Special Keys that Can Come in Handy When Re-Booting Your Mac

By Mark L. Chambers

A number of keys have special powers over your MacBook. No joke! These keys affect how your road warrior starts up, and they can really come in handy while troubleshooting.

Using Safe Boot mode

You can use Safe Boot mode to force Mavericks to run a directory check of your boot drive and disable any login items that might be interfering with your system. Follow these steps:

  1. Use the Shut Down menu item from the Apple menu to completely turn off your laptop.

  2. Press the Power button to restart the computer.

  3. Immediately after you hear the start-up tone, press and hold down the Shift key (and keep holding it down until you see the spinning progress indicator).

  4. After Mavericks completely boots, you’re in Safe Boot mode, and you can check the operation of your MacBook using Disk Utility (or a commercial utility application.)

  5. Once you’re ready to return to normal operation, restart your MacBook again (this time without pressing the Shift key).

Start-up keys

Here’s the lowdown on start-up keys. Hold down the indicated key either when you push the Power button or immediately after the screen goes blank during a restart. (The Shift key shortcut to Safe Mode is the exception; you should press it and hold it down after you hear the start-up tone.)

Key Effect on Your MacBook
C Boots from the CD or DVD that’s loaded in your optical
drive (if you have one)
Media Eject Ejects the CD or DVD in your optical drive (if you have
one)
Option Displays a system boot menu, allowing you to choose any
bootable operating system on your laptop
Shift Boots in Safe Mode
T Starts your MacBook in Target Disk mode (using your Thunderbolt
or FireWire port)
⌘+V Shows OS X Console messages
⌘+R Boots from the Mavericks Recovery HD volume
⌘+S Starts your Mac in Single User mode
⌘+Option+P+R Resets Parameter RAM (PRAM)

Some of the keys and combinations in Table 20-1 might never be necessary for your machine, but an Apple technician might instruct you to use them.