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So I got a MacBook (non pro) from a friend but the HDD is dead. After replacing it, I had no way to restore OS X and my friend can't find the recovery/reinstall disc.

The model seems too old for Internet recovery (A1181 Core Duo, not C2D) and DIY recovery tool on Apple's site says the Mac must have a "recovery hd", which I assume I don't have since the HDD is blank.

Any alternatives? Is there a way to find the license using the serial of the machine?

  • Can you tell us which model is it ? – Thomas Ayoub Apr 1 '14 at 14:38
  • is the hard drive dead or blank? If it was just erased, the recovery partition might still be there. – dwightk Apr 1 '14 at 14:44
  • @Samoth it's a coreduo A1181 – Ghost Apr 2 '14 at 22:19
  • @dwightk The HDD was already doing some noises but my friend said it had been doing that for years so "no biggie", but then it died – Ghost Apr 2 '14 at 22:20
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Since you say it's a Core Duo and not a Core 2 Duo, I think that you've got one of the original white (or black) MacBooks. If I'm correct, you're not going to be able to install Mavericks (10.9) on it. The latest OS that your MacBook will support is Snow Leopard. If I'm correct that this is your MacBook, you will be able to get a Snow Leopard DVD from somewhere (you can order it from Apple for $20) and install it via the DVD. If I haven't guessed your Mac correctly, you can use this checker to figure out which one you do have.

If you are close to an Apple Store, it's quite possible that they will reinstall its original OS onto it for you. Set up an appointment at the Genius Bar, explain your predicament, and ask for their assistance.

  • So no way to get the license number? Can't I use a serial number from the unit and a copy of OSX? – Ghost Apr 2 '14 at 22:24
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    Snow Leopard doesn't ask for a serial number when you're installing it. You'll need a generic Snow Leopard (or Leopard) install disc, though, not one for a specific Mac. The discs that ship with a Mac are tied to that model and won't install on any other model. This does mean that you could find someone who has the exact same Mac that you do and use their install media, which is probably going to be more difficult than anything else. That's why I suggested going to the Apple Store and seeing if they'll install the original OS onto your MacBook. – nadyne Apr 2 '14 at 22:54
  • Good news, my friend did find the disc (Tiger, man this thing is old) so I can restore it now. Thanks for the help – Ghost Apr 7 '14 at 21:11
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Yes, there are so many ways to kill a cat :) You can create a USB installer of Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion or even Mavericks.

I can talk you through a process for each OS, or you could just take the computer to an Apple Store and they will stick the OS that came with the machine when it was purchased on it.

But to create the installer yourself you will need another computer to achieve that.

  • But what about the license? also this thing ran out of warranty ages ago and I don't have an apple store near me, would a reseller do that or they might charge me through the nose for it? – Ghost Apr 2 '14 at 22:25

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