How to Boot in Recovery Mode without Apple Keyboard

Mac has quirky keyboards policies. Until the operating system is fully loaded, the machine will not take inputs from Bluetooth keyboards, again unless it’s been cleared —meaning, Apple Keyboard. Now the most obvious solution is to use a wired keyboard. But if you are on a wireless keyboard via USB dongle, it might strike as odd why the keystrokes would not register. This is a short band-aid solution for users like myself.

  1. Wait until Apple logo appears on the screen.
  2. Before the loading bar appears, press the startup combinations.

Please note: if you are using Windows PC keyboard, connected via USB dongle, chances are your driver is sending pre-configured keys as-is, such as Windows key for CMD key, ALT key for Option. If you have a Mac keyboard, proceed with OPT key.

The issue is not getting enough attention possibly due to Apple selling more laptop than desktops. What this means for desktop Mac users is that you may want to hold on to your Apple Bluetooth Keyboard while at it. Mac does not recognize keystrokes from non-Apple Bluetooth device. At the time of writing, I could not find any other wireless keyboard with such a clearance, nor a detailed documentation on this bizarre behavior.

It seems while these keyboards do work on top of OS, it is simply not a “Mac Keyboard”, only “Mac compatible”. Mac EFIs have no issues with wired keyboards, including proprietary wireless keyboards with USB dongles, but not the Bluetooth. This does add a small portion of wireless keyboards to the drying supply of “Mac Keyboards” other than the Apple’s.

Unfortunately, these wireless keyboards with dongles will not work straight out of the box either, especially when the dongle needs to be powered up and reconnect back to the keyboard during the booting process. It appears pressing the combinations only after the Apple logo allows the Mac to register keystrokes properly. From my experience, I can guarantee this method works with Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard and Logitech MX Keys.

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