Boot a Mac from a CD / DVD

Apr 12, 2010 - 18 Comments

How to boot from a CD or DVD on a Mac

If your Mac has a SuperDrive or Disc drive, you can boot the Mac from any bootable DVD or CD by using a special keyboard shortcut. The bootable disc can be an OS X system restore disc, an OS X installation disc, or even a third party OS disc like Linux.

How to Boot a Mac from a CD / DVD Disc

Be sure the disc to boot from is actually bootable, most system restore and installation discs are. In order to boot your Mac from a disk in the CD / DVD drive, you’ll first want to insert disk into the drive, then you can either shut down the Mac, or reboot the Mac.

The critical part is next: on system boot hold down the C key as the Mac boots up. This tells the computer to load from the disc rather than from the internal hard drive.

Remember that booting from a CD or DVD is significantly slower than booting from a hard disk, so don’t worry if things are taking longer than usual to startup, it’s simply just slower to read from a spinning disc than the hard drive.

boot mac from cd dvd If you want to reinstall Mac OS X from a DVD reinstall disc or run Disk Utility from a disc on your main boot drive, you’ll need to do use this boot disc method. Of course, the CD or DVD must be bootable to begin with, whether that’s because it shipped with the Mac as a restore disc, or because you made your own boot DVD, either will work.

Something to keep in mind is that newer Macs don’t have SuperDrives built-in at all, and instead rely on Recovery partitions or Internet Recovery. Anything that shipped with OS X 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, will use one of these newer recovery methods, though they can continue to boot from a DVD if they have a SuperDrive or a DVD is attached through an external reader. Additionally, newer Mac models can boot from USB devices too, including external hard drives or USB flash drives.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. John says:

    Same issue here. Gets to the

    Select CD-ROM Boot Type :

    Won’t let me make a selection

  2. Wilson Oppong says:

    Mac is displayed with a blinking folder when I press C .

  3. Hayford says:

    how to boot from cd on m5138 pc bat i dont have apple keyboard.

  4. Shiva says:

    Hi, I have iMac.. And bootable DVD, when I use options key, it shows only recovery disk.. When I use c key, it goes into recovery options… Does not show any other partitions in start up menu….. What is the way to view boot options for DVD and USB…?

  5. Joseph says:

    I pressed held down the C key during startup, but nothing happened. It was just the usual start up..

    Help please

  6. asthula says:

    Hi! I have G5 Power Mac and it will not start hard drive. All I get is blank screen with apple sign in the middle. I have tried to reboot it from CD/DVD many times but in vain. I try starting with option key pressed . It shows logo of my HD, but when I press enter it shows me blank screen with apple again with no improvement. I use Mac OS X v 10.2.
    Any help will he greatly appreciated.

  7. Rodrigo says:

    I already checked that all the pieces are okay by holding D and now that I want to do the CD boot, it doesn’t react when I hold C. I doubt that it’s when I do it because I’ve tried several things.

  8. […] and CD’s will be visible through the aforementioned boot manager, you can also start the Mac directly to DVD or a connected disc by holding down the “D” key during restart after you hear the […]

  9. Edward Hooper says:

    I want to use CloneZilla to backup a MacBook Pro (Intel Core 2 Duo) but when I use the C key to boot from the CD-RW I get the following screen:


    Select CD-ROM Boot Type:

    And then no response from the keyboard. What’s happening here?

    (CloneZilla Live v1.2.12-67)

  10. far says:

    hit the c key on boot . it will load cd.

  11. bonnie jay says:

    I tried it with Disc Warrior and I held it for almost a full 10 minutes and it never booted. Could that mean the version of DW is not compatible or that it really takes that long?

    What should I do?

  12. Mohammad says:

    Thanks , it works with my Macbook Pro but only through software boot, not hardware boot.


  13. Rusty says:

    I have a older Power MAC G3 here at work. When one guy left he gave to another person here. Now she is gone and everything is password protected. Botting the OS from CD hasn’t prompted me for a password. Thanks for the shortcut. I am not a Apple guy

  14. Tom says:

    Sokoya – in that case, return the mac to the person you stole it from….

  15. Sokoya says:

    What if when I try to do this, it asks me for a password I forgot?

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