How Apple Boot Camp Works

By: Chris Pollette & Stephanie Crawford  | 

Switching Between Mac OS X and Windows

When you first boot, press "Option" during the Mac's white boot screen to select which partition to boot.
When you first boot, press "Option" during the Mac's white boot screen to select which partition to boot.

Once you've set up Boot Camp, you have three different ways to make the switch between partitions. Let's look at these based on their starting points.

If you're in Windows, you can switch to the macOS partition using the Boot Camp icon in the System Tray. Click the gray diamond-shaped icon and click "Restart in macOS" from the pop-up menu. Then, confirm your choice to reboot to macOS.


If you're in macOS, you can switch to the Windows partition using the Startup Disk utility within System Preferences. In the Startup Disk, choose the "Windows on BOOTCAMP" partition, and click "Restart." Then, confirm your choice to reboot to Windows.

If the Mac was powered off, you can choose which partition to boot before the Mac selects for you. To do this, press the Option key on the Mac while it's on the blank white boot screen. Within a couple of seconds, the Mac should present the two partitions to you on the screen. Use the arrow keys to select a partition, and press Enter to boot to it. This Option key feature is available either when booting from a powered-off state or if you're rebooting from Windows.

In November 2020, Apple announced it would begin selling Macintosh computers with Apple's own M1 chip, rather than using Intel's processors. As of this writing, you can't use Boot Camp to create a dual-boot M1 Mac, but software company Parallels released a version of its Desktop software that runs Windows 10 within MacOS. Unfortunately, regular versions of Windows won't run on Apple's new processor lines, and you have to use a version of Windows that runs on ARM-based processors like the M1. As a result, some Windows apps will not run on that version of the operating system.

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More Great Links
  • Apple. "Boot Camp Assistant User Guide." Apple, Inc. (July 31, 2021).
  • Apple. "Restart your Mac in macOS or Windows." Apple, Inc. March 24, 2020. (July 31, 2021).
  • Apple. "Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006." Apple, Inc. Jun. 6, 2005. (July 31, 2021)
  • Buchanan, Matt. "Cheetahs, Pumas and Tigers, Oh My: The Two-Minute OS X History Primer." Gizmodo. 2007. (July 31, 2021)
  • Hattersley, Lucy. "How to install & set up Linux on a Mac." Macworld UK. October 6, 2016. (July 31, 2021)
  • Marshall, Carrie. "You can now run Windows on M1 Macs, just in time for the new MacBook Pro at Apple's Event." T3. MSN News. April 16, 2021. (July 31, 2021)