What to Do When Mac Doesn’t Boot from USB

Summary: In this blog, you’ll learn different troubleshooting methods if your Mac doesn’t boot from a USB drive. To salvage data from a crashed or non-booting Mac, download Stellar Data Recovery Professional to create a bootable USB drive.


Note: Create Recovery Drive feature is only available in Stellar Data Recovery Version 10 & earlier! The latest version has eliminated the need of any other Mac or external device. User can directly use Stellar Data Recovery through an activated link.

When you power on your MacBook Pro or Air, Mac mini, or iMac, the computer boots up automatically from the internal storage drive—say SSD, HDD, or Fusion Drive. But, sometimes, you need to boot your Mac from an external USB drive to perform a specialized task.

Purpose of Booting Your Mac from USB Drive

  • To upgrade macOS on multiple Mac devices
  • To reinstall or downgrade macOS
  • To fix a slow or non-performing Mac
  • To boot a crashed or non-booting Mac
  • To perform Mac hard drive recovery

How to Boot Your Mac from USB Drive?

Once the intent is clear, execute the following steps to boot your Mac from an external USB drive.

a) Connect a bootable USB drive to the MacBook Air/Pro, iMac, or Mac mini.

b) For Intel-based Mac, start or restart it, then press-hold the Option key until Startup Manager appears. Select the USB drive.

Press Hold the Option Key
Image: Press hold the Option key

c) For M1 Mac, turn it on by pressing and holding the Power button until you see loading startup options. Select the bootable external USB drive.

Start MacBook
Image: Start MacBook

d) Wait until your Mac boots from the external drive instead of the internal Macintosh HD.

If the above steps are performed correctly, your Mac should boot from the external USB drive.

What if Mac Doesn’t Boot from USB Drive?

Your Mac may not boot from the external USB drive due to several reasons.

  • Mac is not compatible with the macOS present in the USB drive
  • The USB drive is not connected properly
  • The USB drive is not detected
  • The USB drive is corrupt
  • The USB device is damaged
  • The USB drive booting is prohibited (Refer Solution #4)
  • The USB drive is non-bootable
  • The USB drive is not formatted properly

If you identify any of the above scenarios, read the following sections to learn how to fix the non-booting issue on an external USB drive.

Fix USB Drive Issues

When your Mac doesn’t boot from a bootable USB drive, you should perform the following fixes, then try the boot process once again.

  1. Check the compatibility of Mac with the latest macOS.
  2. Connect the USB drive snuggly to your Mac.
  3. Connect the drive to another USB port.
  4. From the USB drive’s Get Info window, deselect Ignore ownership on this volume checkbox.
  5. Format the USB drive using GUID Partition Table in the scheme option.
  6. Use the existing or a new USB drive, then use createinstallmedia to recreate the boot drive.
  7. Reset NVRAM, PRAM, and SMC in Intel-based Mac.
  8. Shut down M1 Mac, leave it off for 30 seconds, then turn it on.

Read More: Recover Data on Not Booting Mac

Salvage Mac Data Using Recovery USB Drive

In case of a crashed or unbootable Mac, use data recovery software to create a recovery USB flash drive. The steps to create a Recovery Drive are as follows.

a) Install, launch Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac on a working Mac.  

b) Connect a USB flash drive of at least 16 GB storage space on the Mac.

c) From the main screen, select Create Recovery Drive. Perform the onscreen instructions.

Click to Begin
Image: Click to begin

d) Once the recovery drive is created, connect it to the non-booting Mac.

Select Recovery Drive
Image: Select RecoveryDrive. Get set, go

e) Watch the video shared below or read how to make a Recovery Drive with Stellar Data Recovery.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac helps create a recovery drive, provided you activate it using the purchased license key. In case you haven’t activated it yet, activate it now.

Why should you use Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac?

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac allows you to create a bootable recovery medium that helps you salvage data from a non-booting or crashed Mac. It recovers files and folders that are deleted then emptied from Trash, recovers data from erased hard drive, and salvages data from any logical data loss scenarios. Moreover, the software is compatible with the latest macOS Ventura and works perfectly with legacy Mac operating systems.

No doubt you can look for near Mac services, but they would be pretty expensive. Instead, by using this DIY software, you can perform the best Mac data recovery task at the comfort of your home and at a reasonable rate. Plus, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the product.


We hope the blog helped you fix your ‘Mac not-booting from a USB drive’ problem. If none of the above troubleshooting methods work, simply download professional mac data recovery software to create a bootable USB recovery drive. And use the bootable drive to recover data from the non-booting Mac.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.