My friend has a Mid 2010 Macbook pro with Mac OS X Lion installed on it. She wants to restore it (as in format/erase and get a fresh start). However she does not have any disks.

When trying to restore using the CMD+R option during the boot process she is asked to sign in with her account but then a message saying she does not have OS X Lion purchased under her account prevents her from continuing with the installation. Is there a way to buy this online so she can proceed?

Also, she has the Recovery Partition in her HD so going back to Leopard/Snow Leopard is also an option. Is it possible? How?

Any hints on how to proceed without having to get an actual physical media is appreciated.


  • The important question is whether or not her MacBook Pro came with Lion from Apple. It is totally unsupported to downgrade the OS past what the computer came with. You might still be able to do it with some hacks.
    – sudo
    Jul 7, 2014 at 23:08
  • There is no recovery partition for Snow Leopard. If there is a recovery partition on the HD, then booting into it should allow you to reinstall Lion.
    – Kent
    Jul 7, 2014 at 23:10
  • 1
    You can buy it at Apple Store for $20. store.apple.com/us/product/MC573Z/A/mac-os-x-106-snow-leopard
    – Ruskes
    Jul 7, 2014 at 23:17
  • You can also create a Lion Recovery USB drive from a working Mac.
    – Maximus
    Mar 28, 2018 at 13:45
  • Or just create a USB installer using diskmakerx.com Here is the Lion Recovery download link support.apple.com/kb/DL1433?locale=en_GB
    – Maximus
    Mar 28, 2018 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


There are two possible solutions from my limited knowledge:

First method

Install the OS X Recovery Disc Assistant on a USB drive and reinstall Lion.

From the OS X Recovery Disc Assistant guide:

To create an external OS X Recovery, download the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant application. Insert an external drive, launch the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant, select the drive where you would like to install, and follow the on screen instructions.

When the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant completes, the new partition will not be visible in the Finder or Disk Utility. To access OS X Recovery, reboot the computer while holding the Option key. Select Recovery HD from the Startup Manager.

If her Recovery partition won't let you install already, I'm guessing there's a chance this might fail, but it's a least free to test and see.

Second method

Buy OSX Lion from Apple.

OS X Lion is still sold by Apple, so you could just buy a new disc and install using it.


Once you have upgraded your Macintosh's operating system there is no going back without already owning an official CD or a backup of the operating system available.

You are going to have to buy a complete new CD from the shops as said above are quite cheap so you may want to consider checking your local store.

Also I am running on a Late-2009 iMac so your friend running a 2010 model MacBook Pro should be able to upgrade to OS X 10.9 Mavericks for free from the App Store which is even better than Lion.

  • 2
    It's not true that once you've upgraded to a newer OS you can't go back.
    – Maximus
    Mar 28, 2018 at 13:43

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