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Reference 4.2 OS X Recovery Utilities

OS X Recovery is a useful administrative and troubleshooting resource. When you start up from this system, you will have access to several system administration and maintenance tools. This system even has a few utilities you cannot find anywhere else in OS X. Again, when you first start the OS X Recovery system, you are greeted with the OS X Utilities window.

From the OS X Utilities window in OS X Recovery, you can access:

  • Restore From Time Machine Backup—You can use this to restore a full-system Time Machine backup from either a network or a locally connected disk. Lesson 18, “Time Machine,” covers this topic in greater detail.
  • Reinstall OS X—As the name implies, this will open the OS X Installer. If you are running from a full OS X Restore system, like the OS X Mountain Lion Recovery Disk purchased from Apple, the disk contains all the OS X installation assets. However, the local hidden OS X Recovery HD and disks created with OS X Recovery Disk Assistant do not contain the installation assets and thus require Internet access to reinstall OS X. Further, the OS X Installer must verify that the user is allowed access to the OS X Mountain Lion assets. On older Macs that were upgraded to OS X Mountain Loin, you will have to verify the installation by providing the Apple ID used to purchase OS X. For Macs that shipped with OS X Mountain Lion, this verification is automatic. Lesson 2, “Install OS X Mountain Lion,” covers this topic in greater detail.
  • Get Help Online—This will open Safari, directed to the Apple support website.
  • Disk Utility—This application is responsible for storage-related administration and maintenance. It is especially useful when the Mac has started up from OS X Recovery, because Disk Utility can be used to manage a system disk that otherwise can’t be managed when in use as the startup disk. Specifically, Disk Utility can be used to prepare a disk for a new installation of OS X or to attempt repairs on a disk that fails installation. Lesson 10, “File Systems and Storage,” covers this topic in greater detail.
  • Startup Disk (by clicking the close button or quitting)—If you attempt to quit the OS X Utilities window, it will prompt you to start the Startup Disk utility. This utility will allow you to select the default system startup disk. The default startup disk can be overridden using any of the alternate startup modes discussed in Lesson 30, “System Troubleshooting.”

    Wait, there’s more. OS X Recovery has a few extra utilities hidden in the Utilities menu at the top of the screen:

  • Firmware Password Utility—This utility will allow you to secure the Mac computer’s startup process by disabling all alternate startup modes without a password. You can disable or enable this feature and define the required password. You can find out more about Firmware Password in Lesson 8, “System Security.”
  • Network Utility—This is the primary network and Internet troubleshooting utility in OS X. The primary use of this utility in OS X Recovery is to troubleshoot any network issues that could prevent the download of OS X installation assets. The Network utility is further discussed in Lesson 24, “Network Troubleshooting.”
  • Terminal—This is your primary interface to the UNIX command-line environment of OS X. The most useful command you can enter from here is simply resetpassword followed by the Return key.
  • Reset Password opened via Terminal—This utility will allow you to reset the password of any local user account, including the root user, on the selected system disk. Obviously, this is a dangerous utility that can pose a serious security threat. Because of this, the Reset Password utility will only run from OS X Recovery. You can find out more about Reset Password in Lesson 8, “System Security.”
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