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I'm getting 3 year old MacBook Pro with no HD (surplus from the company I work for). I don't have a Mac of any sort to do the install/restore/etc like most other answers to this question assume. I have a Windows PC, and will get a new blank internal SATA drive to put into the MacBook Pro. I also have a 1TB external USB drive, if that helps.

How do I purchase and install the latest compatible OS on this new-old MacBook?

  • Welcome to Ask Different :) Kindly edit the question and specify the make and model of the MacBook Pro that you are to receive. – Nimesh Neema Nov 26 '18 at 15:52
  • Press Cmd-Option-R while booting and it will download the installer for you. – Allan Nov 26 '18 at 16:25
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How do I purchase and install the latest compatible OS on this new-old MacBook?

The recent versions of macOS are available for free of cost to install and download from Apple (starting with OS X Mavericks 10.9).

The easiest way to install macOS onto a blank hard disk in your MacBook Pro would be via Internet recovery.

Refer to the Apple Support article, About macOS Recovery to get instructions on how to install macOS over the Internet.

The availability of Internet recovery and the latest supported OS will depend on the make and model of your MacBook Pro.

  • "3 year old MacBook Pro" should be fine. – gnasher729 Nov 26 '18 at 19:50
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If your mac is 3 years old, then it likely has special storage on the machine containing the last version of the operating system that it used. It exists specifically for instances where you need to reinstall the OS, and it cannot be wiped. It replaces the old method where you had to have a CD or some other copy present. (I'm pretty sure it is stored independently of the HD, but I could be wrong.)

To reinstall the OS from the special storage inside your machine, boot to Recovery Mode:

  1. Turn on the mac
  2. While it is booting up, hold Command+R until the Apple logo shows up
  3. You will see a loading bar under the Apple logo
  4. Once the screen loads, you will see a window with four options
  5. Click the second one down – "Reinstall macOS"
  6. That will wipe the hard drive (whatever may exist on yours), installing a fresh version of whatever the latest OS was.

If that fails, you can install the OS from over the internet:

  1. Turn on the mac
  2. While it is booting up, hold Command+SHIFT+R until the Apple logo shows up
  3. You will see a spinning globe for a while
  4. Once the screen loads, you will see a window with four options
  5. Click the second one down – "Reinstall macOS"
  6. That will wipe the hard drive (whatever may exist on yours), installing whatever version of macOS your computer shipped with from the factory (it will be a 3 year old version) You need internet access for this to work.

Final Step: Once any OS is installed, you can open the app store, and search for "Mojave OS" to download what is currently the latest macOS.

Like I said I don't think any of that requires a HD but please ignore me if I'm wrong. Good luck!

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Very easy. Should help. Watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K82njigCTA

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