Apple

How to create and restore an OS X recovery partition

Jesus Vigo goes over the steps to create and restore a recovery partition for OS X Mavericks.

 

Mavericks OS X recovery
 

Recovery partitions allow the repair and reinstallation of an operating system in the event of corruption or catastrophic failure. This data is hidden -- stored in a system partition at the root of the hard drive -- which prevents compromising file integrity or the need to carry around optical media or USB flash drives.

Starting with 10.7 “Lion,” Apple adopted this method of recovery for all flavors of OS X. However, two scenarios exist where this will not help overcome a debilitating system issue. First, in the event of hard drive failure or new SSD install. This is addressed in the TechRepublic article, "How to create a bootable USB to install OS X Mavericks."

The second issue occurs when the recovery partition is not created during the installation process. Luckily, a scripted solution exists thanks to Recovery Partition Creator 3.7.

Let’s look at the steps to create a recovery partition.

Creating a recovery partition

Here are the requirements for creating the recovery partition:

  • Install OS X Mavericks.app (App Store)
  • Recovery Partition Creator 3.7.app
  • Apple computer with OS X 10.7 (minimum)

Follow these steps to create a recovery partition:

  1. Extract the Recovery Partition Creator 3.7.app and execute it (Figure A)
    Figure A
    Figure A
     
  2. When notified that the program will modify your hard drive, click OK to confirm (Figure B)
    Figure B
    Figure B
     
  3. Click OK when the window reconfirms the version of OS X that's currently installed (Figure C)
    Figure C
    Figure C
     
  4. Select the drive where you want to install the recovery files, and then click OK (Figure D)
    Figure D
    Figure D
     
  5. When the app attempts to check the disk for errors, click Continue to perform the quick scan (Figure E)
    Figure E
    Figure E
     
  6. You can see the progress of the quick scan as it checks your drive for errors (Figure F)
    Figure F
    Figure F
     
  7. Once the scanning is complete, the app will ask to locate the Install OS X Mavericks.app file, so browse to the directory and click Choose (Figure G)
    Figure G
    Figure G
     
  8. Click OK when the process is ready to create the partition and install the necessary files (Figure H)
    Figure H
    Figure H
     
  9. Finally, when prompted to select the recovery partition type you wish to create, based on the version of OS X currently installed, click 10.9 (Figure I)
    Figure I
    Figure I
     
  10. A progress meter will identify the status of the process, and this process is quick, even on older hardware (Figure J)
    Figure J
    Figure J
     
  11. Click OK to acknowledge the completion of the process (Figure K)
    Figure K
    Figure K
     

To test the recovery partition, reboot the Mac and hold the [control]+[R] keys (or simply hold the [option] key). Depending on the model and whether a firmware password is set, the system will boot directly to the recovery partition or prompt for a boot password. Once entered, available boot devices will appear, with the recovery partition being named Recovery-10.9.

The recovery partition loads a shell of OS X familiar to anyone who’s ever installed a modern version of the OS. Tools and applications to perform clean installs, accounts resets, and troubleshoot hardware issues are located here. An added benefit to the recovery partition is the “Find My Mac” application that's enabled through the iCloud preferences pane. This works in conjunction with the recovery partition to track down Apple hardware in the event of loss or theft.

Do you have other tips and tricks for recovering partitions in OS X? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

 

 

About

Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 15 years of experience and multiple certifications from seve...

11 comments
tedgrigg
tedgrigg

I can't get it to work on my SSD internal HD on a MacBook Pro 8,2 with 10.9. I already have two partitions.


It goes through all of the dialog boxes and then stops after 60 seconds when trying to build the restore volume. I see a package folder showing in the finder with after it stops that appears to be all of the necessary elements for the recover volume. 


I used your latest version and tried to run it in Safe mode. Still no joy.

tedgrigg
tedgrigg

I can't get it to work on my SSD internal HD on a MacBook Pro 8,2 with 10.9. I already have two partitions.


It goes through all of the dialog boxes and then stops after 60 seconds when trying to build the restore volume. I see a package folder showing in the finder with after it stops that appears to be all of the necessary elements for the recover volume. 


I used your latest version and tried to run it in Safe mode. Still no joy.

Pal928
Pal928

I am about to replace a failed hdd in my MacBook Pro. Can someone please confirm if the recovery partition should be automatically created when I install OSX?

Thanks

aalh
aalh

How would you do this on early 08 macbook in Lion?

I have the bootable USB installer, but after replacing hdd I have no recovery partition
How do I create the recovery partition for this system? 
RPC 3.7 fails without error after selecting the drive to make recovery on

RPC 3.8 fails to open at all

futuredada
futuredada

I have a question. 


A few days ago came the new Mavericks 10.9.4, I made the recovery with version 10.9.3 and everything worked perfect, but the upgrade deleted partition recovery. Needless to say I have not had any problems with returns to the recovery partition, but it is cumbersome to have to download their entire operating system again. 


Do you know why this happens?

futuredada
futuredada

YEAH... Perfect, everything goes well. Ready in five minutes. 


Thanks, thanks and thanks.


Regards.

StriptheWillow
StriptheWillow

Step 7, there is no file icon appearing in the directory window to save to a folder. I'm running 10.9.2 on an iMac.

StriptheWillow
StriptheWillow

Works OK up to step 7, not showing me the install file to allocate to a folder.....

rayztechz
rayztechz

Worked all the way to the end for me. However, now I have the 'not allowed' symbol after holding down Command + r keys. I never did run into a or any fw password or anything of the sort. I do know I need to track down a (hard to find) sudo command to run in my root side before I even think of distributing my new creative image to the art people down the hall from me!

futuredada
futuredada

@StriptheWillow  YEAH... Perfect, everything goes well. Ready in five minutes. 


Thanks, thanks and thanks.


Regards.

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