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#22829 - 07/31/12 01:54 PM portable boot key peripheral
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
I find myself again at a customer's house with a computer that doesn't want to start normally off their internal hdd. My service drive is useless because they only have a bluetooth keyboard and the keyboard will not see Option at startup. (but it lets me zap pram???)

So I'd like to find a peripheral that lets me have a key or two held down at startup. A little usb flashdrive looking thing would be great. Rather than having to pack a spare keyboard in my vehicle. (I already carry spare usb a/b and an ethernet cable) Any ideas? Or will I just have to pack a keyboard all the time?
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#22833 - 07/31/12 09:22 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: Virtual1]
dandi Offline


Registered: 07/31/12
Hey off topic...how does one get the diagnostic files you spoke of...the ones that are similar to the AHT to test hardware on various models from a flash drive? are they available publicly from apple?

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#22834 - 07/31/12 09:32 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: Virtual1]
artie505 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
> (but it lets me zap pram???)

OK... I'll go for the bait.

Its letting you zap PRAM suggests that it can see the option key under some circumstances, so perhaps it can be made to see it for your benefit.

Have you tried command-option or the like?
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#22839 - 08/01/12 04:44 AM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: artie505]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: artie505
> (but it lets me zap pram???)

OK... I'll go for the bait.

Its letting you zap PRAM suggests that it can see the option key under some circumstances, so perhaps it can be made to see it for your benefit.

Have you tried command-option or the like?


I suppose I can do more experiments today and see. Turned out to be a bad hdd with lots of slow blocks. Basically stalled while spinning the gear. Couldn't boot into verbose to look for IO error messages, couldn't boot off a service drive to test the HDD.

I've had this problem numerous times with customers that bought an imac with bluetooth keyboard and mouse option. I don't see how it can detect SOME startup keys but not others...

(it's been my experience that holding down extra keys causes boot combos not to work, a stuck key on a a laptop keyboard generally prevents using boot keys, but only on that keyboard, external USB keyboards can still be used)
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#22840 - 08/01/12 04:48 AM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: dandi]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: dandi
Hey off topic...how does one get the diagnostic files you spoke of...the ones that are similar to the AHT to test hardware on various models from a flash drive? are they available publicly from apple?

I have those tools on a flash drive. All ~25 of them fit nicely on a 1gb flash drive if done properly. Those ASD are "Apple Service Diagnostic" images, basically a hopped up version of the AHT Apple Hardware Test. ASD are only available to AASP's, but I think you can still download any of the AHT. Problem with them is there is generally one AHT for each and every model, so there are a LOT of them. An ASD typically covers ~15 models. (some more, some less) The boot picker starts getting difficult to use with more than 20 things to select from, because unlike the PPC that would grid things, the intel picker displays only one horizontal row and starts to squeeze things down and abbreviate the volume names. If you put all the AHT on a single flash drive it would be a problem picking the one you wanted to use.

The service drive I'm referring to has 14 or so bootable volumes on it plus a data volume. The ones I work with now have the OS installers from 10.3.4 through 10.8, (including 10.4.7 intel) and have an installed service OS from 10.5.8 to 10.8. The data partition is used to store service tools (disk warrior etc) and also as a place to recover data or back up to from failing internal drives. (usability varies depending on available space, which depends on drive capacity - 250gb doesn't leave room for all the data, 320 doesn't have much left for data recovery, 500+ is good) I also store common installers on the data partition. (iLife, Office, etc)

I use a complex rsync script to keep the service drives here updated from my master drive. Every computer tech should have these. I feel sorry for the windows techs that can't easily do this, it's a tremendous time-saver, and helps the sales people up front be able to assist me with easier things. And it's monumentally faster than booting or installing from disc, flash drive, or over the network.

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#22861 - 08/02/12 03:51 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: Virtual1]
MicroMatTech3 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
I have been told that pressing the spacebar at the start of the boot will allow a Blutooth keyboard to be recognized.

In my experience with an iMac (July 2010) this apparently-poorly-documented feature sometimes works and sometimes does not. It has always puzzled me why the spacebar press is the gateway to recognition when this works, because the spacebar is on the Blutooth keyboard itself. When it works, it seems magical, and when it fails, grumbling must be suppressed.

