Weird Startup System Picker issue returns almost 1 1/2 years after being solved...


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Back in February of last year, I had an issue with my Mac Pro tower (Mid-2010/Nehalem) where pressing the Option key at startup didn't bring up the system picker. After some suggestions from Cory, I found that replacing the battery solved my issue, even though I wasn't having any wonky date & time issues. Now, a year and a half later, the problem is back, and replacing the battery is not fixing it. Original thread here:

https://www.mac-help.com/threads/option-key-startup-doesnt-work-missing-hard-drive.227646/

In short, I have 2 systems I use on my Mac, Sierra and Snow Leopard. The Snow Leopard drive has a handful of old programs I use for business, and I only use that system to run those applications and accomplish a task, then return to Sierra for everything else. When switching systems, I restart holding the Option key, the screen goes gray but my drives are not displayed and I have to hit the power button to shutdown. When in Snow Leopard, my Sierra drive is not displayed in the Startup Disk preferences, so I have no way back to Sierra.

I also have a partition with Lion on it and it shows in Startup Disk preferences, but when in Lion or Snow Leopard, Sierra is not displayed in Startup preferences.

The Sierra drive is on the desktop and all my files are accessible, I just can't start up with it...

Disk Utility says all my drives are good, as does DriveDX, though it appears one of my storage drives is getting old and should be replaced soon. I tested the battery I pulled out at 3.06 volts, ie, still really new and charged.

One other item that I don't think is related, my graphics card failed (Radeon HD 5770) several months ago. The two Mini Display ports failed, killing my 2-monitor setup, and now I'm on one monitor in the DVI port. I can't remember when that happened and I don't think it is related, but just throwing that out there...

Soooo... any ideas?
 
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Back in February of last year, I had an issue with my Mac Pro tower (Mid-2010/Nehalem) where pressing the Option key at startup didn't bring up the system picker. After some suggestions from Cory, I found that replacing the battery solved my issue, even though I wasn't having any wonky date & time issues. Now, a year and a half later, the problem is back, and replacing the battery is not fixing it. Original thread here:

https://www.mac-help.com/threads/option-key-startup-doesnt-work-missing-hard-drive.227646/

In short, I have 2 systems I use on my Mac, Sierra and Snow Leopard. The Snow Leopard drive has a handful of old programs I use for business, and I only use that system to run those applications and accomplish a task, then return to Sierra for everything else. When switching systems, I restart holding the Option key, the screen goes gray but my drives are not displayed and I have to hit the power button to shutdown. When in Snow Leopard, my Sierra drive is not displayed in the Startup Disk preferences, so I have no way back to Sierra.

I also have a partition with Lion on it and it shows in Startup Disk preferences, but when in Lion or Snow Leopard, Sierra is not displayed in Startup preferences.

The Sierra drive is on the desktop and all my files are accessible, I just can't start up with it...

Disk Utility says all my drives are good, as does DriveDX, though it appears one of my storage drives is getting old and should be replaced soon. I tested the battery I pulled out at 3.06 volts, ie, still really new and charged.

One other item that I don't think is related, my graphics card failed (Radeon HD 5770) several months ago. The two Mini Display ports failed, killing my 2-monitor setup, and now I'm on one monitor in the DVI port. I can't remember when that happened and I don't think it is related, but just throwing that out there...

Soooo... any ideas?
Sounds like the Sierra system is damaged. Try reinstalling it. If you don’t have the Sierra installer file, you might be able to download it from here:


I believe the last version of Sierra was 10.12.6, and last security update was 2018-006. Yes, I still keep these files even though I don’t have the hardware that would run them. It’s good practice to have a copy of system installer files on you, including additional version and security updates.
 
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Welp, by physically removing the drive that contains my Snow Leopard and Lion systems, I was able to get back to Sierra. I reinstalled the Sierra system, restarted and held the Option key, but my screen remained gray and my drives did not appear in the System Picker (one of my storage drives also has Snow Leopard, though I have never started from it).

I set the Startup preferences to Sierra, reinstalled the Snow Leopard/Lion drive, and they both now appear in Startup preferences. However, restarting with the option key does not bring up any systems.

I suppose I could put the Snow Leopard/ Lion drive in an external case, use it when I need it, then unplug it to go back to Sierra, but I'd really like to know where my system picker went....
 
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Just wanted to clarify, the system picker doesn't work under Snow Leopard, Lion, or Sierra. Normally I would see all systems, including systems on my 8TB Time Machine drive. No drives appear at all when restarting with the Option key depressed, no matter what system, and it's not the keyboard...
 
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Just giving this a bump... no one has any ideas?

I'm not a programmer, but isn't this issue "below" the system? If the system picker doesn't load on startup, BEFORE I choose an OS, that means it isn't a problem with any of my operating systems, correct?
 
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Just giving this a bump... no one has any ideas?

I'm not a programmer, but isn't this issue "below" the system? If the system picker doesn't load on startup, BEFORE I choose an OS, that means it isn't a problem with any of my operating systems, correct?
Your “system picker” I take to mean holding down the Option key on startup, is part of the preboot process and should be independent of the macOS software. But have you tried selecting the boot drive from System Preferences -> Startup Disk?
 
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Yes. When in Sierra, I can see Lion and Snow Leopard drives in Startup preferences. When in Lion or Snow Leopard, Sierra is not displayed in Startup preferences, and holding the Option Key does not bring up the system picker. The screen goes gray, but the picker does not come up. I have to shut down with the power button, remove the Lion and Snow Leopard drive, then my Mac starts into Sierra.

The system picker does not come up when restarting with the Option key from ANY system.
 
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Yes. When in Sierra, I can see Lion and Snow Leopard drives in Startup preferences. When in Lion or Snow Leopard, Sierra is not displayed in Startup preferences, and holding the Option Key does not bring up the system picker. The screen goes gray, but the picker does not come up. I have to shut down with the power button, remove the Lion and Snow Leopard drive, then my Mac starts into Sierra.

The system picker does not come up when restarting with the Option key from ANY system.
In the past I’ve installed the rEFInd boot manager when I’ve had multiple macOS systems on my hard drive.

 
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