I've seen plenty of how to's on how to upgrade if you have a working installation of OS-X, however I purchased this macbook used, it needed a hard drive and a keyboard.

So I put a new hard drive in it and installed Ubuntu temporarily.

How do I get the image of the newest OS-X onto a USB thumb drive? I can't access the mac store since I don't own any other Apple products.

Keep in mind I'm using a regular, non-mac external keyboard until my new one shows up.


Well if you have no other Mac, nor access to another Mac that you can download Mavericks with then you'll have to use internet recovery.

Boot the Mac holding down COMMAND-R (on a PC keyboard that would be WINDOWS-R) And if there is no recovery partition you go into internet recovery and get the OS your Mac shipped with (Possibly Mountain Lion).

Probably best to use a wired connection otherwise it will take hours.

I gather it's not difficult to do, but Apple has a knowledge base article here with the details.


Once you get Mountain Lion installed you can use the App Store to download Mavericks.

And if you just have to start with Mavericks, you'll have to find a friend with a Mac that can download that installer for you...

  • Internet recovery is not an option. I tried pressing CNTRL + R during start-up, nothing happens unfortunately. Holding alt in brings me to a screen where I can choose what to boot from, however since this is a new hard drive, it doesn't have the recovery partition Apr 25 '14 at 1:05
  • Neither ALT nor CONTROL is the key to hold on a Windows keyboard. Hold the WINDOWS key which is what a Mac uses for the command key on a Windows keyboard Apr 25 '14 at 15:36
  • For me it took some time till the internet recovery screen showed up. just hold on and be sure the pressed keys are the right keys ;)
    – CodeBrauer
    Feb 10 '16 at 9:37
  • For older models the internet recovery is not in firmware but on disk. If that disk is not present, no recovery and boot media is needed. Sep 22 '19 at 22:43

The official answer from Steve Chambers will work in almost all cases. It's been a year, so the details aren't fresh in my mind.

But for some reason still, I could not access recovery mode! What I ended up doing was installing an older version of Mac OS X by DVD (Snow Leopard is what I used).

The install would fail, but it would set up a recovery partition. The recovery partition gave me access to the internet recovery option, which I in turn used to install the original operating system!

Getting the Snow Leopard DVD ISO isn't too difficult.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .