How to start up your M1 Mac from an external drive

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Apple’s comparatively new M1 Macs that depend on Apple silicon have quite a lot of usability variations from earlier Intel0based Macs. One distinction that’s tripped some readers up is methods to begin up or boot the M1 Mac from an exterior drive. Intel Macs typically make this straightforward.

You would possibly wish to use a bootable exterior drive to have a higher-capacity SSD than is obtainable or inexpensive by way of Apple’s pricing. Otherwise you need one for backup in case one thing goes very pear formed along with your M1 Mac.

Testing signifies that the next are required to start out up from an exterior quantity:

  • A Thunderbolt 3 drive. That’s not only one that makes use of the USB-C connector, however is a local USB 3.1 or 3.2 drive. Nor can you employ a Sort A adapter for a USB 3.0 or later drive. Success seems to require a native Thunderbolt 3 drive.

  • Erasing the drive fully, then formatting it as APFS.

  • Acquiring a Large Sur installer, after which putting in Large Sur out of your M1 Mac immediately onto the exterior drive.

Let’s broaden on every level.

Thunderbolt 3 drive

Most cheap exterior drives use a taste of USB 3 to attach over USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 is mostly reserved for high-performance drives and arrays of drives used for graphics and video functions. Nonetheless, One World Computing provides a particular line of lower-cost, bus-powered Thunderbolt 3 SSDs. (Some folks have apparently been capable of get a USB 3 drive to work for this, however nobody has narrowed down which of them or why, so it’s unimaginable to advocate it as a plan of action.)

With an SSD inside, OWC fees $199 for 480GB and $299.75 for 1TB. You should buy increased capacities, or simply get its Envoy Categorical enclosure, which runs $79, to which you’ll be able to add any SSD that’s designed for the 2280 M.2 NVMe commonplace. (That appears like a mouthful, however you may search on that to seek out appropriate SSDs.) OWC says it helps present capacities as much as 4TB, and is designed to assist future increased capacities, too. I opted to purchase a comparatively cheap 500GB SSD for now (about $75) so I may have a bootable possibility.

Erase and format as APFS

To make use of Large Sur, the drive needs to be formatted as APFS. However studies point out that you could be not have the ability to simply change the formatting on an current drive, as invisible partitions used for functions associated to booting from an Intel drive from a earlier macOS set up on the drive may trigger points. To keep away from that, choose the drive in Disk Utility, click on Erase, and comply with prompts to create a single APFS container. This could wipe out any conflicting information buildings.

Acquire the Large Sur installer

Since it’s important to be operating Large Sur on an M1 Mac, you need to have the ability to obtain the installer immediately from the Mac App Retailer by way of this hyperlink. Large Sur 11.1 or later is required.


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