I am trying to restore a new SSD I placed into my MBP using a Time Machine backup on an external HD. In order to do this, I read I need to be able to go into recovery mode as I boot my system up. To do this, I am supposed to press ⌘ Command R at startup. This is not working.

First, I realized that there isn't any startup chimes when I restart my MBP. I followed this thread to reset the NVRAM, and it seemed to work as I did get two chimes during this process. Now when I restart, I hear the chime. However, after pressing ⌘ Command R as I load my system, I still cannot get into recovery mode. Instead, as before, I am going directly to my logon screen.

What can be wrong?

2 Answers 2


Your MacBook is too old to use Internet Recovery. You will need to reinstall from the restore discs that shipped with your Mac, a retail copy of a 10.6 DVD or a Mavericks USB installer (created on another Mac).

If you still have access to the drive that was replaced you could put it in a USB enclosure and boot from that, then go through the Mavericks install routine, selecting your new SSD as the destination.

To build a USB installer from the Mavericks/Yosemite installer application you can use 3rd-party utilities or follow this procedure...

Download the Mavericks/Yosemite installer but quit it when it tries to run.

Take an 8GB USB stick and name it Untitled.

Then run this command in Terminal (replace both instances of Mavericks to Yosemite if using 10.10 install application)...

/Applications/"Install OS X Mavericks.app"/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/"Install OS X Mavericks.app" --nointeraction
  • I doubt the USB method will work on a Mac with an optical drive. Have never got it to work on mine, best I can get is to build a bootable HD on another machine
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 25, 2015 at 12:27
  • The USB method works on all Intel Macs, assuming the installer has been created correctly. 10.7 and 10.8 installers can be created by opening the package contents of the installer app, and using the Disk Utility Restore function to copy the contents of Install.ESD in SharedSupport to a USB drive. I've not had any problems creating USB installers since the first generation of Intel Macs. Feb 25, 2015 at 12:56
  • It sounds like I have to do an internet recovery? I was hoping I could just cleanly restore from my hd time machine backup (which works fine since I'm using it to boot from now) without having to involve the internet. Your method looks like I would be rebuilding from scratch. Are you suggestion I won't be able to restore from my backup at all? Feb 25, 2015 at 16:22
  • My advice is to create a Mavericks USB installer, using the above instructions (8GB USB stick required). Then, boot your Mac from the installer and perform a clean install. At the end of the install process you will be prompted to migrate your data from a variety of possible sources, including Time Machine backups. At this point you can select your TM backup and your old profile will then be migrated to your SSD. If you don't have a USB stick available download (if necessary) the Mavericks installer from the App Store and run setup from there. Feb 25, 2015 at 16:32
  • It ended up working (was able to get into recovery mode) when I connected my original hard drive externally to the USB port of my laptop directly. I also had an ethernet cord hooked up. Feb 28, 2015 at 1:21

Summarizing some info I got from ifixit while I was trying to solve the same problem for my early 2008 15" Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro (MacbookPro4,1):

  • Check hard drive cable connection, possibly replace it (can be purchased from ebay, amazon, ifixit store)
  • Sometimes the SATA connection is not secure. Place a thin layer of masking tape on the SATA connector (opposite side of the pins) to get a more secure connection to the cable
  • Drive could be bad/damaged, try replacing it with a known good drive (remember to format it as Mac OS Journaled first)
  • SMC reset, NVRAM reset

Ultimately, I was able to get my drive to be detected in recovery mode by plugging it into an external USB SATA dock. This suggests I had some problem with the physical connection to the drive or logic board.

You also might try booting while holding Option instead of ⌘ Command+R. According to Apple's documentation this will bring you into the Startup Manager which should allow you to view the available disks.

  • Hi mumrah, and welcome to Ask Different! On this site, we try to get the best answers to our questions, so simply having a link is considered low-quality. If you could elaborate and explain the steps that are in the link in your answer, that would be greatly appreciated. Happy answering! Jun 20, 2017 at 14:22
  • Keep in mind there could be multiple reasons for not being able to boot into recovery and a drive not being recognized is just one. Also, you want to put the main points of your answer here because link only answers often go stale making it useless.
    – Allan
    Jun 20, 2017 at 14:40
  • Thanks! I've updated my comment with more details from the linked discussion.
    – mumrah
    Jun 21, 2017 at 15:31

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