So a week ago I was told on this website that if I wanted to make my Mac (MacBook Pro early 2011, 13") really faster, I should replace my HDD with an SSD. And I'm about to buy this Samsung SSD. But one question went threw my mind.

After I physically install the SSD in the computer, how do I install the OS? I want to do a fresh install, but will there be a menu that asks me what I want to do with this new SSD, whether I want to import data from my old hard drive, or completely reinstall an OS?

I think I will need a USB stick with the El Capitan installer, but how will I proceed next?

1 Answer 1


If your HDD is still mounted you can download El Capitan from the Apple App Store and create a USB installer thumb drive:

  1. Download the OS X installer from the Mac App Store. Quit the installer if it opens automatically after downloading. The installer will be in your Applications folder.
  2. Mount your USB flash drive or other volume. You could also use a secondary internal partition. Partition the thumb drive with Disk Utility: one partition, Mac OS X Extended Journaled and GUID partition table and rename it (e.g. MyVolume).
  3. Open the Terminal app, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  4. Use the createinstallmedia command in Terminal to create the bootable installer. Examples of this command are in the next section. For detailed usage instructions, make sure that the appropriate Install OS X app is in your Applications folder, then enter one of the following paths in Terminal:

    #with MyVolume: the name of your USB thumb drive volume
    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app
  5. Shutdown your Mac and replace the hard drive.
  6. Boot your Mac - you may have to hold the alt/opt and choose the installer thumb drive as boot volume. Sometimes this doesn't work on the first attempt. Just reboot again!
  7. Partition the SSD with Disk Utility which is included in the installer thumb drive(AFAIR in the menubar -> Utilities): one partition, Mac OS X Extended Journaled and GUID partition table and rename it (e.g. Macintosh HD). Quit Disk Utility and install El Capitan.

If you already attached the SSD you can use Internet Recovery Mode (hold cmdR or altcmdR while booting) to first partition the new internal drive and then restore the original system (10.7 Lion). Then - after configuring Lion - you can to upgrade to El Capitan. This is not recommended because it takes at least twice the time/download.

  • In step 7, you said I had to partition the SSD. Is it what you do when you have to make a Hard drive/Solid state drive "compatible" with the rest of the computer ? How do you do that ?
    – tomfl
    Mar 12, 2016 at 17:43
  • So that means Disk Utility will already be on the SSD when I buy it ?
    – tomfl
    Mar 12, 2016 at 17:49
  • Ah ok ! One last little question : after step 6 (where I select the installer), when I boot my Mac for the first time with the SSD, after holding the alt key, will there be a menu showing up or a strange terminal/console ? Oh yeah, and which format will I have to choose for the partition ?
    – tomfl
    Mar 12, 2016 at 17:56
  • Don't forget to manually enable TRIM if your SSD supports it. osxdaily.com/2015/10/29/use-trimforce-trim-ssd-mac-os-x Dec 1, 2017 at 21:40

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