No Startup Disk on Mac? Here's What to Do

Jerome Peng
Last updated: Apr 12, 2024

When you attempt to reinstall macOS and find there is no startup disk, it can be frustrating. In this guide, we will first explain how to select a startup disk on your Mac, and then discuss what to do if there is no startup disk on your Mac.

You might encounter issues where your Mac doesn't show a startup disk. This problem can make it challenging to use your Mac as intended. Fortunately, there are solutions. This article provides detailed steps to address and resolve the issue of having no startup disk on your Mac.

Let's dive in.

No Startup Disk on Mac? Here's What to Do

How to Choose a Startup Disk on Your Mac

Here are two methods to select a startup disk on your Mac. Make sure you're following the right steps.

Method 1: Select Startup Disk in Mac Recovery Mode

There are two main ways to choose a startup disk on your Mac. Let's start with using the keyboard to display the startup disk.

  1. Click the Apple menu and select "Shut Down".
  2. Press the power button and hold down the "Option" key on a Mac keyboard or the "Alt" key on an external keyboard.
  3. When the Startup Manager screen appears, release the key.
  4. Select the disk you want to use for startup and press the "Return" key to boot.

Method 2: Choose Startup Disk on Mac via System Settings

The other method is using System Settings (on macOS Ventura and later) or System Preferences (on macOS Monterey and earlier) to select the startup disk on your Mac.

  1. Open the System Settings app on your Mac.
  2. Click General > Startup Disk.
  3. Choose your startup disk if you have more than one, then click the Restart button.
Choose Your Startup Disk on Mac

What to Do If Your Mac Doesn't Show a Startup Disk

If you encounter the issue where your Mac doesn't show a startup disk, try these solutions:

Solution 1: Reset the NVRAM

NVRAM holds information even when your Mac is powered off. Resetting NVRAM may help your Mac access more smoothly.

Here's how to reset the NVRAM on your Mac:

  1. Turn on your Mac.
  2. Immediately press and hold the Option + Command + R + P keys.
  3. Release the keys when you hear the second startup sound or see the Apple logo.
  4. This will reset the NVRAM and may resolve the problem.
If you're using a M1/M2/M3 Mac, simply restart your Mac to reset the NVRAM.

Solution 2: Repair Your Startup Disk in Mac Recovery Mode

If your MacBook displays a flashing question mark and becomes unusable, the startup disk might not be visible or selectable. In such cases, you can repair the startup disk in macOS Recovery Mode. This may resolve disk issues and make the startup disk visible again.

How to boot your Mac in Recovery Mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Restart your Mac and immediately hold down the Command + R keys.
  3. Release the keys when the Apple logo appears.
macOS Recovery Mode

If you're using an Apple-silicon Mac, hold down the "Power" button until the "Loading Startup Options" message appears on your screen. Click Options > Continue to enter into Mac recovery mode.

How to repair your startup disk:

  1. Launch Disk Utility from the Recovery Mode screen on your Mac.
  2. Select "View" > "Show All Devices."
  3. Choose the startup disk, click the "First Aid" button, and choose "Run" to begin the repair process.

Solution 3: Change to a Different Startup Disk

If the above solutions don't fix the "no startup disk" issue on your Mac, follow the steps below to select a different startup disk.

  1. Open the "System Settings" or "System Preferences" app on your Mac.
  2. Click "General" > "Startup Disk", choose your disk, and restart your Mac.

Bonus Tip: What to Do If Your Mac Doesn't Have Enough Storage Space

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We hope these solutions have helped you resolve the "no startup disk" issue on your Mac. If you need more storage space on your Mac, give BuhoCleaner a try. Let us know how these solutions worked for you!

Jerome is a passionate enthusiast of all things Apple. He is expertise in crafting tech-related articles, with a portfolio of more than 100 articles covering various Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.