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"Pre-boot" control of headless Mac

By Chris @cnicholson
    2023-07-06 18:27:14.722Zassigned to
    • @cghague

    Hello. I am clueless and found this via Google.

    Desired use case: I have a headless Mac Mini that I'd like to be able to remotely control (KVM) even when (regular) OS is not working (recovery mode, pre-boot options, etc.).

    Assumptions: this product presents itself as an HDMI monitor, a generic USB mouse + keyboard (and a bootable USB mass storage device?) and the "client" is sort of like browser based VNC type client. I will separately deploy an IP power cycler and a means of remotely accessing my LAN.


    1. Does this "just work" out of the box? Assuming I figure out what IP it grabbed and point any browser at it? I'm a Mac guy, forgive me!

    2. Will it work with "press and hold" key combos during power-up to put me into different modes on the Mac side? On the new M1/M2 Macs, you need to press and hold the hardware Power button to enter "special boot modes." Not even sure if this is possible via (physical) generic USB keyboard so perhaps a tall order, but thought I'd ask. This would be ideal)

    3. Does the feature that lets you upload a bootable disk image (which presumably presents as a USB thumb drive) work on Mac OS on Apple Silicon systems?


    • 1 replies
    1. C

      Hi Chris, thanks for reaching out with your questions about using TinyPilot.

      The TinyPilot Voyager 2a connects to your local network using Ethernet and should automatically configure itself with an IP address. You can then access it from a computer on the same network using most modern browsers. There are also options for accessing it over the Internet.

      I have tested using TinyPilot with an M1 Mac Mini and I can confirm that, while TinyPilot does appear to work with the recovery mode interface, there doesn’t seem to be any way to initially enter that mode without physical access to the Mac Mini’s power button. Using the “Startup Disk” option in System Preferences could be a potential workaround depending on your requirements.

      TinyPilot presents itself to the target computer as a USB hub, with a keyboard, mouse, and virtual media device attached. The virtual media device can emulate a CD-ROM drive or a USB mass storage device. I’m not aware of any reason why an Apple Silicon Mac wouldn’t be able to boot from this, but I don’t believe it’s something we’ve tested.