- Posted by Haroun Arif
- On January 11, 2019
If and when you have a critical issue with your MacOS and need to reinstall it, then the process of doing it is fairly simple. You press Command key + R from your keyboard, and that triggers the Recovery mode on your Mac. However, sometimes, it might so happen that the said combination of keys (Command + R) does not work. You press the keys and that does not initiate the recovery mode on your Mac. This article is meant for providing solutions to such a situation. In addition, we will also look into other options for reinstalling MacOS if the discs are not available. You can refer to this article as a complete guide on reinstalling MacOS when Command-R doesn’t work.
What Exactly is a Recovery Partition?
A hard drive, though a single volume, is however sectioned into two or more areas which are termed as partitions. There are typically four partitions on a hard drive, one of which can be used to completely reinstall MacOS. This partition is known as the Recovery partition, and it is generally present even if you erase the Mac, allowing users to reinstall the MacOS and perform other functions.
Hence, it’s a real problem if you want to reinstall Mac, but you can’t access the recovery partition because it’s either missing or can’t be triggered. Luckily, there are solutions to this issue, which we are going to discuss here, in details.
Possible Reasons behind Recovery Mode not Working in Mac
A Mac, like any other digital device, can encounter a number of issues with time. Sometimes, the problems faced can be serious, and you may need to reinstall your MacOS by starting your Mac in the recovery mode by pressing the Command key + R together from the keyboard. But, what if the keys do not work? There can be a number of reasons for Command + R not working on your Mac. Let’s take a quick look at the possible reasons for recovery mode not working on Mac.
- MacOS X Snow Leopard or older, will not have a recovery partition. So, if your Mac is that old, then you need to use the disc that came with it for reinstalling.
- If your Mac is running on an OS that is older than Sierra, then all the recovery options that you might have heard of is not present. Thus, in such cases, the recovery mode might not get triggered by every possible means that are available in newer MacOS.
- The fault might be with the keyboard. In that case, you should try using a new one.
- The recovery partition is corrupted or deleted.
Check if the Recovery Partition is Working
It’s possible that you have used the incorrect combination of keys or it might even be the result of a faulty keyboard. In such cases, ensure that the recovery partition is present. Here’s how to do that:
How to Boot into Recovery Drive
Follow the simple steps mentioned below to boot into your Mac recovery drive and check if it is present.
- Go to Apple menu> Shut Down to shut down your Mac.
- Press and hold the Command key + R together from the keyboard and press the Power button.
- Keep holding both the keys (Command + R) until the Apple logo appears on the screen. Now, once the logo appears, release the keys and wait for the startup to complete.
- If your recovery partition is good, then you should see a screen reading MacOS Utilities (or OS X Utilities if your Mac is older). If you see this screen, then you don’t need to worry. Your recovery partition is fine, and you are all set to move into reinstalling your MacOS using the partition.
However, if your Mac boots normally or into a blank screen, then perhaps your recovery partition is missing. To confirm this, you can check the Terminal.
Follow the steps mentioned below to check if your MacOS has a recovery partition.
- Open Terminal.
- Enter ‘diskutil list’ without the quotes.
Now, you should see all the volumes and partitions on your Mac listed together. You should see Apple_Boot Recovery HD on the first drive. Try to boot again using the process mentioned above.
Additional Tips to Open Recovery Partition
- Shut down your Mac.
- Now, hold down the Command option + P + R keys and press the Power button. This process will reset the PRAM, and then you can check if your Mac boots into Recovery mode.
In addition, you should also check the keyboard, particularly if you are using a Bluetooth keyboard.
Procedure to Reinstall MacOS
Fortunately, there are still some things you can do (to reinstall MacOS), even if the recovery partition is missing. The first procedure we will mention here is Internet Recovery.
Use Internet Recovery to Reinstall MacOS
Comparatively newer Macs are able to reinstall their OS from an active internet connection. Carefully follow the procedure mentioned below:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Hold down the Command Option (or in some Macs, it is named Alt) + R, and press the Power button.
- Continue to hold down these keys until you see the Internet Recovery screen.
- A progress bar will replace the message.
- Now, after some time, the MacOS Utilities screen should appear.
- Click on Reinstall MacOS and follow the given instructions to complete the installation.
This process, i.e., the Internet Recovery works fine if a network uses WEP and WPA security. If however, you are on a proxy network or a PPPoE, then it may not work properly. In such cases, you should first find another network, and if you can’t find one or if it still doesn’t work, you can move on to the next solutions.
Reinstall MacOS from a Bootable Installer
If the Internet Recovery doesn’t work in your case, then you are left with the option of creating a bootable installer and reinstall MacOS using it. There are a few things to consider before you move on with the process. The flash drive you use must have minimum 12GB space. Also, keep in mind that all data will be erased from this USB drive; so be careful to use a new drive, or remove any file if present from the USB drive before you use it as a bootable installer.
Create a Bootable Installer on a Flash Drive
Open the Applications folder on your Mac and look for the installer files. If you can’t find the files, then open the Mac App Store, look under the purchased tab, and click to download the installer.
Now, with the installer in hand, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Connect your USB flash drive to your Mac.
- Open Disk Utility.
- In the sidebar, under External, select the Volume. The volume is the upper part and the partition is mentioned underneath it.
- Click on Erase. Make sure it says ‘Untitled’ in the name field.
- Open Terminal.
- Cut and paste the correct createinstallmedia text into the Terminal.
- Enter your administrator password.
- Enter “y” and hit Return (as is prompted in the screen)
This process will first wipe your USB drive and then turn it into a bootable installer. Wait for the process to complete.
Install MacOS from the Bootable Installer
Now, you can apply the steps mentioned below to use the bootable installer:
- Connect the bootable installer (USB drive) to your Mac.
- Shut down your Mac.
- Press and hold the Option/Alt button and press the Power button. The startup device list window should appear displaying a yellow drive with “Install” below it.
- Select the drive and hit Return. Wait for the progress bar to fill.
- Select Disk Utility.
- Select the drive under Internal.
- Click on Erase.
- Name the drive. Make sure that the format is MacOS Extended (Journaled) and the scheme is GUID Partition Map.
- Click Erase> Done.
- Select Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility.
- Select Install MacOS and click on Continue.
- Follow the Options presented.
- Select the drive that you named as the installation disk, and click on Install.
Now, you need to wait for some time while MacOS is installed on your hard drive. After the completion of this process, which can take around half an hour or more, you’ll have a fresh installation of MacOS.This installation will also include a Mac Recovery partition.
Reinstall MacOS X on an Older Mac
As mentioned earlier, there are no Recovery partitions present in the older versions of Mac. In such cases, you can use the original discs (that came with the Mac when you purchased it) to reinstall the OS. If you do not possess the original discs, you need to buy them according to the version you use.
After you get hold of the original disc, you can simply insert it into the optical drive of your Mac, and then reinstall the OS.
- How long does it take for MacOS High Sierra to install?
It can take anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour and 50 minutes for High Sierra to install.
- How to restore Mac back in time?
First, you need to boot your Mac into recovery mode by pressing the Command + R keys. Next, from the recovery options available, select “restore from Time Machine backup.”