive that won't boot. Then, you can continue fixing the Mac not booting up issue.


Restart mac from bootable drive using

In this post, you have many ways to recover data from the MacBook that won't turn on. You can even try the iBoysoft data recovery software to fix the problem. But whether you choose to back up files or recover files, you should always choose it according to your conditions. So that you can recover files from the Mac that won't turn on easily and boot up the Mac again.

Restart Mac From Bootable Drive

• How to restore your Mac when Mac Recovery mode not working