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Unable to set startup disk SDErrorDomian error 108: Unable to boot from external SSD

I installed MacOS Monterey 12.6.1 on my APFS-formatted SanDisk 4TB Extreme Pro Portable SSD using my Macbook Air. Then I tried to boot off the Sandisk drive via my Mac Studio M1 Max (also running Monterey 12.6.1), but I couldn't. I get this message, "Unable to set startup disk. An error occurred while setting "Untitled" as the startup disk: The operation couldn’t be completed. (SDErrorDomain error 108.)" when selecting it as my startup disk after holding the power button for 30 seconds. I have changed "Startup Security Utility" to "Reduced Security." Can ANYONE tell me how to set my Mac Studio to boot off of the SanDisk 4TB Extreme Pro Portable SSD without all these roadblocks?

Best Answered by

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

Jenny Zeng

Answered on Monday, February 19, 2024

"Unable to set startup disk An error occurred while setting "drivename" as the startup disk: The operation couldn't be completed. (SDErrorDomian error 108)" usually occurs on M1, M2, or T2 Macs, resulting from incorrect Startup Security Utility settings, drive connection problems, issues with your external SSD's macOS installation, booting from a macOS version earlier than the OS installed on Mac, etc.

I see that you encountered "Unable to set startup disk error 108" when trying to set your external SSD as the startup disk on your M1 Mac and boot from it. Here are some fixes you should try:

① Check disk connections

If your external SSD is connected to your Mac through a faulty USB cable, port, or hub, you won't be able to boot from it. Therefore, it's necessary to ensure your drive is properly connected. Try the following tips and test if the issue persists.

  • After ejecting your SSD, unplug it and reconnect it to a different USB port.
  • Reconnect your SSD with a different USB cable.
  • Connect your SSD directly to your Mac, or use another hub or disk enclosure.

 Note: For those who receive "Unable to set startup disk SDErrorDomian error 108" on T2 Macs, ensure your Mac is set to allow booting from external or removable media in Startup Security Utility. The option isn't available on M1 & M2 Macs.

② Switch your startup disk from System Preferences/Settings

Apart from selecting the startup disk by long pressing the power button, you can boot up from your internal hard drive and change it from System Preferences > Startup Disk on macOS Monterey.

③ Start over and retry installing macOS to your SSD

If you still can't run your Mac from the external SSD, I recommend you erase it in Disk Utility and retry installing macOS on it through your Mac Studio, but with a different method or a newer macOS version like Ventura.

Choose one of the following ways to install macOS on your external SSD:

  • 1. Delete the installer from the Applications folder, redownload it, run it, and select your external SSD as the destination disk.
  • 2. Boot into macOS Recovery, click "Reinstall macOS," then select your external SSD as the destination disk.
  • 3. Create a bootable macOS installer on your SSD, boot from it, select "Install macOS," and select your external SSD as the destination disk.

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