MacBook Startup Disk

MacBook Startup Disk Missing Causes and Solutions

While hardware issues on MacBook are rare, they do occur and hamper the smooth functioning of the service. When the error is associated with the startup disk, it is even more problematic. Most of the time, your MacBook Startup Disk won’t boot, and you cannot do anything on the device.

The article explains efficient ways to fix MacBook startup disk missing errors. After selecting the issue, you will also require recovering your files. Let’s start with a brief introduction to the startup disks.

What Is a Startup Disk on Mac?

The startup disk is where your Mac stores things like macOS, associated system files, and applications. Without a startup disk, your Mac won’t be able to start up and run, as it is the system’s core. 

When you buy a Mac, it is powered by an internal solid-state drive (SSD) which is a faster medium of storing data. With no moving parts, the disk reads and writes data efficiently to the industry. You can still experience failure with these robust and reliable hard drives. 

When these drives stop working due to an operational or technical glitch, you have no startup disk available on Mac. When you experience a MacBook startup disk missing error, there are a few signs that you see on the computer screen. 

If you see a circle with a line through it, it indicates that your computer contains the operating system, but it’s not usable by the Mac. There might be an issue with disk permissions. In such cases, you must learn¬†how to change hard drive from read only¬†mode.

If you see a question mark, it indicates no startup disk is available on your computer. The question mark sign also denotes that the startup disk doesn’t contain macOS. It means the operating system might have corrupted due to an error in the code preventing it from working correctly. 

This can also be due to loose connections or other hardware-related issues. So, before you make any considerable investment, identify the reason preventing the startup disk from working usually. 

Run First Aid in Disk Utility

First Aid is a built-in macOS feature that enables users to identify and repair disk errors. More often, running First Aid on a Mac drive fixes any boot issues. The process differs on Apple Silicon and Intel-based Macs, so follow the steps carefully. 

On Apple Silicon Macs, turn them on and then press and hold down the power button. Wait for the startup options to appear. Click the Options and tap Continue to enter the Recovery Mode. 

On Intel-based Macs, turn on the Mac and press and hold down Command + R keys until the Apple logo appears. Pressing these keys will enable you to start your computer in Recovery Mode. 

In the Recovery Mode, select Disk Utility and click Continue to get access to the First Aid window. Wait for the First Aid process to complete and click on Done. Next, turn off the computer by clicking on the Apple logo and tapping Shut Down. 

Once the device shuts down properly, please turn it on and allow it to boot normally. Now, wait to see if your computer still displays a startup disk error.   


The System Management Controller (SMC) controls some significant hardware components on your Mac. These components include settings and functionality related to power, fans, battery, and similar features. You can reset SMC on Intel-based Macs to resume the device’s proper functioning. 

MacBook Startup Disk

Press the Control + Option + Shift keys on your Mac for a few seconds, and then hold down the power button. Now release all four keys slowly, wait for a few seconds and press the power button to turn on your Mac. If nothing happens, you should reinstall macOS. 

Similarly, Non-Volatile Random Access Memory (NVRAM) is a small memory unit Mac uses to store specific system-specific settings. It allows the computer to use these settings quickly for better performance. 

The memory stores things related to sound, brightness, display, time zone, startup disk selection, and more. Resetting NVRAM can allow the system to strip anything preventing any component from working usually. This may help you resume the startup disk function as usual. 

On the other hand, the PRAM or Parameter Random Access Memory works similarly to NVRAM. The steps to reset both NVRAM and PRAM are the same. To reset the NVRAM and PRAM on your Mac, press the power button and immediately press the Option + Command + P + R keys for at least 20 seconds. 

Wait for your Mac to boot correctly. You will then see the Home Screen. You can reset the non-volatile and parameter memories first. You can reset the SMC later if that doesn’t help fix the problem.

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