My old mac's hdd died. It's dead. So I got a ssd and installed it in the macbook.

Now how do I get El Capitan on there? I find lots of tips online that speak of creating a bootable USB drive from the Capitan installer. But I can't download the El Capitan from the appstore because the mac has got nothing to boot from.

On my newer macbook running Catalina, I also cannot download El Capitan from the appstore because it doesn't show up when searching for it.

What I did download is El Capitan's InstallMacOSX.dmg via https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206886

But now I need to run/open this on the old mac with the fresh ssd.

I feel I'm stuck in a loop. I need a working OS to install an OS.....

Who can help me out here?

  • Let me test with El Capitan, and I will share with you the results. I have done with High Sierra on the latest Catalina one.
    – Udhy
    Dec 13, 2019 at 16:14
  • 1
    Even without a Recovery partition, you should be able to use Internet Recovery - it's in the firmware, not on disk.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 13, 2019 at 16:17
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    Like @Tetsujin said, Internet Recovery still works. If you hold COMMAND-OPTION-R at startup you should get the latest build of macOS your mac supports Dec 13, 2019 at 18:49
  • It's a macbookpro5,4 from mid 2009. It has no internet recovery. Dec 14, 2019 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


You said you downloaded the installer. Did you download it to another Mac? If so, mount the .DMG, copy the install file to the Applications folder, then follow this documentation:


Once the new SSD is installed, and you've created the bootable USB drive - insert USB drive into the Mac, start it up holding the alt (option) key, and select the Install El Captian drive.

Format the SSD from Disk Utility, then install.

  • Like I stated in my question, the download I was able to do was for "InstallMacOSX.dmg". That's not the same as the version downloaded from the appstore and used in the support link you gave.... It contains a InstallMacOSX.pkg file which itself contains InstallESD.dmg, but no createinstallmedia can be found.... Dec 14, 2019 at 15:33

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