I’m helping someone with their old laptop (17”, mid-2009, if that matters). I restarted with cmdR to load OSX Utilities, and I used Disk Utility to wipe Macintosh HD, overwriting it three times and formatted as OS X Extended (Journaled).

Afterwards, after successfully connecting to my Wi-Fi, I clicked on Reinstall OS X, and it’s giving me the option to set up El Capitan (the OS X that’s installed, and from what I can tell, the latest that can be installed). But when I hit continue, it gives me an error message:

An error occurred while preparing the installation. Try running this application again.

I get the same message every time I try. So I thought I’d try quitting OS X Utilities without reinstalling OS X and see what happens.

After clicking on Choose Startup Disk, I get a blank list to choose from, with a restart button. No startup disks are available. Clicking restart, as one might expect, yields the following error message:

You can’t change the startup disk to the selected disk.

Startup Disk could not gather enough information on the selected disk.

So I quit Startup Disk and went back to Disk Utility, and I tried running First Aid on both Macintosh HD and OS X Base System. Neither one had any issues.

So what is my issue? Did I mess up when wiping the hard drive? Do I just need to reformat it? Is there anything I can do, or have I rendered this computer a hunk of junk? Also, how do I prevent this in the future?

  • The (re)installation of macOS failed. You need to reattempt it.
    – Allan
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 22:39
  • @Allan As I mentioned in the OP, no matter how many times I try that option, it won’t let me.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 23:25
  • See this post: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/309399/…
    – Allan
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 23:49
  • @Allan Doesn’t help since I can’t open the App Store.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 23:51
  • Read the whole thing...down near the bottom.
    – Allan
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 23:56

3 Answers 3


Well, your having wiped and reformatted the HD, there IS no bootable volume on that machine, so that HD cannot be selected as a bootable startup disk, as it has NO data on it at all, let alone a full Mac OS with which to boot.

You'll need to see about getting that OS installer downloaded set up as an ISO on optical media using a different machine to do this, and then running the installer on the target machine from the optical media I think, given the issues you're seeing when trying the network install option.

  • I’m not sure I understand the second paragraph. By optical media, I assume you mean a CD? How am I supposed to access remote disc?
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 18:21
  • Also, would you please take a look at the OP and see if you can address the last question I just asked?
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 18:50
  • AFAIK, the 17" MacBook Pro from 2009 (I owned one) had a slot-loading "superdrive" optical drive in the right-hand side of the case... you will need to download the relevant OS X Installer, clearly this will require using a different machine to do so, you will need to convert the installer dmg to an ISO before burning it to a DVD so that it reads as a contiguous self-executing volume, and then once you've burned this DVD, you should be able to load that DVD into the slot-drive and run the installer. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 18:55
  • You could take this machine to an Apple store and ask them to install the newest OS it can handle, and this would remove the load from you, and leave the connection details, disk image etc to them. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 18:57
  • Well, as far as errors go, wiping and reformatting the only HD on a machine and then wanting to declare that a startup disk without having first actually installed a bootable OS on it does count pretty highly as a "mess up" yes. That does not render the machine "junk", it simply means there's no currently bootable volume. Install an OS and it should be fine, absent any other issues. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 18:58

Try to restart with alt cmd R. In the OS X Utilities, the Reinstall OS X option, installs the most upgraded and compatible OS for your MAC model. It worked for me (no need to change the date and boot off line from external drive).


You need to close the startup window through top bar navigation

After that you will have options to re-install MacOS through the Internet

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .