- To boot a MacBook Air M2 from a USB drive, you need to create a bootable USB drive using an Apple silicon Mac and a compatible macOS installer app.
- To boot from the USB drive, you need to press and hold the power button until you see the startup options screen, and then select the USB drive as the startup disk.
- After booting from the USB drive, you can install macOS, restore your data, use Disk Utility, use Safari, or quit the installer and restart your Mac normally.
If you have a MacBook Air with an M2 chip, you might want to boot it from a USB drive for various reasons, such as installing a different operating system, troubleshooting issues, or restoring your data from a backup. However, booting a Mac with Apple silicon from a USB drive is not as straightforward as it used to be on Intel-based Macs. In this article, I will explain how to create a bootable USB drive for your MacBook Air M2 and how to boot from it using macOS Recovery.
What You Need
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To boot your MacBook Air M2 from a USB drive, you will need the following:
- A USB drive with at least 16GB of storage space, formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS. You can use Disk Utility to format your USB drive.
- A macOS installer app for the version of macOS that you want to install on your USB drive. You can download the installer app from the App Store or from Apple’s website. Make sure the installer app is compatible with your MacBook Air M2.
- A Mac with Apple silicon that can run the macOS installer app. You will use this Mac to create the bootable USB drive.
How to Create Bootable USB Drive
To create a bootable USB drive for your MacBook Air M2, follow these steps:
- Connect the USB drive to your Mac with Apple silicon.
- Open Terminal, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
- Type or paste one of the following commands in Terminal, depending on which version of macOS you want to install on your USB drive. Replace MyVolume with the name of your USB drive.
- For macOS Sonoma:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sonoma.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
- For macOS Ventura:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Ventura.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
- For macOS Sonoma:
- Press Return to enter the command.
- When prompted, type your administrator password and press Return. Terminal does not show any characters as you type.
- When prompted, type Y to confirm that you want to erase the volume and press Return.
- Terminal shows the progress as the volume is erased and the installer files are copied. This may take several minutes.
- When Terminal says that it is done, the volume will have the same name as the installer app, such as Install macOS Sonoma. You can now quit Terminal and eject the USB drive.
How to Boot from USB Drive
To boot your MacBook Air M2 from a USB drive, follow these steps:
- Connect the USB drive to your MacBook Air M2.
- Turn off your MacBook Air M2 if it is on.
- Press and hold the power button until you see Loading startup options on the screen.
- Release the power button when you see the startup options screen, which shows your startup disks and a gear icon labeled Options.
- Select the USB drive that you want to boot from and click Continue.
- Your MacBook Air M2 will start up from the USB drive and launch the macOS installer app.
What You Can Do Next
Once you have booted your MacBook Air M2 from a USB drive, you can do any of the following:
- Install macOS on your internal storage device or another external storage device. Follow the onscreen instructions to select a destination disk and complete the installation process.
- Restore your data from a Time Machine backup. Choose Utilities > Restore From Time Machine Backup from the menu bar and follow the onscreen instructions to select a backup source and a destination disk.
- Use Disk Utility to repair or erase your internal storage device or another external storage device. Choose Utilities > Disk Utility from the menu bar and use the tools in Disk Utility to perform various disk operations.
- Use Safari to browse the web or get more information from Apple Support. Choose Utilities > Safari from the menu bar and use Safari as you normally would.
- Quit the macOS installer app and restart your MacBook Air M2 normally. Choose Apple menu > Restart from the menu bar and select your internal storage device as the startup disk.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions related to booting a MacBook Air M2 from a USB drive:
Question: Can I boot my MacBook Air M2 from any USB drive?
Answer: No, you can only boot your MacBook Air M2 from a USB drive that has been created using an Apple silicon Mac and a compatible macOS installer app.
Question: Can I boot my MacBook Air M2 from a Windows or Linux USB drive?
Answer: No, you cannot boot your MacBook Air M2 from a Windows or Linux USB drive, because these operating systems are not compatible with Apple silicon.
Question: Can I use Target Disk Mode to boot my MacBook Air M2 from another Mac’s internal storage device?
Answer: No, you cannot use Target Disk Mode to boot your MacBook Air M2 from another Mac’s internal storage device, because Target Disk Mode is not supported on Macs with Apple silicon.
Question: Can I use Startup Manager to choose a different startup disk for my MacBook Air M2?
Answer: No, you cannot use Startup Manager to choose a different startup disk for your MacBook Air M2, because Startup Manager is not available on Macs with Apple silicon. You have to use the startup options screen instead.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. The author and the publisher are not liable for any damages or losses that may result from following the instructions in this article. Always back up your data before performing any disk operations or installing any software. Always check the compatibility and security of any software or hardware that you use with your Mac. Always consult Apple Support or an authorized service provider if you encounter any problems with your Mac.