Accessing hidden boot options in the BIOS

A colleague told me about the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 having hidden BIOS options you might want to know about. The scenario was trying to boot the system when it was in UEFI-only mode from a bootable USB drive formatted with FAT32. Should work, right? Unfortunately the BIOS hides untrusted boot devices like flash drives when it is in UEFI-only mode, so your flash drive won’t even be displayed in the boot order screen of your BIOS.

The trick to booting the system when it is in UEFI-only mode from a flash drive is to open the boot order screen in the BIOS and use the down arrow to go beyond the end of the list of available devices. When you do this, a list of disabled boot devices (like your flash drive) will be displayed. Select your flash drive and press the exclamation point (“!”) key and your flash drive will miraculously be added to the list of available (trusted) boot devices. Exit the BIOS (saving changes) and reboot your system, press F12 to go into the boot override screen, select your flash drive from the boot order list, and now you can boot from it.

The above tip was previously published in an issue of WServerNews, a weekly newsletter from TechGenix that focuses on the administration, management and security of the Windows Server platform in particular and cloud solutions in general. Subscribe to WServerNews today by going to and join almost 100,000 other IT professionals around the world who read our newsletter!

Mitch Tulloch is a twelve-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud computing technologies.  Mitch is also Senior Editor of WServerNews. For more information about him see


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