I need to reformat my work mac. My boss bought it about a month ago, so it's one of the newer ones that didn't come with an installation disc. It's running mountain lion and has a bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

I tried the CMD-R at startup trick, but it didn't work. Then I looked it up online and read that the new models don't have recovery partition, so you need a disc to reformat it, but I don't have disc!

I thought about downloading Mountain Lion from the app store and trying the USB drive trick, but the app store doesn't have Mountain Lion in my purchases because it came with the mac! I don't want to pay $30, just to reformat my Mac with something it already has.


  • When you say Command + R at startup didn't work, what happened exactly?
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 16:35
  • If you want to link to the article stating that new Macs do not have Recovery HD we might be able to either correct that article (as it's wrong) or address the understanding you had of that article.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 17:36
  • When I use CMD + R, it just starts up normally, as if I wasn't pressing anything. Here's the article: discussions.apple.com/thread/3277203?start=0&tstart=0
    – Dylan Karr
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 19:57
  • Why are you Reformatting it? it will destroy all information on it.
    – Ruskes
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 20:21
  • 2
    Because I want to destroy all the information on it.
    – Dylan Karr
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


Some short tidbits, followed with analysis:

  • You don't need to pay for the OS on a Mac that shipped with Lion or Mountain Lion.
  • Recovery HD ships with all the above Macs, but it's not visible in Disk Utility and could also be deleted, corrupted, or suffer a hardware failure.
  • Internet Recovery will let you re-download a recovery image from Apple's servers even if there is no hard drive connected in your iMac.
  • Booting from an external drive with OS X or a Recovery HD or a netboot drive (of which Internet Recovery is one free option) will allow you to totally wipe the entire drive in a Mac.
  • Most people are fine using Recovery HD to wipe their Macs as it erases the entire Macintosh HD portion and lest you start cleanly without needing to touch the Recovery HD.

Rather than boot to Command-R, I would boot to the startup chooser (just hold the option key) which should paint a grey screen with both the Macintosh HD and the Recovery HD - letting you choose the second. From there, if you have a fast internet connection (or don't mind waiting), you can use Disk Utility to zero the drive and then reinstall the OS that shipped with your iMac.


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