I've formatted my newly bought SSD and did a clean install of Snow Leopard from the install CD I got with my MacBook.

Snow Leopard installed just fine and everything works, but when I try to upgrade to Lion from the App Store, I get an error saying

Mac OS X can't be installed on the disk Macintosh HD, because a recovery system can't be created. Visit www.apple.com/support/no-recovery to learn more.

Is there any way around this? What can I do other than just cloning my old HDD to the SSD?

4 Answers 4


when installing Snow Leopard did you delete and create partitions on the disk using the Disk Utilities as part of the installer, or did you install direct onto the pre formatted SSD?

If the answer to the second question is yes, then a new install of Snow Leopard on the SSD, but this time delete all existing partition data and allow SL to create the partitioning and install onto the SSD from there will allow you to update to Lion without that error.

  • Stu is correct. If you want to skip a step and have an extra 8GB flash drive lying around, you can also create a Lion installer on it, do the reinstalling from there and skip installing Snow Leopard! All you need to do is right click on the Lion installer from the App Store, click Show Package Contents and find the Mac OS X Install ESD.dmg file. This is an image of the lion installer you can restore to a flash drive using the Disk Utility restore function. Either this way or Stu's will work, whichever is easier for you.
    – Matt Love
    Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 18:21
  • I tried to create a bootable repair flash disk using the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant support.apple.com/kb/dl1433 but it still doesn't allow me to continue with the installation. Looks like I'm going to have to reformat the disk and try once again. Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 20:00
  • I just tried to delete all the partitions, but it won't allow me to install on a disk with no paritions. So I guess I just make one big Mac OS Extended (Journaled) parition taking up the whole disk and format it? Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 20:14

Make sure you've formatted your SSD as a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition and that your partition map is GUID Partition Table.

Try just having the one Macintosh HD partition on your SSD, the Lion Recovery HD can be pretty hateful of drives with multiple partitions and a Master Boot Record partition map.

Good Luck!


Do you have an external HD Case? If so plug in your old computer's HD, you should be able to boot from it, if not there is an emergency boot partition that is hidden. Hold down the option key and attempt to boot from there. From there you should be able to format the SSD from the Emergency boot disk.

If you don't want to go that route, then I'd suggest to format the SSD as explained before as an Mac OS Extended Partition. From there you should be able to install Lion fresh.

If not, I'll help where I can.


If you have used Time Machine on Lion you can use that backup to install Lion as well. Connect the drive and it will be a bootable drive which will install the recovery partition on the SSD. The from the recovery you install lion with no need for SL.

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