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OS X Support Essentials: OS X Recovery

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In this lesson from Apple Pro Training Series: OS X Support Essentials 10.9: Supporting and Troubleshooting OS X Mavericks, you will learn how to access OS X Recovery both on new Mac computers that came with OS X preinstalled and on systems that were upgraded to OS X Mavericks; explore the utilities available from OS X Recovery; and learn how to create external OS X recovery disks that can be used in cases where the local Recovery HD system isn’t available.
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Goals

  • Access the utilities available in OS X Recovery
  • Reinstall OS X from OS X Recovery
  • Create external recovery disks

From a troubleshooting viewpoint, one of the most useful OS X features is the OS X Recovery system. Via OS X Recovery, you can not only reinstall OS X but also access a variety of administration and troubleshooting utilities. OS X Recovery replaces functionality previously accessed via an OS X installation DVD. The primary difference is that the OS X Recovery system is, by default, located on the primary system disk. This allows easy “anytime” access to recovery utilities without the need for additional media.

In this lesson, you will learn how to access OS X Recovery both on new Mac computers that came with OS X preinstalled and on systems that were upgraded to OS X Mavericks. You will also briefly explore the utilities available from OS X Recovery. As long as you don’t make any permanent changes using the utilities in OS X Recovery, you can safely explore without damaging your primary OS X system. Finally, you will learn how to create external OS X recovery disks that can be used in cases where the local Recovery HD system isn’t available.

Reference 4.1: Startup from OS X Recovery

Mac systems running OS X Mavericks, including both systems that shipped with OS X Mavericks and upgraded systems, include a hidden OS X Recovery system on the local system disk. To access this copy of OS X Recovery, simply restart the computer while holding down Command-R. Once the OS X Recovery system fully starts, the OS X Utilities window appears. From there you can install (or reinstall) OS X and choose from a variety of maintenance applications.

If for some reason OS X Recovery doesn’t start or isn’t installed on the local system disk, there are three alternatives for accessing it:

  • If you have a Mac model released in mid-2010 or later—If your Mac computer has the latest firmware updates, it’s capable of accessing OS X Internet Recovery. If the local OS X Recovery system is missing, late-model Mac computers should automatically attempt to access OS X Internet Recovery. You can also force a system to start up to OS X Internet Recovery by holding down Command-Option-R. When your late-model Mac computer starts from OS X Internet recovery, it attempts to redownload the OS X Recovery system from Apple servers. If successful, this process re-creates the local Recovery HD partition.
  • MORE INFO ▶ ​​For more about using OS X Internet Recovery, see Apple Support article HT4718, “OS X: About OS X Recovery,” and article HT4904, “Computers that can be upgraded to use OS X Internet Recovery.”

  • If you have an external OS X recovery disk—Connect the recovery disk to your Mac computer, and restart while holding down the Option key. This opens Startup Manager, where you can use the Arrow and Return keys or the mouse and trackpad to select the OS X recovery disk. Reference section 4.3, “External OS X Recovery Disks,” covers this topic in greater detail.
  • If you have a local Time Machine backup disk—The Time Machine backup service automatically creates a hidden OS X Recovery system on local backup disks. To access this system, connect the Time Machine backup disk to your Mac computer, and restart while holding down the Option key. This opens the Mac computer’s Startup Manager, where (as above) you can use the Arrow and Return keys or the mouse and trackpad to select the Time Machine backup disk. Lesson 18, “Time Machine,” covers this topic in greater detail.
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