I've just followed the steps here to try to format my wife's laptop so we can sell it: https://superuser.com/questions/959422/reinstall-os-x-without-cd-dvd-or-apple-id

Unfortunately I'm still getting a message saying "to download and restore OS X, your computer's eligibility will be verified with Apple" and when I proceed further in the installation, it says "signing in to App Store" and there is nothing I can do but sign in.

It's my understanding that the Apple ID needs to have the relevant OS X paid updates (so in this case, El Capitan) so if we sell it in this state, wheover logs in with their own Apple ID won't be able to use it.

Any suggestions on how to restore it back to it's original state? Many thanks

  • 1
    Where did you hear that? Generally, OS X upgrades are free (since Mavericks anyway) and doing a software update from one AppleID doesn't weld the computer to that AppleID. Heck, you could just create another admin user in Control Panel/Accounts, do your updates from that admin user, then delete the user. Aug 18, 2019 at 23:20
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    Anyone else originally think the title referred to trying to install Cheetah onto a modern-day Macbook?
    – Vikki
    Aug 19, 2019 at 1:21
  • 2
    @Sean That’s why I clicked on it 🙃 Aug 19, 2019 at 3:25

3 Answers 3


FIRST: Please read What to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your Mac on Apple's website.

As for your question, it doesn't state what model MacBook you're trying to sell, so it's not clear if Mac OS X El Capitan is the original OS it shipped with.

However, your best bet is to boot into macOS Recovery using the ShiftOptionR keyboard shortcut. This keyboard shortcut is designed to install the version of macOS that originally shipped with your Mac.*

To do this:

  1. Fully shut down your Mac
  2. Power up your Mac again but immediately press and hold the ShiftOptionR
  3. Keep the keys down until you see either an Apple logo or spinning globe appear on screen (Note: If you have a firmware password set on your system, then let go of the keys when the password prompt appears)
  4. Once the Utilities window appears you'll be in macOS Recovery Mode

Now choose to reinstall macOS and follow the prompts.

* For users of older Mac models this option will install the closest version of macOS still available to the original that shipped with it.

  • Thank you so much, it's an old white MacBook but pressing Shift, Alt, Cmd & R just brings me to the El Capitan installer again. Am I right in thinking the Alt key is the same as Option? To be honest it's not worth a lot so I think I'll just donate it to a local computer charity - at least it's wiped
    – Nick
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:01
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    A white MacBook would be at latest an '09 & would have shipped with 10.5 [on a CD]. The newest OS it can run is 10.11 - therefore it may not be capable of running the newer Cmd/Opt/Shift/R recovery method, which I think was introduced with Sierra. IIRC, reinstalling from 'local' Recovery, Cmd/R, over a wiped partition will allow you to shut down before you need to sign into the new installation, using the last OS that was already installed. See support.apple.com/HT208496
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:18
  • Thank you, I've tried the regular Cmd/R local recovery but I get the same thing - it asks me to sign in before installing :(
    – Nick
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:26
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    Thank you, there is no globe but if I turn off WiFi it says "OS X can't be reinstalled because you aren't connected to the internet." - so I'm guessing there is no local recovery partition sadly :(
    – Nick
    Aug 18, 2019 at 12:20
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    Now that we know what MacBook you're referring to I agree with what @Tetsujin has been saying. And, since you've also established you don't have a local recovery partition, plus (reading between the lines here) you don't have an original OS X installation disk (either the one it shipped with or a retail version of another (e.g. Snow Leopard), then another option may be to use another Mac to install an OS onto it. So, do you have access to another Mac? If so, which model? If none of these are options for you, then Steve Chambers' answer is another way you could proceed.
    – Monomeeth
    Aug 18, 2019 at 23:47

As recovery mode is not available on that Mac, your best bet might be to restore with whatever you can any way you can, Then...

Once the Mac is up and running, download a version of macOS that will run on that Mac. Just the installer, don't run it just leave it in /Applications. If it STARTS to install just quit the installer.

Then use a utility like DiskmakerX to create a bootable installer on an 8GB flash drive. There are other ways to make a bootable installer but this is still my favorite.

Once you have the bootable installer you can boot from the flash drive, wipe the drive of the MacBook and install macOS clean with no AppleID associated with it.

I've done this a few times and it works a treat.

  • To make an installer for 10.7 or later you don't need a third party utility but can use createinstallmedia as described here (and probably elsewhere if you search).
    – nekomatic
    Aug 19, 2019 at 14:02
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    Yah, I know, that's why I said DiskMakerX was still my favorite. If I can avoid the command line I will. Also when recommending a solution I have found that people often find the shell a bit intimidating. I know lots of people who don't even know that their Mac has a command line. And besides the 3rd pary utility is FREE. So why not! Aug 19, 2019 at 20:01
  • All fair points!
    – nekomatic
    Aug 20, 2019 at 8:34

Message To download and restore OS X, your computer's eligibility will be verified with Apple when installing older versions of Mac OS X for me every time meant only one: The certificate which is being used in the OS has expired. This will be correct for every OS later in the future (Sierra, High Sierra, etc).

The workaround is that simple: just change the date to when OS was released or just a bit later (for instance on the date of the last update for this version).

You don't need Apple ID to install OS X (you may log in during the installation process but it's totally optional).

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