How to Boot into OS X Mountain Lion & Mavericks Recovery HD Partition on a Mac

Feb 3, 2012 - 8 Comments

Recovery HD All Macs with OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, or Mavericks have a bootable Recovery partition that can be accessed in case of system problems, allowing you to troubleshoot, restore from Time Machine backups, and even reinstall Mac OS X. There are two ways to reach Recovery mode on a Mac:

Hold down the OPTION key during boot and choose the “Recovery” option, or Hold down Command+R keys during boot to access the Recovery HD partition. Which method you will want to use depends on your Mac model, but the OPTION trick works on every Mac.

You’ll know you’re in recovery mode because the standard desktop won’t be displayed, replaced with a limited Mac OS X Utilities window and a simple Mac OS X menu bar. Here you can use Disk Utility, Time Machine, and restore the OS.

From the Utilities menu you can access Network Utility, use the Firmware Password Utility, and launch the Terminal, which lets you repair user home permissions, launch other apps, and perform other diagnostic tests.

Launch Terminal from the Utilities menu

To reinstall OS X from the Recovery partition on a Mac, you will need an active internet connection, that’s because the recovery drive will download the remainder of the OS from Apple. However, the internet aspect is not necessary if you booted with a full Lion USB installer (or Mountain Lion, or Mavericks installers) rather than the built-in Recovery HD partition, or if you used a disk made with the Lion Recovery Assistant tool (again, or 10.8 and 10.9 recovery assistants).

Note that if you deleted the Recovery HD partition, you can not access these features.

Thanks for the tip idea @oldrobots

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

8 Comments

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  1. Scott says:

    Probably should have covered this before the Mac OS 10.7.3 debacle!

  2. tim says:

    I noticed that this is the same place where user can repair the disc instead of using a bootable disc.

  3. […] Reboot the Mac and hold down Command+R to boot into Recovery […]

  4. stuartbell says:

    Earlier I was not aware about the recovery HD. Knew it while cloning my Mac drive with Stellar Drive clone. The application copy recovery HD along with other applications and data.

  5. […] find the “Repair Disk” button is inaccessible. In this case all you need to do is reboot into the Recovery HD partition and run Repair Disk from there, here’s how to do that in OS X Lion and Mountain […]

  6. […] Reboot the Mac and hold down Command+R to boot into Recovery Mode […]

  7. […] Boot from the Recovery Partition and verify your boot disk and permissions with Disk Utility […]

  8. […] While you can verify the boot volume at any time, the best way to repair the boot disk is to boot from the recovery partition by holding down Command+R and running Disk Utility from there. This will be necessary if bad blocks […]

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