Internet Recovery Mode: Reinstall macOS When You Change the Hard Drive or SSD

Internet Recovery Mode: Every Mac includes a recovery mode based on a partition on the hard drive itself or SSD. From this section it is possible to reinstall the version of macOS that the computer has installed and to perform some additional tasks such as doing disk checks.

This is fine and in case of problems with the operating system or data allows a quick restore. But what happens if the storage system breaks down? In this case, the computer cannot be restored from this mode, since that partition will be completely lost.

Internet Recovery Mode: Reinstall macOS When You Change the Hard Drive or SSD
Internet Recovery Mode: Reinstall macOS When You Change the Hard Drive or SSD

Internet Recovery Mode: Reinstall macOS When You Change the Hard Drive or SSD

For these cases Apple created an alternative system called Recovery for macOS over the Internet. This system allows you to restore the installation of the operating system on any Mac through an Internet connection.

Throughout this guide you will learn everything you need to know about how to recover macOS through the Internet: how to access it, how to use it and also all its advantages and limitations.

What can you do with this mode

Basically it offers the same possibilities as the standard recovery mode, with the difference that in this case it is not necessary for the storage system to have any previous data.

If you have just changed the hard drive or SSD memory of your Mac and it is completely empty, you can access this mode to start the installation of the operating system or restore a backup of Time Machine without using any USB stick, external hard drive or optical disk to make the relevant installations.

In addition, you can also access the Disk Utility to do disk checks, create partitions, change the file system, etc, etc …

Finally, this recovery system also allows you to open Safari and browse the Apple support website looking for solutions to the most common problems during the restoration.

Differences between standard and Internet mode

As you can see the options that one mode allows and the other are practically the same. But there is a big difference and it is the version of macOS that can be installed from each one.

In the case of standard recovery you can reinstall the latest version of macOS that the Mac had. That is, if you had Mojave installed on the Mac, you can reinstall the exact same version.

For its part, the recovery through the Internet, allows you to reinstall the version that the computer included at the factory , even if it was later updated at some point. That is, if you had Mojave, but when you bought the computer it came with Sierra, you can only reinstall Sierra and later you will have to update it from System Preferences.

How to access Internet recovery mode

Accessing this mode is very easy, all you have to do is follow these steps with the Mac completely turned off:

  1. Press the power button and immediately hold down the key combination Command (⌘) + Option (⌥) + R.
  2. Keep the keys pressed until a world ball with the message “Starting Internet Recovery” appears on the computer screen (same as in the photo a little above).
  3. Choose the WiFi network you want to connect to and enter the password (if you have a network cable connected you can skip this step).
  4. Wait a few minutes until the loading process is complete (the waiting time varies depending on several factors, you must be patient, as it will take several minutes).

As soon as it finishes, the computer will directly load a window with various macOS utilities that you can access from the recovery mode.

At this point you only have to choose the one you need to use and follow the on-screen instructions to perform the operations you need: restore a backup of Time Machine, reinstall macOS from scratch, access Disk Utility or open Safari to visit the web Apple support.

Which Macs are supported

This function has been present on Macs for quite some time and all Macs that came with macOS Lion as standard support accessing this mode.

In addition, some devices that came onto the market with Snow Leopard were later made compatible through a software update. If your equipment is from the year 2010 onwards, it is most likely compatible.

The exact list of the first compatible equipment is as follows:

  • MacBook Air (11-inch and 13-inch, late 2010).
  • MacBook (13 inches, mid 2010).
  • MacBook Pro (13, 15 and 17 inches, mid 2010).
  • Mac mini (mid 2010).
  • iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, mid 2010).

All who came to the market later can access this recovery mode without any problem. Thus, in case of problems with the storage system, they can restore the operating system without having any previously created method.

My Mac is not supported. How can I reinstall macOS?

In case your Mac does not support this recovery mode and you cannot access the standard mode either, you should resort to reinstallation from a USB installation disc.

If you had not created the recovery disc before changing the Mac storage system, you will need to do it from another computer and then reinstall the operating system on your computer.

That is why if you are reading these lines and you have a Mac that is not compatible with these recovery systems, I recommend that you create the pendrive now so that, in case of problems, you can recover it.

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