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Scenario: I boot into Recovery mode and open Disk Utility. Then I select the primary hard drive and choose 1 partition. Will that destroy the recovery partition as well?

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No destruction will happen - This repartitioning you propose is possible to safely do.

The recovery partition won't modify itself (since it's in use) and will survive attempts to erase itself when it's in charge.

You also can resize things in general when booted from the main OS as long as files that are stored in the area being trimmed are mobile and not in-use or locked.

You have to enable a debug mode for Disk Utility to see and work on the Recovery HD so it's planned to be something you have to know a trick and go out of your way to tamper with.

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Awesome. I did a clean install of my wife's MacBook last night and I got to that part and didn't know what to expect so I just erased the disk. Thanks for the assurance. I like to repartition. Not sure if it is better or the same as erasing the drive - for a clean install purpose. –  Nate Bird Aug 12 '11 at 18:41
    
Partition forces a write to the partition map. In practice, it's rarely of use - but it feels nice and is that one step cleaner :-) I like to partition to three equal and then back to one to see the map change and back as well as exercise the formatting a bit. One time I caught a bad drive that way, so now I'm that baseball player that has a superstitions routine for others to smile at :-) –  bmike Aug 12 '11 at 19:33
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