MacBook Dual Boot

I recently replaced the Superdrive of my MacBook Pro with a regular HDD in order to add some disk space to my chronically full SSD. Installation went fine until I came to the point where I wanted to put Windows 7 on the new HDD: Windows simply refused to boot. I tried all sorts of rescue tools, boot managers, etc but no luck. Until I stumbled upon the following instructions in the Apple discussion forums:

  1. Insert Windows CD and boot to normal OSX.
  2. Run Boot Camp, partition your OSX drive and wait for it to reboot.
  3. When MacBook goes to reboot hold down power button until it shuts off.
  4. Swap out OSX drive in primary HDD location with purposed Windows HDD.
  5. Power on and delete all partitions, format and install Windows to new drive [Hold the option key on startup to boot from CD].
  6. I personally installed all updates and made sure Windows was running fine here. I was able to reboot and MacBook would power on straight into Windows. I could hold down option key and see the Superdrive and the Windows Drive.
  7. Take out Windows drive, replace with OSX and run Boot Camp and remove partition, shutdown.
  8. Take out Superdrive, move Windows into Superdrive with HDD Caddy, replace OSX back into original position.

Prerequisites: Regular OSX drive in drive bay 0, superdrive in drive bay 1 (=standard config), Windows 7 DVD

Weird right? But anyhow, this worked like a charm for me and I finally have a fully working dual boot system again. Oh, and on a side note: if you plan to share data between MacOS and Windows via a HDD partition, your best format option is probably going to be exFAT: Windows can’t read hfs+, MacOS can’t write NTFS and FAT32 has some nasty limitations like 4GB maximum file size.