I bought a second hand Macbook Pro which came with OSX Lion installed, when I wanted to clean it I found out that it had no Recovery HD partition. I confirmed this through the Disk Utility (enabled debug menu, showing every partition).

I am able to boot using Apple's Internet Recovery feature, but since Lion wasn't bought on my Apple ID, its only giving me the option to buy OSX Mountain Lion. Can I use that to completely reinstall my Macbook and create a proper Recovery HD partition, and then can I simply use Timemachine afterwards to recover my data?

Any hints or tips for this process would be highly appreciated.

5 Answers 5


Yes, you can. Be sure to have a full Time Machine archive on an external device before you begin, and check your MBP meets the minimum system requirements before you buy. The Mountain Lion installer will create Recovery HD, if it doesn't already exist.

In case you choose to do a clean install, which is quicker, import your account afterwards from the Time Machine archive using Migration Assistant: you can pick and choose exactly what you want to import from the archive, and the Apple utility will sanitise imported user preferences so they are Mountain Lion compatible.

Alternatively, if you are comfortable using Terminal, Lloeki's answer to How can I create or recreate a Lion recovery partition has much to recommend it.


SuperDuper's developer recommends reinstalling OS X from the App Store:

Actually, you can easily recreate the recover partition by simply reinstalling Lion from the App Store. (This has the additional benefit of updating the recover partition with the most recent data, too.)

See http://www.shirt-pocket.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6647.

Reinstalling OS X over the current installation is like upgrading OS X. It keeps user files and settings in place, but it replaces some system files with the versions included with the installer. It shouldn't cause you any extra work, apart from things like having to reinstall Java or restore the contents of /etc/apache2/.

Alternatively, if you are running an old major version of OS X like the OP, you can just upgrade OS X from the App Store.


I had a whole set of articles about it on my blog.

http://www.dmitry-dulepov.com/2011/09/how-to-create-mac-os-x-lion-recovery.html http://www.dmitry-dulepov.com/2011/09/mac-recovery-partion-revisited.html http://www.dmitry-dulepov.com/2012/09/creating-os-x-recovery-partion-part-3.html

For now I would recommend the last article as a way to go. The first two will work but they require a lot of attention and doing math.

  • I know I'm not supposed to say "Thanks" in a comment, but these are very useful articles! Feb 13, 2014 at 8:53

You can use Carbon Copy Cloner to create the space for the Recovery Partition if you are booted from another hard drive.

The problem is that you will need a copy of to 10.7 Recovery Partition to copy into the space that Carbon Copy Cloner creates.

  • If you are using CCC4, after performing disk cloning, remember to click your destination disk from side bar, and click "Recovery HD" and follow the steps in order to create recovery partition. This step is missing in most of the tutorial that I've read and this step is vital to enable File Vault 2. bombich.com/kb/ccc4/cloning-apples-recovery-hd-partition
    – morph85
    May 19, 2015 at 4:51

I would recommend using a tool for this. The one I prefer is:

You can look at the tools and it's been used by many Mac Admins so it gets updated when things break over time quite rapidly. Apple recommends reinstalling the OS, but that's an indirect way if you don't mind running a special tool for this limited task.

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