MacBook, heal thyself. Reinstalling MacOS on a recent MacBook
July 4, 2011 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I need to reinstall Mac OS X on my 2011 MacBook Pro urgently, but my install disc is unreadable. Previous versions of MacOS won't install on this laptop, as it requires a more recent build. What are my options?

My MacBook Pro crashed in spectacular fashion, forcing me to reformat the hard drive. Unfortunately, the install disc seems to be corrupted. What can I do to get this back up and running?

Things I have tried:

- Reinstalling from a Snow Leopard DVD. Didn't work because this MacBook seems to require a later version (10.6.7, I think), and the retail Snow Leopard DVDs are 10.6.3 at most.

- Copying and repairing the DVD. It seems to be fundamentally corrupted somehow, as it can't be repaired.

- I asked Apple to send me a new install disc, but the one they sent was unreadable. Nice job, Apple.

I do have access to a 10.6 install image and the 10.6.7 combo update, but that can't be applied to an install disc: it has to be installed and updated, which I cannot do.

Any ideas?
posted by baggers to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That both discs are "corrupted" sounds fishy to me. Try booting from the disc- with the DVD in the drive, restart while holding "C".

If that doesn't work, it might be a hardware (disc drive) issue. If you have access to another computer, you can make a bootable image on a USB key and start from that. (More boot options here.)

However you get it to boot, copy any data off your computer, format the drive, and do a clean install of Snow Leopard.
posted by supercres at 11:08 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, should have added "..or if you've already tried booting from those discs..." since it's probably what you did to reinstall the OS.

Here's more about creating a bootable USB drive. You can also try making a Ubuntu flash drive on order to diagnose your computer.
posted by supercres at 11:14 AM on July 4, 2011

If two different DVDs are unreadable, the problem is most likely that your drive is kaput.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:24 AM on July 4, 2011

I have already tried booting from both discs. The first one (that came with the computer) is scratched, so it gets part way thorugh the install, and then stops with an error. The second one that Apple sent me is just plain unreadable. I would have thought that Apple would do better than sending a DVD-R disc, but they flunked on that one.

The computer itself seems to be okay: I have recovered the data, but the OS install was beyond recovery. I just wish I had realized the original disc was bad before I had reformatted the drive.

As I said, I have tried copying what I have to a USB drive and making that bootable, but it doesn't work. What I need to do is to be able to create a new 10.6.7 or above DVD install disc somehow...
posted by baggers at 11:25 AM on July 4, 2011

Thorzdad, the DVDs are damaged. I have tried them on several different drives and they are not readable on any of them.
posted by baggers at 11:26 AM on July 4, 2011

Do you live near any helpful stores that sell Macs? Even if not an Official Apple Store, they might have a small service department.
posted by hattifattener at 11:51 AM on July 4, 2011

if you have another mac available, try turning on DVD sharing and boot from the drive of the other mac.
posted by tomswift at 12:25 PM on July 4, 2011

oops, missed that the disks can't be read by other machines...sorry..
I would also vote on taking the machine, and the disk, to an apple store.
posted by tomswift at 12:26 PM on July 4, 2011

Another longshot idea: if you have (access to) another Mac, you could try installing 10.6.7 on it (via 10.6.x + updater) and then duplicating its filesystem onto the dead machine's via Target Disk Mode.
posted by hattifattener at 12:30 PM on July 4, 2011


You can download the Mac OS X 10.6.7 installer image via BitTorrent. You already own the software so that's probably legal.

Here's a copy on thepiratebay:

You can then burn this to a dual-layer DVD and boot from it.


Then if that doesn't work, there are various strange tricks you can use to get this all installed if you can't burn the DVD. Do you have access to another Intel Mac? Or do you have access to a Firewire external drive?

If you have access to another Intel mac which fulfills these criteria:
A) can boot from the old 10.6.3 disc,
B) has a Firewire port,

... then you can "slave" the new machine to it via Firewire target-mode (press T on bootup on new machine - this temporarily transforms the machine into a Firewire external drive). Hook the machines up via Firewire cable. Boot the spare Mac from the 10.6.3 drive, and have it install to the drive that is the new machine. Reboot the spare mac from the still-slaved drive, and update it to 10.6.7 via Software Update. Now you can boot the new machine from the updated OS X on its internal drive. Magic! :)


If you have or can borrow an extenal Firewire enclosure, and it's OK to format the drive in it, then you can use this method to clone the installation DVD ISO to the Firewire drive, after which you will be able to boot your Mac from the Firewire drive. (I haven't had luck with this method using USB.)
posted by krilli at 12:39 PM on July 4, 2011

Thanks, all. Going to try a couple of the suggestions: will report back.
posted by baggers at 2:34 PM on July 4, 2011

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