Once, just once, I was able to press the spacebar, and then hold down the Option key to invoke the Startup Manager, with the desired result.
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#22863 - 08/02/12 04:17 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: MicroMatTech3]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
A BT keyboard should allow booting with the Option key depressed to access the Startup manager. I've been doing it for years with rarely a problem. If it doesn't work, either the Option key, the entire keyboard or BT is busted, or the keyboard batteries are dead. I'm sure you all are aware of this, so what—if anything—am I missing in V1's query or in your spacebar suggestion?

confused
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#22864 - 08/02/12 06:38 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: alternaut]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: alternaut
am I missing in V1's query or in your spacebar suggestion?
confused


Dunno. As mentioned above, I could cmd-opt-p-r to make it chime again, but holding option alone was ignored and proceeded directly to apple and gear. Option alone from a usb keyboard worked fine. This was a 21.5" imac, 2010'ish.
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#22869 - 08/03/12 06:58 AM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: Virtual1]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Weird. Anyway, it looks like you'll have to add a USB keyboard to your toolbox to have the option (pun intended) to select the boot volume. Perhaps a foldable touch version? wink
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#22886 - 08/03/12 08:48 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: MicroMatTech3]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: MicroMatTech3
I have been told that pressing the spacebar at the start of the boot will allow a Blutooth keyboard to be recognized.

In my experience with an iMac (July 2010) this apparently-poorly-documented feature sometimes works and sometimes does not. It has always puzzled me why the spacebar press is the gateway to recognition when this works, because the spacebar is on the Blutooth keyboard itself. When it works, it seems magical, and when it fails, grumbling must be suppressed.

Once, just once, I was able to press the spacebar, and then hold down the Option key to invoke the Startup Manager, with the desired result.


I have an iMac with a Bluetooth keyboard. Apple claims I should be able to hold the Option key down on this keyboard to get the startup list manager on boot.

In practice, I find that it works occasionally. About 4/5ths of the time, it doesn't bring up the startup menu; about 1/5 of the time, it works fine. I can not find any reason whyit only works sometimes, nor what's different between times when it works and times when it doesn't.
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#22894 - 08/04/12 10:57 AM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: tacit]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
This is definitely abnormal. It looks to me that your iMac's BT or keyboard is malfunctioning; alternatively, you may hit the Option key too late. That said, my bet is on a malfunction, possibly brought about by interference from other RF sources, or some degree of screening or signal attenuation between BT-linked components. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily help in fixing the issue, but you may be able to further pinpoint it.
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#22908 - 08/05/12 09:32 AM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: alternaut]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
If virtual1 and micromat tech3's experiences are any indication, this seems quite normal. I know that I don't have any other Bluetooth devices (I don't even use the Bluetooth mouse that came with the computer, because I have a USB mouse that's better for gaming). I know that most of the folks I've spoken to who have Apple Bluetooth keyboards report similar unreliability in trying to bring up the boot menu with it.

I have noticed that when the computer boots, the Bluetooth keyboard's power light blinks for a moment the same way it does when you press the power switch. This suggests to me that at some point in the boot process, the computer is sending some kind of reset signal to Bluetooth devices, and the keyboard may be finishing with the reset too late for the computer to see the Option key.
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#22914 - 08/05/12 05:13 PM Re: portable boot key peripheral [Re: tacit]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: tacit
If virtual1 and micromat tech3's experiences are any indication, this seems quite normal. I know that most of the folks I've spoken to who have Apple Bluetooth keyboards report similar unreliability in trying to bring up the boot menu with it.

You may have misunderstood me: I too have seen comments and complaints about BT issues and Startup Manager beyond the ones you mention, so I know it's real. I'm simply saying that this clearly is not the kind of BT keyboard behavior Apple intended, be it with the Option key or any other Startup key combination, and as such I called it abnormal. Moreover, as measured by (the lack of relevant) Apple Discussions hits, the incidence of boot picker call failure is just too low to consider it 'normal' on that ground too. I suppose that's another way of saying that it doesn't look like a systemic issue with Apple's BT keyboards, despite comments blaming 'certain' keyboards to the contrary. But I also know that such appearances can be deceptive.

Be all that as it may, the interesting question is whether the problem can be resolved without (for instance) replacing the keyboard. I don't have a sure-fire solution, only some suggestions to try. In this context you mention that
Originally Posted By: tacit
... when the computer boots, the Bluetooth keyboard's power light blinks for a moment the same way it does when you press the power switch.

Contrary to what you think, I suspect this may in fact signify that your keyboard isn't properly paired; this includes the possibility that it is paired to more than one (local) Mac or iDevice. See the Wireless Connection issue/Keyboard section of Troubleshooting wireless mouse and keyboard issues for details. (This KB deals with Snow Leopard; there is a separate KB article for Leopard. I haven't been able to locate specific articles for Lion or Mountain Lion, but I suspect they will follow the Snow Leopard guide linked to above.)

Should re-pairing of the BT keyboard etc. not lead to a resolution, it may help to realize that RF interference doesn't have to be from other BT units to be disruptive. Likewise, there may be USB interference. In addition, resetting PRAM (despite the lack of obvious links to BT) and especially SMC may restore full BT functionality according to a number of users. Finally, in case startup key problems persist, it may help to try Safe mode and (especially) Verbose mode to see if the keyboard is recognized during startup.

Who knows, one or the other suggestion might actually help... laugh
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