A friend has just bought a brand new Macbook Pro with Mountain Lion OS. We are going to install an SSD to replace the standard HD that it shipped with, however, it looks like Apple don't ship with the OS on DVD any more. They have informed him there is a backup of the OS on another partition of the drive that his MBP shipped with.

My question is, bearing in mind this MBP hasn't been used yet - there is nothing to back up, we just want to install his fresh OS on the new SSD drive, what is the best way to go about this?

3 Answers 3


Macs that shipped with Lion or newer come with a recovery feature which is part of the EFI firmware, so that if the hard drive fails, or you install a new hard drive without OS X, the computer can start recovery directly from the internet over a broadband connection.

To start Recovery, hold down the Command + R keys while booting. The interface is pretty straightforward after that and you should be able to figure it out.

Apple also has as support article on OS X Recovery, and one on which models can support internet recovery through a firmware update.

  • And how exactly would this help in installing OS X on the SSD? The Recovery partition is on the HDD which @marcusstarnes want to replace with the SSD.
    – nohillside
    Sep 6, 2012 at 8:55
  • 4
    The Recovery feature is not on the HDD but actually part of the Mac. I think it is in some flash memory so it does not need the partition on the SSD. It will pull the OS image and create a new recovery partition on the SSD to store the image.
    – Alain King
    Sep 6, 2012 at 9:03
  • 1
    The recovery drive is a hidden partition on the disk. The internet recovery feature, however, is built into the firmware.
    – jmk
    Oct 2, 2012 at 17:35

In addition to internet recovery mentioned by Alain, you can also install the recovery software to an external USB drive from a running Mac OS X installation with a Recovery HD partition.

To do this, you can download an assistant from this support page: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1433


There are two recovery methods. The first is a local feature located on a hidden partition on the HDD shipped with the Macbook.

Terminal displaying disk partitions

The second, as mentioned by Alain King is in the firmware of the Mac and does not require the hidden partition to be present to work. It's the Internet Recovery feature and can download the OS to a new, blank drive.

If you're just swapping the existing HDD for an SDD, my suggestion would be to follow Gerry's advice. Install to a USB drive, replace the HDD with the new SDD, boot from the external drive with the Recovery Assistant and install to the SSD. It would be faster than the Internet Recovery.

Another option (to make use of the HDD) would be to install both drives in lieu of an optical drive. I've written some on this topic that might prove helpful.

  • 1
    I agree with your comment that there is a recovery partition that is used to re-install an OS. If your drive were to fail, there is a Recovery feature on the EFI firmware which will boot, connect to the internet and redownload the OS and create the recovery partition on the HDD and then install the OS.
    – Alain King
    Sep 20, 2012 at 16:19
  • Internet Recovery does not require the hidden recovery partition to be available. It is part of the EFI firmware.
    – Gerry
    Sep 20, 2012 at 16:22
  • You are correct, I was focused on the recovery partition as a solution and forgot about the Internet Recovery via EFI. I've edited my answer to reflect this.
    – ckoerner
    Oct 2, 2012 at 16:47

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