BriCode Thoughts from Brian Holt


Mac OS X boots to “No bootable device — insert boot disk and press any key”

Mac OS X - Snow Leopard

Update 10/21/2012: This problems seem to be still pretty common. This page gets several hundred page views a day. As such, some of the comments are extremely useful to look at, particularly one of the first ones from Steve. Best of luck! Ask questions in the comments and I'll try to be of help.

This is a pretty scary problem if you run into it. According to the guy at the Apple Store, it's a pretty rare one too. Being such a rare problem, it's not very well documented. It just showed up one time when I rebooted the computer. More or less, when your computer restarts, it's goes to white screen for a while and then it goes to a black screen with the white text "No bootable device -- insert boot disk and press any key" and hangs there. Restart the computer and it does the same thing. Needless to say, when you need to take an online quiz before midnight, you start freaking out.

First of all, you will only have this problem if you had BootCamp running another OS on your computer at some point. If you haven't, then this is not your problem. The issue is that BootCamp did not unpartition your Windows disk space correctly when you removed it. It happened to me because I had Windows 7 on my computer via Boot Camp, but then I uninstalled it and then put it on via Parallels (good choice, by the way.)

After some consulting with my owners' manual that night of the quiz, I found if you hold option (the alt key) during the white screen, it will allow you to select your Mac OS X partition and start your computer as per normal. You can actually keep doing this every time you start up if you prefer. I actually thought it would kind of be a nice security feature because if your computer restarted, no one would be able to figure out how to start your computer.

As I imagine most of you want to fix it, here's how you do it. Open Boot Camp Assistant from Applications/Utilities. Going through Boot Camp Assistant, create another 5 GB partition as if you were going to install Windows again. After the partition is created, use Boot Camp Assistant and delete the partition. If you do it correctly, it should fix your problem.

Your alternative is just to go the Apple Genius Bar and let them do it. That's how I did it because I couldn't find anything on the Internet that showed me how to do it.

Comments (144) Trackbacks (0)
  1. You saved my life. Cheers mate :)

  2. This just happened to me today! I was worried that I had to reinstall the OS – and since I haven’t backed up my files for a while that would really suck!!

    Anyway, this tip did the trick for me – thank you so much!!

  3. Great job with this forum, it worked like a charm. Thank you very much!

  4. +1
    The June 11th post by Iain worked for me too! Yaay!

  5. Thank you very much, it worked and I am back in business.

  6. Thanks for that very valuable info

  7. Thank you very much, it worked and I am back. So good :-)

  8. you are the savior….thanks a lot!!! :)

  9. I had the same problem on boot. When I ran boot camp assistant, it asked if I wanted to remove windows 7. Perfect solution. Thanks.

  10. Thanks

    This saved me

  11. Thank you very much,its great to have poeple like you.Thanks again.

  12. Do you think you could upload a tutorial on youtube

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Cheers!!!

  14. Hi !
    I apologize for my english since it is only my second language. I tried your advice but when I hold the alt button, the only choice that appears is Windows ! I am scared, does that mean I don’t have OS anymore ? If I try to insert the original OS installation disc, there ain’t no place I can install it so I really am in a dead end, I don’t know what to do… I read a lot of threads on different forums but everybody seems to be able to have the choice between Windows or OS. What can I do ? :o S

  15. Thank you very much. It worked for me.
    It wasn’t the BootCamp that caused the problem for me, but Paragon NTFS. At its setup page I set “Set as startup”, then after restart I saw “No bootable device – insert boot disk and press any key” warning. But as I mentioned pressing “ALT” key saved my life, my works, etc.

  16. Thanks! Worked perfectly! Mine wasn’t boot camp related. Mine was the result of using clonezilla to reimage the hard drive. Same end result though. Thanks for this!!

  17. Also, I should note that going to system preferences-> startup disk and selecting my hard drive fixed it for me

  18. thaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks!!!!!
    you saved my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    thanks thanks thanks!!

  19. Oh man, thanks so much. I was scared shitless :(

  20. Superb tip!
    Panic over

  21. When you say restart are you just holding power button tip it shuts off? Bc I’ve done this a few times holding down option key and it hasn’t allowed me to choose my start up. I could really use some help. Thank you.

  22. Thanks for the tip it work good but at the screen i see
    Macintosh HD and Recovery so I click on Macintosh HD
    It work like a champ thanks I will take it to genius to
    Fix permanent so that I will not have to press Alt on
    The white screen all the time.

  23. Thanks a lot!!!

  24. Wow, genius dude! I actually had bootcamp installed on my previous drive and after I put in a brand new solid state drive with nothing on it & wanted to install a new version of Leopard/Windows I got the dreaded “no bootable device” prmompt. So it seems that it’s not just uninstalling Windows from your old drive that’ll cause the problem but also putting in a brand new drive with nothing on it. Thank YOU!

  25. Happened to me while connected to a seagate external drive. Alt worked. Thanks.

  26. Brilliant advise.worked a treat the hold option whilst on white screen.think I will leave on sleep for the mean time. Hello

  27. Hi,

    Thank You!

    As for Roland, I have installed recently Paragon (NTFS).

    I thought it was due to my iphone being connected during the backup. :-) )

  28. I had this problem so I called Apple Support and did not have a clue except to direct me to Microsoft – they had even less idea. I have only had my Mac for a week so this was a steep jump up the learning curve. Thank you so much.

  29. You are a genius! Thanks a lot

  30. Thanks so much mate .. You really saved me !

  31. All of the above ! Lord bless you!

  32. I wasn’t using boot camp nor was I / have I installed Windows on my Mac but I just had the same problem and I tried the proposed solution of holding down the option button and it enabled me to properly reboot.

  33. Lifesaver, cheers mate

  34. Just thank you so so much . You saved my life . Before i even know it , i thought i was gonna cry infront of my mac .

  35. thanksssssssssssss! a million!!!

  36. An alternative to re-installing the boot camp partition and deleting is to edit your start up disk.
    Just reselect Mac is and save settings, reboot and done.

  37. Something I found out when when this happens.
    When I held down the alt button nothing would happen, I was using a full sized USB powered apple keyboard.
    I switched over to the small wireless keyboard and hey presto holding down alt worked.
    I have a 2012 apple iMac 27″

  38. You make it easy as a piece of cake man! you saved me, thanksss

  39. Thanks mate tip works perfectly.

  40. Hi,
    I have a similar problem except that I plugged in a USB keyboard, never plugged to the iMac before, once I got the message to insert boot dis and press any key. So I cannot hit any key. What can I do?

  41. Thank you, I was mortified when this happened to me and when I googled and got your full explanation and resolve on the matter I was able to mend the problem.

    Many thanks much appreciated

  42. Thank you very much. Best solution of the web!!

  43. When I start my mac I am getting white screen for sometime and then a black screen with No Bootable device …etc error.

    previously windows was installed in my mac but one day my mac suddenly stopped and not responding so I tried to hold Command + R and started recovery but it was asking me to format my hd..then I went to partition and formated my windows partition , mac partition and small partition of boot camp as well…

    now if I press Command + R..then I am getting world icon for internet was taking 2 hours approx but once it is. completed I al getting only white screen nothing else . Previously I was getting disk Utility after this process

    So how can I reinstall Mac OS in my mac ?

    I have also tried it by holding only.option key but with this I can see a combo box with diffrent WiFi connection and one world icon for internet recovery having one aero below it.

    Please help me to get out of this problem. I will ne Dr gonna buy Mac again.

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