If you are running ESXi on an Apple Mac Mini and it is installed on a USB key, you probably have noticed that the Mac Mini tries to boot from disk by default and instead of using the USB device. This means when you reboot your ESXi host each time, you will need to hold down the "ALT/OPTION" key which will present you with a boot menu to select the device you wish to boot from.

This can be quite annoying if you have a headless setup for your Mac Mini and you just want it to automatically boot off of the right device containing your ESXi installation. To fix this, you can configure the default boot device which can be done by first selecting the device you wish to boot off of as shown in the screenshot above. Next, hold down on the "CONTROL" key which will turn the straight arrow into circular arrow icon as shown in the screenshot below.

Now you just need to either hit enter or if you have a mouse, click on the circular arrow icon and this will configure the default boot device the Apple Mac Mini will use going forward. It is that simple! If you want to boot off of another device after configuring the default boot device, you can still do so by holding down "ALT/OPTION" key while the Mac Mini is still booting up.

Credit goes to this site for solution. 

10 thoughts on “Configure Apple Mac Mini to Default Boot ESXi

  1. I am surprised you can’t do this by booting into OS X one time to set the startup disk in the system preferences. If you don’t want OS X on the drive, you may even be able to do this setup from the DVD.

    • @Anonymous,

      You might be able to, I’ve not tested that. Though if you replaced the drives or don’t want to go through the trouble of just loading up OSX, this might be a better/quicker alternative, especially as you’re in the process of finishing up the ESXi installation on the Mini

  2. Thanks much for sharing! I’m upgrading to 5.5 finally; I didn’t have my apple keyboard.. didn’t think to use ALT. Gah – I just hit the purple screen time head over to your other post.

  3. I’m having a similar issue. I’ve installed ESXi5.5 from the stock .iso burned on DVD from the Apple USB-DVD-player. Everything went ok (adding the kernelboot option). After installation of ESXi on the harddrive of the mac mini, it is rebooted and then cannot find a “Bootable device” (the DVD is ejected in the reboot process) on the harddrive to startup from. Haven’t tried the ALT/OPTION combo yet ot see if there actually is a bootable ESXi partition (should be?).

  4. I currently have a Mac Mini 2011 with dual drive 500gb (and 256GB SSD empty). I’ve OSx currently on 500GB Non-SSD hard drive, and leaving the secondary SSD spare, and unused.
    My plan was to install the ESXi5.x on the second hard drive (SSD), and allowing me to dual boot between MAC OSX, and ESXi. Is this possible? Any blog post on the same?

  5. Thanks William, one more Q. So installing ESXi on second hard drive (SSD), will it over write first hard drive (HDD, MAC OSX) boot sector or any changes which I should be aware off? (Just to make sure that if I remove second hard drive, i will still be able to boot from 1st hard drive).
    Further, from your article, you had mentioned ESXi 5.5 does boot or support MacMini 5,2 is that true? (without any add.. drivers)
    Thanks in advance

  6. How can i change the boot back to Mac OsX? I am not using Esxi anymore and want to boot by default to Mac?

Thanks for the comment!