I'm passing my old 2012 macbook onto my dad and I'm reinstalling Mountain Lion to wipe everything clean, but I'm encountering some problems in doing so.

The installation downloads everything correctly then fails with one of the following errors:

  • "Installation failed. The installer encountered an error which caused the installation to fail"

  • "OS X cannot be installed on the disk, because a recovery system can't be created"

I am using the Internet recovery system and have tried the following:

  • Resetting PRAM.

  • Erasing the disk using the disk utility.

  • Erasing the disk, then removing the recovery system using the terminal.

  • Erasing the disk, then shrinking the partition by 1GB

There seems to be windows files like boot.ini popping up here and there during disk repair, and there are a total of 12 listed partitions when "diskutil list" is executed.

Does anyone have any idea what's up, what I can try next, and what my options are if the disk is dead?

This has to be the most stressful and frustrating tech repair I have ever done, so any and all help is appreciated - thank you!!

  • I would create a Mountain Lion installer on a USB thumb drive (use the free DiskMakerX, or others). Open disk utility before beginning the install and remove everything you can and make one big partition. And you may want to set the clock back a couple of years, that first error may be a certificate error which I have run into from time to time. – Steve Chambers Jul 16 at 0:00
  • You can open a log window during installation with Command-L or choosing Window menu > Installer log (you may have to mouse up to the top of the screen to get a menu bar to appear). By default, it'll show Errors Only, but you can switch it to show everything to see what led up to the actual failure (often more informative than the eventual error). – Gordon Davisson Jul 16 at 0:26
  • BTW, if you're in Recovery mode, you'll see a bunch of extra disks and volumes that aren't "real" -- they're various sorts of virtual disks that're part of the Recovery mode. See my answer here. – Gordon Davisson Jul 16 at 0:29
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    Why go all the way back to Mountain Lion? Lots of current software (Apps) won’t run on such an old version of macOS. It’s capable of running High Sierra - why not install that? You’ll avoid a ton of “support calls” from your dad about software compatabikity. – Allan Jul 16 at 2:50
  • Thanks for all the help! Thanks Gordon, the extra disks were throwing me off. I combo'd the other advice together (thanks Steve and Allan) and created a boot disk for High Sierra which looked promising, until I received the "macOS could not be installed on your computer" error. Anyone have any ideas please? – Sam Stanford Jul 17 at 12:43

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