Make an Intel Mac Boot Directly to Startup Manager

Feb 26, 2021 - 10 Comments

Mac Terminal icon

If you have an Intel Mac, you can make it boot directly into the boot disk options startup manager by issuing an nvram terminal command. This could be helpful for advanced users in particular whether they’re troubleshooting, have dual boot situations with multiple versions of macOS, macOS and Windows 10 in Boot Camp, macOS and Linux, for accessing a USB boot drive, a Time Machine restore disk, or myriad other situations where you’d want to boot a Mac directly into the startup manager.

Whether or not this is easier or faster than booting an Intel Mac from an external drive by holding down the Option key on system start and choosing the external volume to boot the Mac from is entirely up to you and your use case. But perhaps the Option/alt key isn’t working for some reason on a Mac, or you want to explore the boot options, or you can’t hold down the key on boot for some reason.

Booting Intel Mac Directly to Startup Disk Manager

As with all command line activity, start by opening the Terminal application, then issue the following command:

sudo nvram manufacturing-enter-picker=true

Because the command is prefixed with sudo you’ll have to enter the admin password.

Then it’s just a matter of restarting the Mac, or turning an off Mac back on again, where you’ll go directly to the boot manager.

If you executed this command at some point and aren’t sure if it’s enabled or not, you can always view and clear the nvram contents via command line too. And of course another way to clear NVRAM is to reset NVRAM / PRAM on an Intel Mac.

Similarly, you can enable Safe Boot Mode for Mac via the command line as well.

Remember this is specific to Intel Mac models, as the Apple Silicon Mac models do not have the same firmware options. If you want to explore more nvram commands and options, check out our archives on the subject.

This tip was found via Twitter from @martinnobel_, where the embedded video below shows what happens after the command has been executed.

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

10 Comments

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  1. Rogerio Pekny says:

    I did the command line procedure (sudo nvram manufacturing-enter-picker=true) and when it restarted, it enters the screen that asks for the firmware password, which I don’t have.
    Is there a way to reverse the process or I need to go to an apple store?
    My model is a MBP 2015 – A1502

    • p says:

      Reset the PRAM/NVRAM on the Mac and it will clear out any of the commands

      Press and hold the Command, Option, P, and R keys right as you turn the Mac on to reset PRAM (intel and PPC only)

      Otherwise you may need to disable the firmware password, which can be done through Recovery mode on the Mac. It must have been enabled at some point.

      • Rogério Pekny says:

        Dear

        I did the PRAM / NVRAM process and nothing has changed.
        Please, how can I disable the firmware password via recovery mode on Mac if I can’t access the SSD because I don’t have the firmware password?
        Please help me with a “recipe”.

        • Paul says:

          Typically the PRAM reset trick only works with Macs that have removable RAM, and you have to remove the a memory module first and then reset PRAM (and nowadays most Macs don’t have user upgradeable RAM so this is not possible).

          How did the firmware password get set? If you set it yourself, maybe you chose the same password as the admin account?

          Disabling the firmware password via Recovery Mode works but you’d still need to have enter the firmware password to disable it.

          Did you forget the firmware password? If so Apple may have to reset it with proof of purchase. You can read more about the process of dealing with a forgotten firmware password here;

          https://osxdaily.com/2015/01/28/forgot-mac-firmware-password-what-now/

          • Rogério Pekny says:

            Dear

            Why did the mac stay that way, asking for firmware password?
            I have not read any other similar report.
            So, as you don’t have the solution, the loss is mine.
            I learned in the worst way that unknown commands should not be used.

          • Paul says:

            I am genuinely perplexed by this, the firmware password must be enabled specifically through the firmware password tool in Recovery Mode, so it shouldn’t turn itself on. Do you have any additional info?

      • Rogério Pekny says:

        Dear

        I did this procedure to reset the PRAM memory and nothing has changed.
        How can I disable the firmware password if I don’t have access?
        Please, help me.

  2. Fernando Gonçalves says:

    Sir/Madame,

    Here’s a suggestion for a future article:

    • Scanners and scanning software that work on Mac os Big Sur

    Since I purchased a new Mac (Mac OS BigSur 11.2.1) I am NOT able to use my scanner (HP ScanJet G3110). When I attempted to install the software that cam with the scanner, the iMac [as expected!] warns me not do do it. I contacted Apple, but the “geniuses” that answered me could not help.

    Since then, I looked n line for similar problems with Big Sur and scanner and I found lots of user with the same problem.

    Thanks!

  3. Seit says:

    “Then it’s just a matter of restarting the Mac, or turning an off Mac back on again, where you’ll go directly to the boot manager”?

    Who’s proofreading your copy?

    • Paul says:

      You are apparently, LOL!

      What’s the difficulty you are having? Were you unable to use the command to boot your Mac into the startup manager?

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