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I recently purchased a MacBook (Mid-2009), but the hard drive is empty, no OS X and etc. I want to download the Install OS X El Capitan.app and install it, but I don't have any other Mac hardware to do that with. What should I do?

  1. Go to Apple Store and purchase the install disc?
  2. My friend has iMac and ask him if he could download the installer and make the USB Installer?
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  • Does internet recovery work? I don't know if it supports that model
    – user173581
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 14:37

3 Answers 3

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There is no OS X El Capitan install disk. OS X is distributed through the App Store now.

Yes, ask your friend to create a bootable installer for OS X El Capitan. It should be a fairly straightforward process.

Once you have the drive, hold down the option key while restarting your Mac to boot from the installer USB.

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  • This would be far easier than my solution - but it's not really helpful if " i don't have any other Mac hardware" means access to hardware as opposed to "personally own and have ready next to me" :-) +1 nonetheless since it's the most straightforward to the newest OS that should run on 2009 hardware.
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 20:48
  • Yeah, I just figured asking a friend who has a Mac would be much simpler than contacting Apple Support to have an older OS X install disk shipped over (which could take a while) and then downloading/upgrading to El Capitan.
    – victorlin
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 20:52
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Apple will ship physical media (at a cost) and/or support you for free online to get the steps to reinstall the OS that shipped with that Mac.

Newer hardware support internet recovery, but I would start with this support article to see which OS your Mac would get from Apple if you contacted them at https://apple.com/support

Most 2009 Macs shipped with 10.6 so you'd probably be better off buying a second hand copy of Snow Leopard DVD and then upgrading to 10.6.8 that gets you the Mac App Store. At that point, you could download Lion or a newer OS and then make a recovery USB installer and not need the DVD evermore.

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You can use Diskmaker. It will let you create a bootable USB disk and then install OS X.

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