Target Disk Mode

All the ways you can start up your Mac

We’ve talked quite a lot about Recovery OS, an underestimated feature of OS X that makes it easier to troubleshoot your Mac even if it refuses to start up properly.

But as you’ll see for yourself in this post, Recovery OS is but one of the more than dozen different ways to start up your computer, aside from OS X’s regular startup mode. In this tutorial, we’ll list all the ways you can start up your Mac and detail each one.

19 useful Mac startup key combinations you should familiarize yourself with

Most of the time, your Mac just works—until it refuses to start up properly due to an unforeseen system error, a misbehaving app, a broken system component and what not. Beyond system errors, different people have different needs when it comes to starting up their computer.

For example, you could be a pro user who dual boots between OS X and Windows on a daily basis. Others might be wondering about booting a Mac from a disk other than their designated startup disk. Or perhaps you’re looking to isolate the cause of a software issue in OS X’s Safe Mode or boot straight into Recovery OS as the last option?

For those of you who have wondered about the many ways you can start up your Mac, here’s a quick list of the keyboard shortcuts you can invoke to access handy OS X features which are only available at boot time.

How to boot your Mac in Target Disk Mode

Our tutorial series dealing with the many ways you can start up your Mac continues with Target Disk Mode, a feature Apple conceived to allow your Mac to act as an external disk for another Mac.

It’s not surprising that the vast majority of average Mac owners are totally oblivious to the existence of Target Disk Mode, and who could blame them? After all, Target Disk Mode isn’t exactly front and center on OS X.

In this tutorial, you’re going to be taught how to activate Target Disk Mode through the System Preferences application, or enter it directly at boot time with a simple keystroke. I’m also going to explain in layman’s terms why, when and how Target Disk Mode should be used.