What I'd like to do is get my MBP back to an "out of the box state": fresh install, recovery partition. However, I believe my partition is for OS as it was on October 2013. What I'd like is a fresh install of newest version and recovery partition being an installer for newest version. At time of writing, El Capitan.

What steps would I go about to have a fresh El Capitan install and an El Capitan recovery partition.


Factory fresh isn't something you can actually do even though apple calls a wipe and reinstall "reset to factory"

  1. Apple installs special builds of iLife and iWork on some factory builds that then check in with the serial number of the Mac to grant those "purchases" to one Apple ID.
  2. The core OS doesn't install these apps, so if you erase and install your OS, it will be a clean OS install, but you'll then need to handle downloading iWork and iLife from the Mac App Store per the link I provided above to Apple's support site.

If you're OK with that - here's your procedure to erase and install the latest OS on your Mac:

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  • will give this a shot (I'm fine with downloading Pages, Numbers, etc. from Store). Does this generate a recovery partition on the hard drive as well? – Robert Oct 29 '15 at 18:19
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    @Robert it sure does. Break a leg! – bmike Oct 29 '15 at 18:37
  • finally got around to backing up and doing this. Worked (missing the El Capitan recovery partition but I have it on USB so I guess it is okay) – Robert Nov 30 '15 at 15:37
  • @Robert glad you're half way there. If you wanted to live dangerously and try the reinstallation again, here's the syntax to split the main partition during an erase to create the recovery partition. diskutil splitPartition disk8s2 JHFS+ MacHD R %Apple_Boot% %noformat% %recovery% - you'll need to change the names on disk8s2 and MacHD to match your situation, but you might get success or an intelligent error message why your drive isn't making the recovery if that error already isn't logged to /var/log/install.log or such... – bmike Nov 30 '15 at 16:39
  • Download OS X from the App Store and create a USB Installer.
  • Boot the Mac from the OS X USB Installer and use Disk Utility to create a single Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition and then install OS X.
  • After the installation and the setup of the first user were finished boot to Recovery Mode
  • Disable System Integrity Protection with csrutil disable entered in Terminal.app
  • Reboot to Single User Mode and enter /sbin/fsck -fy and /sbin/mount -uw /
  • Remove the first user ($user) from the local directory db with dscl and its user folder /Users/$user with rm (hint)
  • Remove the file .AppleSetupDone with rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone
  • Reboot to Recovery Mode and reenable System Integrity Protection with csrutil enable
  • Finally shut down the Mac
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  • Good work on the clean method! I'll add the nuke and pave option Apple recommends as a separate answer. This is far more fun than starting over and if you don't learn something, you can always nuke and pave after doing this. – bmike Oct 29 '15 at 15:52

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