Old MacBook Pro (mid-2011) running OS X Sierra was out of commission as the power supply had gone bad. I got a new power supply and fired it up. I was greeted with a warning from Chrome that it would no longer be updated unless I updated the OS. Trying to stream something, got an error about enabling DRM, which apparently needs the newer Chrome version.

According to Apple support pages this machine should be able to run High Sierra.

I downloaded the High Sierra installer and ran it. After about an hour, it exited and said the OS could not be installed. It said I could restart, or I could restart and hold the D key to run diagnostics. I did the diagnostic restart, ran all the tests, and it said it identified no issues.

When I restarted though, I quickly got a kernel panic, and then it just went in a reboot-panic-reboot loop. So I booted to internet recovery. It brings up the screen that says click to continue setting up High Sierra, but then a few seconds later I get a dialog box saying "The recovery server could not be contacted".

I verified that it was connected to the internet (it's on the same wi-fi I'm using to post this) and I also used the terminal to reset the system time...no difference. I've been hitting continue periodically for the last several hours and I always get the same message.

I ran the disk utility and it said there were no issues. I also used the network utility to verify that I can ping google, so it appears the network connection is working. I checked the Apple server status page and they seem to indicate everything is up and running.

So what else can I try? This machine does not appear to have a recovery partition on the disc. Probably a remnant of it being a dual apple/windows machine some years back.

  • JerH - do you have another Mac you can work with? If so, what OS is it running? Or a Windows PC?
    – Tetsujin
    May 23, 2023 at 17:15
  • @Thinkr - we can probably lose it. Sierra just can't find the store, so we have to go another way round. There are some tricks, but it may depend what machine we have to work with. I'm still trying hard to keep apple.stackexchange.com/q/309399/85275 curated, but our own David Anderson has some brilliant methods for a lot of this, some of which I've linked from there
    – Tetsujin
    May 23, 2023 at 17:17
  • 1
    [cont'd] It's linked from my answer posted above. OSes up to Sierra can be downloaded directly. Anything since needs the App Store. That's where I have a huge knowledge gap. idk how you can get to the installer for High Sierra if you can't reach the App Store.
    – Tetsujin
    May 23, 2023 at 17:41
  • 1
    Thanks! I may scrounge around and see if one of my kids has a friend with a mac we can borrow for a few hours to make some bootable media...that seems easier
    – jerH
    May 23, 2023 at 17:48
  • 1
    @Tetsujin It's an Intel mac...I'll see what I can do with the MDS solution. An issue here is that Apples guidelines for creating bootable media assume you have a .app installer but the older OS download links they provide give you a .dmg disc image that, when restored, puts a .pkg file on the stick. I tried using TransMac but the resulting USB drive wasn't bootable
    – jerH
    May 24, 2023 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


One possible procedure would be as follows:

  1. Create a bootable USB El Capitan or Sierra installer. This can be done from either Windows or macOS (OS X). However, macOS (OS X) does not require third party tools and Windows does. You can try using Create a bootable installer for macOS, but recently I have had better success using this answer. The answer can also be adapted for use with Sierra.
  2. Boot from the installer.
  3. Partition the internal drive into two Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volumes of approximately equal size. I prefer to use the diskutil command, but the Disk Utility application should be able to preform this task.
  4. Install the operating system on the second Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume.
  5. Install all updates.
  6. Goto How to download macOS and follow the instructions for getting the Install macOS High Sierra application.
  7. Use the Install macOS High Sierra application to install High Sierra on the first Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume.
  8. While booted to High Sierra, remove the second Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume and reclaim the free space back to the first volume. Again, I prefer using the diskutil command over the Disk Utility application.
  • Sneaky… I like it ;))
    – Tetsujin
    May 24, 2023 at 11:01
  • I just made a Sierra stick using your first method from the apple.stackexchange.com/a/389830/85275 link. I've separated out the actual Terminal commands into a plain text file so they can be re-used, copy/paste [it's a bit of a mind-f*** getting the individual component names absolutely correct; you have to poke inside stuff to see where it's called macOS Sierra & where not etc.] Is there anywhere useful for it to go?
    – Tetsujin
    May 24, 2023 at 15:46
  • There is a Sierra version that is not quite finished. (Some formatting and images need to be updated.) I have not figured out how to put the website back into Ask Different or whether I should even try. May 24, 2023 at 17:55
  • These are really useful resources - especially now many of the old 'createinstallmedia' instructions will fail. I'm with you on any plan to bring these more to the public's attention. Maybe bring it up in chat, see what the mods think might be a good approach. My own 'how to get old macOS' has been creaking at the seams a long time & I don't have the chops or resources to test all alternatives. Today I've managed to add Sierra & High Sierra to my stock of VMs… but I'm still not certain what that has gained me.
    – Tetsujin
    May 24, 2023 at 18:19
  • This is what I wound up doing, although there was a hiccup where a 16 GB thumb drive told me it was out of space while executing the cp -rp /Volumes/esd/Packages /Volumes/Install\ El\ Capitan/System/Installation piece. But once I ran with a 32 GB drive I was able to install Sierra, partition the drive, install High Sierra through the app store, then delete the Sierra partition. Only downside (which may have been inevitable after the original OS installation crashed) is that I lost EVERYTHING on the HDD
    – jerH
    May 26, 2023 at 14:11

The problem seems to be that the https certificate of the catalog expired: https://mrmacintosh.com/how-to-fix-the-recovery-server-could-not-be-contacted-error-high-sierra-recovery-is-still-online-but-broken/#more-8092 Here is the solution which worked for me (as described in the link).

  1. Once in recovery, click "Reinstall macOS"

  2. Select Window -> Installer Log

  3. Click the Continue button in the macOS High Sierra window. It will stall again and display "Could not contact server"

  4. ~~Accept your fate and buy a new macbook~~ Check in the error messages. There should be something like "Failed to load catalog https://swscan.apple.com"... Copy that line (Edit->Copy).

  5. Close the "Reinstall macOS" window and go back to the main menu.

  6. Open Terminal (Utilities->Terminal)

  7. Paste the line you copied, select only the URL and copy it again.

  8. Now type in the command:

    nvram IASUCatalogURL="[copied URL]"

, but remove the "s" in "https"

The command should now look somewhat like this:

nvram IASUCatalogURL="http://swscan.apple.com/content/catalogs/others/index-10.13-10.12-10.11-10.10-10.9-mountainlion-lion-snowleopard-leopard.merged-1.sucatalog"
  1. Press Enter. Go back to the main menu and click "Reinstall macOS"

It should work now.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .