Running Windows 7 or Mac OS X on the A-65 iMac computers

Last revision November 3, 2011

The iMac computers in the A-65 lab can run either the Windows 7 operating system or the Mac OS X 10.6.8 operating system, thus giving access to a wide variety of software programs.

This page describes how to run the operating system of your choice on these iMac computers. You can only run one operating system at a time. Switching to the other operating system requires restarting the computer. This page only shows the startup procedure. See the lab FAQ if you are having trouble getting logged in once the operating system has started.

Note that you can share files easily between the operating systems (and between computers). Files saved in the Documents folder of your profile in Windows 7 appear in the Documents subfolder of your home folder on Mac OS X, and vice-versa, on any iMac in the lab, because these folders are actually stored on the Earth Sciences file server. See the lab FAQ for more information.

This page first shows how to start the computer in the operating system you want, if it is currently turned off. Then it gives directions to switch from running Windows 7 to Mac OS X. Finally, it gives directions to switch from running Mac OS X to Windows 7.


Starting the right operating system when the computer is off

If the iMac you want to use is completely turned off, you can start directly into the operating system of your choice.

If you want to run Windows 7, just press the power button. The power button is located near the left bottom of the screen, on the back side. Windows 7 is the default operating system on these iMacs, as most courses use Windows-based software.

If you want to run Mac OS X, you must hold down the Option key on the keyboard (lower left) while pressing the power button. This key tells the computer's firmware to search for disk partitions with operating systems on them.

Keep the Option key pressed until you see these icons appear on the screen:

As you can see, you have a choice of startup disk partitions. Windows contains the Windows 7 system and is circled because it is the default startup disk. Macintosh HD contains the Mac OS X 10.6.8 system. Move the cursor over the Macintosh HD icon and click on it. Your screen should change to look like this:

Now click on the circled arrow below the Macintosh HD icon to start up Mac OS X.

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Switch from Windows 7 to Mac OS X

If the iMac you want to use is running Windows 7, you must restart to switch to Mac OS X. Hold down the Option key during the restart procedure so the iMac will search for disk partitions with operating systems and give you a choice between Windows 7 and Mac OS X, as shown above.

Here are two sets of instructions for initiating a restart from Windows 7. The first case, immediately below, describes what to do if you (or someone else) are logged into Windows 7. The second case, which follows after, shows how to restart when Windows 7 is running, but no one is logged in.


Restarting if logged into Windows 7

Your iMac is logged into Windows 7 if it shows the Windows 7 desktop, like this (background photo may vary and there may be open windows from applications):

You should save all work you are doing and close all open applications first. Then click on the Start button (Windows logo) in the lower left corner to bring up a list of programs and things to do. If you click on the Shut down button, your computer will completely shut down (stop running). However, if you click on the little right pointing triangle next to the Shut down button, you will get a shutdown menu with more options, as shown in this screenshot:

Click on the Restart option in this shutdown menu. Hold down the Option key during the restart procedure so the iMac will search for disk partitions with operating systems and give you a choice between Windows 7 and Mac OS X, as shown above.


Restarting if Windows 7 is running, but not logged-in

If Windows 7 is running, but no one is logged in, moving the mouse should bring it out of sleep mode and show this welcome window:

As the screen says, press the Control, Alt, and Delete keys at the same time to begin. A Stanford policy window will appear, as shown in this screenshot:

Click on the OK button to acknowledge that you agree with this policy. That will take you to the login window, as shown in this screenshot:

Notice the red button in the lower right corner of the screen. If you click on the button, it will shut down the computer. But if you click on the upward pointing triangle, you will get a menu of actions. Click on the Restart item in that menu.

Hold down the Option key during the restart procedure so the iMac will search for disk partitions with operating systems and give you a choice between Windows 7 and Mac OS X, as shown above.

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Switch from Mac OS X to Windows 7

If the iMac you want to use is running Mac OS X, you must restart to switch to Windows 7. The restart will automatically bring up Windows 7 by default, as most courses in the lab use Windows programs.

If you want to restart Mac OS X again, hold down the Option key during the restart procedure so the iMac will search for disk partitions with operating systems and give you a choice between Windows 7 and Mac OS X, as shown above.

Here are two sets of instructions for initiating a restart from Mac OS X. The first case, immediately below, describes what to do if you (or someone else) are logged into Mac OS X. The second case, which follows after, shows how to restart if Mac OS X is running, but no one is logged in.


Restarting if logged into Mac OS X

Your iMac is logged into Mac OS X if it shows the Mac OS X desktop, like this (background image may vary and there may be open windows from applications):

Be sure to save your work and close all open applications first. Then click on the Apple menu in the upper left corner, and then click on the item labeled Restart..., as shown in this screenshot:

A dialog box will appear to confirm that you really want to restart, as shown in this screenshot:

Click on the Restart button to proceed with the restart. The restart will automatically bring up Windows 7 by default, as most courses in the lab use Windows programs.

If you want to restart Mac OS X again, hold down the Option key during the restart procedure so the iMac will search for disk partitions with operating systems and give you a choice between Windows 7 and Mac OS X, as shown above.


Restarting if Mac OS X is running, but not logged-in

If Mac OS X is running, but no one is logged in, moving the mouse should bring it out of sleep mode and show this login window:

Simply click on the Restart button to proceed with the restart. The restart will automatically bring up Windows 7 by default, as most courses in the lab use Windows programs.

If you want to restart Mac OS X again, hold down the Option key during the restart procedure so the iMac will search for disk partitions with operating systems and give you a choice between Windows 7 and Mac OS X, as shown above.

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