How to reinstall macOS from macOS Recovery

Learn how to use macOS Recovery to reinstall the Mac operating system on your built-in drive or an external drive.

Reinstall from macOS Recovery

macOS Recovery makes it easy to reinstall the Mac operating system, even if you need to erase your startup disk first. All you need is a connection to the Internet. If a wireless network is available, you can choose it from the Wi-Fi  menu in the menu bar. This menu is also available in macOS Recovery.

1. Start up from macOS Recovery

To start up from macOS Recovery, turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold one of the following combinations on your keyboard. Command-R is generally recommended, especially if your Mac was never upgraded to macOS Sierra 10.12.4 or later.

Command (⌘)-R

Reinstall the latest macOS that was installed on your Mac (recommended).

Option-⌘-R

Upgrade to the latest macOS that is compatible with your Mac.

Shift-Option-⌘-R

Reinstall the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available.
  

Release the keys when you see an Apple logo, spinning globe, or other startup screen

You might be prompted to enter the login password of an administrator of this Mac, or your Apple ID password, or a firmware password. If so, enter the requested password to continue.

When you see the utilities window, you have started up from macOS Recovery.

macOS Utilities window

2. Decide whether to erase (format) your disk

You probably don't need to erase, unless you're selling, trading in, or giving away your Mac, or you have an issue that requires you to erase. If you need to erase your disk before installing macOS, select Disk Utility from the Utilities window, then click Continue. Learn more about when and how to erase.

3. Install macOS

After starting up from macOS Recovery, choose Reinstall macOS (or Reinstall OS X) from the Utilities window. Then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions to choose your disk and begin installation.

If the installer asks to unlock your disk, enter the password you use to log in to your Mac. If the installer doesn't see your disk, or it says that it can't install on your computer or volume, you might need to erase your disk.

Please allow installation to complete without putting your Mac to sleep or closing its lid. During installation, your Mac might restart and show a progress bar several times, and the screen might be empty for minutes at a time.

If your Mac restarts to a setup assistant, but you're selling it, trading it in, or giving it away, press Command-Q to quit the assistant without completing setup. Then click Shut Down. When the new owner starts up the Mac, they can use their own information to complete setup.

 


If you never upgraded to macOS Sierra 10.12.4 or later

If macOS Sierra 10.12.4 or later was never installed on your Mac, macOS Recovery works differently:

  • Command-R is still the recommended way to start up from macOS Recovery. This combination makes sure that the installation isn't associated with your Apple ID, which is important if you're selling or giving away your Mac.
  • Option-Command-R installs the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available.
  • Shift-Option-Command-R isn't available.

 


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