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
Here are the requirements for creating the recovery
- 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:
- Extract the Recovery Partition Creator 3.7.app and
execute it (Figure A)
- When notified that the program will modify
your hard drive, click OK to confirm (Figure
- Click OK when the window reconfirms the version of
OS X that’s currently installed (Figure C)
- Select the drive where you want to install the recovery files, and then click OK (Figure D)
- When the app attempts to check the disk for
errors, click Continue to perform the quick scan (Figure E)
- You can see the progress of the quick scan as it checks your drive for errors (Figure F)
- 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)
- Click OK when the process is ready to create
the partition and install the necessary files (Figure H)
- 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)
- A progress meter will identify the status of the
process, and this process is quick, even on older hardware (Figure J)
OK to acknowledge the completion of the process (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.