Your Mac is a very talented machine. Unlike typical PCs, a Mac can easily install and run all major operating systems; from OS X Mountain Lion (and older versions) to various versions of Windows to Linux and many Unix OSs.
How? Once you get another operating system installed on your Mac (or installed onto a disk drive connected to your Mac), Apple makes you click a few times to reboot. There are easier ways to get to a different OS on your Mac.
Click To Restart A Mac
Aside from using Parallels or VMWare Fusion to run Windows within OS X on your Mac, it’s rather trivial to use Apple’s Boot Camp and install Windows, which requires rebooting the Mac.
For the most part, it’s also trivial to restart your Mac to another operating system.
Click System Preferences. Then click the Startup Disk icon. Select the operating system (Mac, Windows, Linux or whatever) you want to use, then click the Restart button.
In a minute or two your Mac starts up with the selected operating system. Is there an easier way? Yes. One way is feature laden and comes with a price tag. The other is elegant, simple, faster, and free.
Boot Runner is a startup control which displays connected operating systems. From the Boot Runner menu simply select which OS you want, click and it starts up.
There’s no need to remember to hold down control keys, no user administrative rights to worry about.
BootRunner also has options to configure the startup screen, display specific startup disks, select a different OS remotely, display unmounted startup disks, customize the background, the name, and description of each OS (good for a branded startup theme), and restart using the Menubar.
If all you need is a simple and more elegant way to startup your Mac on a different version of OS X, or Windows, or Linux, and you’re on a budget, there’s Quickboot.
Select the OS to startup from the Menubar.
Compared to Boot Runner, Quickboot’s Preferences are nominal, but may be sufficient for your needs.
Even with Quickboot you won’t need to hold down an option key while rebooting your Mac to a different OS.
And, it doesn’t change your Mac’s default startup disk so any subsequent reboot starts the Mac the way you expect. Right back where you left it.
There’s an option to use only the Menubar to reboot, or use the standalone pop up window with a list of bootable operating systems connected to your Mac.
If you deal in multiple OSs connected to your Mac, Quickboot also displays the build number of OS X installations.
Either way, restarting your Mac into a different OS is easier than Apple’s System Preferences > Startup Disk method, and comes with more options.