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

Feb 3, 2012 - 13 Comments

Recovery HD All Macs with OS X Mavericks, Yosemite, Lion, Mountain Lion, 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, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. PayDrew says:

    Please help 07 MacBook no recovery hd but have Internet but airport not working correctly what are my options with know disc

  2. sơn says:

    Do the HD Recovery still available when the hardisk was formated?

  3. Mo says:

    I have an old MacBook model that works perfectly fine as long as it’s plugged in. Had it since college. I’d love to use again. I cannot remember what the master password is. So I’m locked out. There’s a password on the disc so it’s all encrypted and my brilliant hint isn’t helping either. I’m restarted in recovery mode. How can I wipe the whole thing and not remember how dumb I was in college. I am fairly decent with code. Just rust at times. I can’t get past this encrypted disc. Any help is appreciated.

  4. Vullie says:

    I bought a laptop from a guy that left town even though I had a computer already, I think this one is cooler.
    At first I got a screen with a startup now there is a flashing question mark on a folder tried reboot with command/ but still not working.
    I hope that the hard drive is not corrupted.

  5. Mac book air says:

    Well I have problem with grey screen icon lock on my Mac and nothing is working I did all those to hold the Commant key with R and also with S and with p nothing works and I have my password but I can’t inter it it is desible to put password

  6. […] 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 […]

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

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

  9. […] 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 […]

  10. 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.

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

  12. tim says:

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

  13. Scott says:

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

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