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I bought an open-item, unregistered MacBook Pro from Best Buy and they told me that they had installed Mountain Lion just like a clean setup. But the iLife bundle doesn't appear in the laptop or in the App Store (the "Purchased" section is empty). Does anyone know if I need to buy it?

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possible duplicate of Do all Macs come with iLife apps? –  bassplayer7 Feb 5 '13 at 21:27
I'd go back and ask them to assist with loading the apps. They can always gift you the apps if they made a mistake. –  bmike Feb 7 '13 at 4:01
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2 Answers 2

Best Buy lied. When they reinstalled the machine, it wiped iLife. Here's what you need to do, from http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1224880

How to reinstall iLife on an open-box Mac w/ Lion. So I was in best buy the other day and picked up the newest MacBook Air 11 for $1101 (including 7.5% sales tax) (AMAZING beast of a machine by the way) and have run in to a problem.

Because Apple likes the cloud so much, we don't get application CDs any longer. By law, Best Buy is required to restore a returned computer. If you go to "purchased" in the app store, you will see your iLife apps but when you click download it will tell you that they are linked to another Apple ID! I called Apple Care and after being on hold for a while I was told that my only option was to email the App Store representatives, BUMMER!

Anyway, even though it will more than likely be a simple 2-3 email solution, Apple is going to have a messy experience with this and it's pretty inconvenient for both sides.

Call Apple Care. Let them know you researched the topic online in case try and ask you to do anything other than what is listed here. If they try to tell you to contact the Mac App store tell them you are certain that is not a resolution. Ask them to contact their engineering team to remove the previous users registration for iLife off the computer/Serial. It does NOT matter if you erase reformat your drive and reinstall Lion, that will not work (by the way, they will not be able to do it while you are on the phone with them as they have to contact the engineers.) After they do this, do the following and you will be good to go!

1) In Finder, click on the Go menu.

2) Click Go to Folder.

3) Enter ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.appstore/

4) Drag adoption.plist to the Trash.

5) Restart and see if they appear in purchased items.

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I don't question that these instructions worked for the poster of that thread, but I can definitely say that they didn't work for me. (Perhaps the difference is that my MBA was a demo unit, while others were refurbished from customers.) –  Tyler Wayne Feb 5 '13 at 20:24
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The answer is regrettably yes, you have to buy it. Unless you get lucky.

I went through this experience when I bought my open-box MacBook Air from Best Buy. At first I thought that I could contact Apple Support and get them to attribute the software to my Apple ID, but I was wrong.

The free copy of iLife that comes with every new Mac is given to the first Apple ID that gets associated with a user account on the Mac. It's non-transferrable, because it's somehow tied to the hardware (I don't know the details).

However, fortune smiled upon me. When I upgraded from Lion to Mountain Lion, a firmware update or something gave me the ability to download the iLife suite for free. It seems that an OS upgrade or certain updates can post-link the apps to your Apple ID.

Summary: I recommend only buying the iLife apps that you need. Wait and see if a future update brings you the others.

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