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I have been asked to "replace a hard drive in a macbook".

I'm able to physically swap out the drive, but I have no idea how mac software works. I have some questions:

  1. If I put in a new hard drive, will I have to reinstall an operating system?
  2. When you buy a mac, do they give you a copy of the OS on disc like buying a windows PC?
  3. If the procedure much different between different flavours of macbook?
  4. Are there any special tools required extra to a small philips-head screwdriver?
  • Do you know the model of the MacBook ? (Year, screen size) – Matthieu Riegler Sep 4 '13 at 7:03
  • 1- YES, 2- No (it is online), 3- Yes, 4- Sometimes – Ruskes Sep 4 '13 at 9:02
  • See ifixit.com/Device/Mac for the macbook version you have – user151019 Sep 4 '13 at 10:30
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1# If I put in a new hard drive, will I have to reinstall an operating system? yes, a new empty hard drive will have to be formatted and the os reinstalled

reboot and hold down the Option key

Choose the “Mac OS X Installer” startup volume from the boot menu

Select “Disk Utility” and choose the hard drive you wish to format, click the “Erase” tab, and then pull down the “Format” menu and select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the type, name the drive if you wish

Click the “Erase” button and let the drive format – this is the point of no return

When finished, quit out of Disk Utility and now select the “Install Mac OS X” option from the menu

Choose your freshly formatted hard drive and install Mountain Lion

2# When you buy a mac, do they give you a copy of the OS on disc like buying a windows PC? no, however depending on your mac, post- lion, you can use the recovery mode to download and reinstall the os information about recovery mode

3# If the procedure much different between different flavours of macbook? yes and no, different on different generations of MacBooks, but it is pretty straight forward and easily done link is to change ram, however look it over, and read the useful tips, the hard-drive is right next to the battery also you need to change the hard drive cover held in by screws

Are there any special tools required extra to a small philips-head screwdriver? no not really no unless you dont have any "normal" screwdivers

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  1. Yes, the new hard drive is empty. In fact, if it purports to have OS X on it, I would be suspicious. I'm not sure Apple have ever supplied OS X on a separate drive.
  2. "Old" laptop Macs (before OS X Lion) were sold with an optical disc. After a certain time most have shipped without an optical drive or a disc to put in it. In that case the internal hard drive (or SSD) was supplied with a recovery partition. You may be able to use Lion or later on a boot-able USB.
  3. Yes, you might want to look at iFixit's guides or Apple's support articles.
  4. Just Torx screws.
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One option is to clone the drive with Carbon Copy Cloner. Insert the new drive in the MacBook and connect the old drive by using a USB SATA enclosure or some other way. Then start up from the old drive, reformat the new drive in Disk Utility, and clone the old drive to the new drive. See http://help.bombich.com/kb/usage-scenarios/i-want-to-clone-my-entire-hard-drive-to-a-new-hard-drive-or-a-new-machine.

If your Mac supports Internet Recovery mode, another option is to start up in Internet Recovery mode and restore a Time Machine backup on the new drive. If you haven't already, make a Time Machine backup of the old drive on an external drive. Then turn off the Mac, replace the old drive with the new drive, and turn the Mac on. After you select a network, the Mac will display a spinning globe icon and download a disk image of the recovery system from Apple's servers. From that point, I'm not sure if you can just restore the Time Machine backup or if you have to reformat the new drive in or install OS X first, but it should be relatively straightforward in any case. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4904 for more information about the recovery system and the Internet Recovery mode.

Related questions:

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I was unable to install Snow Leopard 10.6.3 on a new blank drive in a mid 2010 MacBook Pro; it just hangs at the Apple logo. The computer boots just fine with a Mavericks HDD from another Mac Book. I contacted Apple and a senior tech told me that I would have to partition and format the drive using a running Mac before I could do the install. She clearly told me that "you cannot do a fresh install on a blank drive from the DVD" when I challenged the answer.

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