I have two machines this week that I needed to install Lion on and both were shipped with Lion and subsequently upgraded to Mountain Lion.

I tried wiping the drives, but Internet Recovery only offers a choice to download and install Mountain Lion. Is there a way to get Lion reinstalled instead?

I tried running the Install Mac OS X Lion app that I saved when I was using it to upgrade several Snow Leopard Macs to Lion last summer - but Apple has built in a check to prevent me from installing Lion onto an external drive while my mac currently runs Mountain Lion.

Can't install Lion from an Mountain Lion Mac

Is there an elegant way to instal Lion without needing a bootable Lion system to re-run the Lion installer (or download it from Internet Recovery)?

  • How come the Lion Macs upgraded to Mountain Lion via Internet Recovery? Has the owner that those Macs were registered already purchased a Mountain Lion licence?
    – gentmatt
    Oct 6, 2012 at 16:26
  • Perhaps I need to edit the question to make things clearer. The Macs in question didn't ever use internet recovery in the first place. I wanted to connect one in target mode to the other and run the installer - that failed. Then I tried Internet Recovery since that doesn't need a bootable OS to run. Perhaps that's the thing - I should clone a Lion recovery HD onto the bare drive and attempt IR. Maybe that's the key to selecting the OS or it could be an EFI update that hard codes the image selected?
    – bmike
    Oct 6, 2012 at 16:28
  • 1
    Can you clarify? The Mac shipped with Lion. Then you upgraded Lion to ML, purchasing it trough the MAS. Now using IR, to reinstall, it wants to pull ML (even though it shipped with Lion)? Is that correct?
    – user10355
    Oct 6, 2012 at 18:21
  • Yes @cksum - I have wiped the drive, so there is no App Store account at this point in the install process - just a Mountain Lion installer that wants to run.
    – bmike
    Oct 6, 2012 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


Yes - you can download the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant v1.0 and write a Lion specific Recovery HD to an USB drive with 1 GB of space on it. This will erase whatever information is on the USB partition, but then you can boot to a Lion Recovery HD and re-install Lion even if the Mac has Mountain Lion installed.


I don't think there is a way to trick a Mac, or to trick Apple's servers. If you want to use or install Lion.

I think the only way would be to have a bootable drive (which I imagine you don't have), or to copy a Lion installation to the new Mac (using Carbon Copy Cloner or something like that).

I know this isn't an answer, just haven't got enough reputation to make comments on this StackExchange community.

  • Thanks for the assist. My problem is that I didn't have a Lion installation that I could run, but my answer shows how to use the Recovery Disk Assistant to download a Lion installer shell from Apple.
    – bmike
    Nov 5, 2012 at 20:40
  • Yes I had the same problem at a point, but with Mountain Lion. What I did was ask a friend if he could download it for me, so really that's the only solution I think.
    – greduan
    Nov 5, 2012 at 22:08

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