On occasion, you may find yourself in a situation where you need your computer to start up in a different way than it usually does. Whether you're troubleshooting to find the source of an issue with your computer or upgrading your computer's operating system to the latest version, you'll sometimes need to load data directly from a CD, a flash drive, secondary hard drive or even a second operating system installed on your computer. Luckily, you don't have to be a tech professional to do this: you can easily accomplish this task by using the Windows Boot Manager, accessed through your computer's startup sequence or through a menu option inside your Windows operating system's settings.
What Is Windows Boot Manager?
The Windows Boot Manager is a small piece of utility software installed to your boot volume – the small amount of space reserved on your hard drive that controls the way your computer starts up. Usually, Boot Manager works in the background when you turn on your computer, automatically loading your Windows installation. However, you can access the Windows Boot Manager menu manually, allowing you to temporarily modify your computer's startup sequence. On most computers, this can be accomplished by pressing the "F8" key as soon as your computer turns on. When the Windows Boot Manager menu opens, you can use the arrow keys to select an operating system or external boot source and then press "ENTER" to load it.
Accessing Windows 10 Boot Manager
If you have trouble accessing the Boot Manager during your computer's startup process, you can access the Windows 10 Boot Manager through your Settings menu after your computer loads your default Windows installation. To do this, click the gear for "Settings" inside your Start menu, then click "Update & Security" in the window that appears. In the menu on the left side of the window, click "Recovery," then under the "Advanced Startup" heading click "Restart Now." Your computer will restart and give you access to the Boot Manager.
Boot Manager on Windows 8.1
You can also access Windows Boot Manager directly through your Windows 8.1 install by following roughly the same procedure. From your Start menu, open "Settings," then click "Change PC Settings." Open the "General" settings menu, then click "Restart Now" under the "Advanced Startup" heading. In the menu that appears after your computer restarts, select "Use a Device" to open the Boot Manager.