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I'm replacing the hard drive in my 2009 macbook (13" unibody). How do I go about installing OSX and can I go straight to Yosemite or do I have to install Mavericks and then upgrade? It's my first attempt at replacing a hard drive so I've no idea what to expect. Thanks all!

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    Alternative to posted answer: create a bootable installer drive, replace your HDD, then boot the Mac from the installer and install on the new HDD. – Arc676 Nov 7 '15 at 12:52
  • Does your Mac boot now? If not, perhaps that needs to be added so that people know not to suggest the straight forward route of making a USB installer of the OS of choice. Also, do you have a backup or budget for a $5 adapter to let you connect the new drive over USB to prepare it properly and assist with the data migration? – bmike Nov 7 '15 at 13:33
  • No it doesn't boot properly. I can get into recovery mode but when I tried several times to clean the HDD and reinstall...nothing... so new HDD. Thanks for your answer. – CedarFowler Nov 9 '15 at 9:32
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You can use the drivers CD present in the MacBook box at the time of acquisition. Following the steps you can instal an old version and then update to the last one. Otherwise there should be the possibility of start a recovery and directly download (using a WiFi connection) the last versione of the OS.

An other option is to use Time Machine, if and only if, you have previously made a backup of the entire system before the swap of HD.

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  • I didn't get a Cd with mine so will try to buy a bootable usb on ebay, might be easiest for me... – CedarFowler Nov 9 '15 at 9:35
  • @CedarFowler sure, anyway it's not necessary buy a boot-able USB on ebay. I think you can easily create your own (you need only an empty USB pen-drive) with this application UNetbootin and following some online tutorial!! – rebatoma Nov 9 '15 at 10:26
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The more recent versions of OS X include a software called Recovery Disk Assistant. You need

  • an empty USB disk or stick of sufficient capacity (8 GB or more)
  • the OS X install disk image for Yosemite
  • and the software, which you can also download if you don't find it in your Utilities folder within the Applications folder.

Alternatively, use the terminal and the createinstallmedia command as described in this Apple Support link.

If your MacBook has an SD card slot, you can also create the recovery disk on an SD card. Just be aware that all previous content is lost when you let Recovery Disk Assistant loose on the volume.

If you are missing the OS X Yosemite install disk image, visit the past purchases tab in the App Store - it should be right there.

Make your recovery disk, then reboot with the new hard drive and the USB recovery volume in place and install Yosemite. The web holds plenty of detailed instruction for the process:

Youtube link

If you want to faithfully recreate all content of your current disk, make a TimeMachine Backup, or hook up your old disk and wait for the prompt after booting the newly installed system first to install your old files.

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    This information is true, but quite out dated. Lion recovery is no longer a good option. I would edit that to just use the Mac to download the Yosemite installer the OP wants and then link to how to use createinstallmedia to make a full installer USB and not just the minimal recovery shell for maintenance. apple.stackexchange.com/questions/106088 – bmike Nov 7 '15 at 13:32

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