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I read that the hotkey to use for reinstalling osx is cmd + r but I have a windows keyboard plugged in and I am wondering what I can do to reinstall osx with this keyboard?

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The Command key maps to the ALT key on a standard US English keyboard

Try holding down ALT + R and see if that works.

Alternitavely, holding down ALT during EFI (when the screen is grey directly after power on) will present you with a menu of boot options. This should include the recovery partition on the hard drive, as well as any external media (OS X media for example) the system considers bootable

  • I tried this it doesn't work, also tried with ctrl and the windows key and this all did not work. – erikvold Nov 23 '14 at 15:32
  • You do need to be holding it down at the right point in the process. Try turning the computer off, and then the second you press the power button hold down ctrl. This has always worked on my Late 09 iMac. If you've got optical media, pressing C should make it boot from that. – Crippledsmurf Nov 23 '14 at 21:20
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Hold windows key + ALT + R Together

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    This works ! Using windows keyboard wireless 2000 – Sijan Shrestha May 2 '18 at 5:44
  • Same here! Wireless Desktop 5000! Thank you so much! – Reado Nov 19 '18 at 7:53
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I have a logitech G110 keyboard attached in to one of the two middle USB ports on the back of an iMac from late 2011 and holding down Alt on boot up gave me the option to choose recovery so I'm hoping this helps

  • This is the same as the other answer. – Burgi Feb 12 '16 at 9:02
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Just an update, you have to hold down the CONTROL key (by itself) until the Recovery Menu pops up. I was having the same sort of issue, on a Mac Desktop A1186; using a standard keyboard. After several attempts by trial and error, I finally got the unit to boot to the recovery menu, by holding down CTRL; and CTRL ONLY - Right AFTER pressing the power button AND hearing the apple chime. Just wanted to share this in case anyone else ran into this same issue. Thanks.

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The Windows key plus the R key (i.e.,Win+R)

Re/boot the computer and do not actually press this combination until the instant you hear the obnoxious “startup chime” (AKA “macOS is broken again everyone far and wide hear it!”), and hold this combination until you see the Apple logo, then feel free to release. That is all. Stupid OS.

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Cmd should map to the Windows key, on a UK keyboard.
Maybe they're different for different keyboard layouts.

It would only take you 3 reboots to figure out which it was anyway ;-)

  • actually I tried alt, windows key and ctrl all more than twice now, so it takes more than 3 reboots. – erikvold Nov 23 '14 at 15:31
  • which only goes to prove it's not working, not that my answer was wrong. – Tetsujin Nov 23 '14 at 15:38
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Windows key + R worked for me with a PC-keyboard on a Mac Mini for reinstalling macOS. I hold them down when starting up the Mac Mini.

  • Redundant to an answer that predates it. – Jan Kyu Peblik Jan 18 at 21:22

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