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I have a 13" 2012 non-retina MacBook Pro that I intend on upgrading with a Samsung Evo 850 SSD. I have watched some tutorials and for the most part, I think I know what to do on the hardware side of things but I have two questions for the software side after the disk has been successfully installed.

Question 1. Can I use the recovery menu (accessed by hitting command + r on boot) to both format, and install a version of MacOS?

Question 2. If so, do I need to initialize the disk before installing it? Or can I literally unbox the SSD, install it in my MBP, and then format/install MacOS via recovery?

  • I would recommend you boot from the recovery menu once to see what all the options are. I also recommend that you place your old drive in a USB 3 or Thunderbolt enclosure and boot off of that to use as the installer on your new drive as the version of MacOS that may be available via the recovery menu is going to be a much older one. – CyberSkull Dec 3 '17 at 2:11
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What you do depends on how you want to setup your Mac. More specifically, do you want to just do a totally clean installation of macOS, or do you want to migrate your existing setup (including users/data) across to the SSD?

Regardless, you will need to format the SSD first. Probably the easiest way to proceed is to connect it to your Mac via an external enclosure and then use Disk Utility to format it.

If you haven't got an external enclosure (or another way to connect the SSD), then you could insert the SSD into the MacBook and opt to run macOS Recovery from the Internet. To do this, hold down OptionCommandR (or, if that doesn't work, try ShiftOptionCommandR).

NOTE: If you proceed this way then:

  • It may be worth you testing to make sure you can boot into macOS Recovery from the internet prior to going to the trouble of physically installing the SSD into your MacBook.
  • The only way to migrate all your data is if you have a Time Machine backup on an external disk (i.e. if you don't have a TM backup and want to keep your current setup, then you will need to either make a TM backup first, or have a way of connecting the SSD or the internal drive to your Mac for migrating the data across).

Regardless, once booted into macOS Recovery, run Disk Utility to format the SSD.

Once it’s formatted you can install macOS, but how you proceed will depend on how you want to setup your Mac. More specifically, do you want to just do a totally clean installation of macOS and then install software etc as you need, or do you want to migrate your existing setup (including users/data) from a Time Machine backup?

If you're planning to migrate data from a Time Machine backup, then take a look at How to use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac.

  • Thank you for the detailed reply. I do not wish to transfer over anything from my other mac. I'd like to do a fresh install. When you say "test to make sure you can boot into MacOS recovery" do you just mean try booting into the recovery menu right now? I have done so and that shouldn't be an issue. It sounds like I'll be okay then. All I need to do is install, go to MacOS recovery, format the drive, and then install MacOS. – ClarkTheCoder Dec 3 '17 at 3:05
  • Well, what I mean is that if you remove the current internal drive, then there is no macOS Recovery partition stored locally anymore. If that's the case, the only way to boot from macOS Recovery is to do it from the Internet. So, by testing to see if you can do that without any problems, I'm suggesting you manually do that beforehand as a test (i.e. by using the keyboard shortcuts in my answer). This will take a little time (it is over the internet after all), but it's probably more convenient then installing the SSD and then finding for some reason you actually can't boot via the internet. :) – Monomeeth Dec 3 '17 at 3:08
  • Excellent. I ended up just cloning the drive but I appreciate your advice. – ClarkTheCoder Dec 4 '17 at 13:04

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