Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm interested in getting an SSD for my MacBook Pro (2.2Ghz Early 2011) and I can't find out if it's possible to, when I first get the SSD, put it inside my MBP and then boot up with my OS X Lion USB stick which I created back when I did a clean install of Lion.

Can I do a completely clean fresh install on the blank SSD? And then transfer over a few of my files from an external hard drive that I want on it?

I'd rather do this as most of my files are easily transferrable and the amount of clone software and mirroring software etc. I'm reading about just has me confused to be honest. I'm thinking this would be way preferable and suitable to me.

I'm kind of puzzled as I don't know if the bare Mac interface that allows me to hold at boot and then install Lion is on the HDD that's currently in or is part of the Macbook's internal hardware...

share|improve this question
I should think that the system will seek a bootable device on startup - if there's no bootable partition on an internal hard drive, it should fall back on the bootable Lion USB stick. But I have no experience to bear that assumption out. – Dan J Feb 8 '12 at 6:04
Make note: Once booted from the USB stick you'll want to run Disk Utility (on the Lion install in a menu) and partition (GUID) and format the new SSD to your liking before installing Lion. – Richard Feb 8 '12 at 11:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes. Hold the key while booting up to select your install USB.

Also note that if you upgrade to the most recent version of Lion you should get the recovery partition to boot up without having to use the USB (internet connection required).

share|improve this answer
Ok thanks. To honest though I don't know what the second line means at all in regards to the recovery partition.. I've used separate partitions before to test out Ubuntu (didn't like it). And if I do this I'd be just using all the space as a single Lion partition installed from the Lion USB Installer. I don't know what a recovery partition is... or why I'd use internet recovery and a recovery partition.. If it worked I'd then just download the 10.7.3 combo and be up surely? – Will Feb 8 '12 at 8:00
I've just realised what you meant by the recovery part.. If I've installed, as of now, the most up-to-date EFI update when I boot I could install Lion via the internet rather than from the USB... – Will Feb 8 '12 at 9:10


  1. Make sure you have the latest SSD firmware installed. The hardware reseller should provide needed instructions. You may do this later.
  2. Install your new SSD.
  3. Insert your Lion Install USB. Hold on bootup and select your install USB.
    (This is possible when a new hard drive has been installed.)
  4. Abort installation and open Disk Utility from the menubar.
  5. Select your SSD. Go to the partition tab.
  6. Create your new partition scheme and under Options... select GUID Paritition Table. Apply Changes.
  7. Close Disk Utility and start installation.


In step 6 you do not have to manually create a Recovery HD partition. This will be done automatically during the installation process.

share|improve this answer
Thanks to everyone for their comments and help. Pretty much figured out what I wanted to know. I guess it seems the Mac startup/boot screen is intrinsic to the hardware it seems.. Part of me was thinking that when I put in the SSD there would be literally zero of anything to load with no operating system or anything whatsoever and it would just be turning a completely empty of everything computer on. Cheers for everyone's help. – Will Feb 8 '12 at 9:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.