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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD System 10.7
This hint shows how to create your own Recovery HD (Disc or Flash Drive).

Mac OS X Lion includes a hidden Recovery HD. This is a small partition about 650MB in size which you can boot from by pressing down Option at startup. It includes a variety of utilities which can help you troubleshoot a Mac.

It can be very handy to have a bootable copy of your own on some other media incase you need to troubleshoot a Mac with a bad drive, or something has happened to the recovery partition, unlikely but possible.

To do this we need to find and mount the hidden disk image with the Installer.
  • Open up Terminal and type

    defaults write com.Apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true

    This is done to be able to see hidden files, including the disk image used to create the recovery disk.
  • Restart Finder via your preferred method. (Force Quitting, killall in Terminal, or logging out all work the same.)
  • In Finder find where you saved your Mac OS X Lion Installer to (probably your /Applications folder) and right click and select 'Show Contents.'
  • Go into the Contents/SharedSupport folder and open InstallESD.dmg
  • Now find BaseSystem.dmg and mount (open) it. The file is a 'hidden file' and will be slightly greyed out.
  • Now you need at least 1.1GB of free space on a flash drive or DVD. You can use either a 2GB drive, or partition your larger one, but I recommend keeping the Recovery partition free from your normal files that go on a flash drive. Make sure this partition is formatted as Mac OS X Extended Journaled. (You'll probably want to have the rest of your flash drive formatted as FAT if you work in a multi-platform environment.)
  • Copy over the entire contents of BaseSystem.dmg to your flash drive however you like. You can use Restore in Disk Utility, the Terminal, or your favorite cloning app. Make sure that you get all the invisible files that are there if you're copying over everything manually. Or if you're burning a disk, make sure you're burning the contents of the disk image, and not just the image itself (it won't be bootable that way).
  • Restart the Mac holding down Option, and test the drive to see if it worked. If you named your flash drive Recovery HD then it will have a USB drive icon when it starts up compared to the Recovery HD with a hard drive icon, which is that part that is on your actual startup drive, or you can name it anything you like.
  • Now, turn off the invisible file viewing in Finder if you want to. (There's no danger to keeping it on all the time as long as you know which files you can and can't mess with.) To do this go back into Terminal and type:

    defaults write com.Apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles false

  • Restart Finder to see the setting take effect.
[crarko adds: I think it's always a good idea to have a different recovery device than a partition on the main boot drive.]
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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD | 19 comments | Create New Account
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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: slb on Jul 25, '11 10:42:07AM

You don't need to edit the plist manually. In Disk Utility, goto Debug menu and select Show Every Partition. :)



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: Crazor on Jul 25, '11 02:07:35PM

Then tell us how to enable Disk Utility's Debug menu, please ;)



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: BrentT on Jul 25, '11 02:38:29PM

http://hints.macworld.com/comment.php?mode=view&cid=114250

This works in 10.7



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: Frederico on Jul 25, '11 02:49:34PM

This is not working for me, though the option exists in Disk Utility: Debug.

What should I expect to see in the Debug menu next to the option; I presume a checkmark next to the option? My Menu pauses briery with blue, then nothing occurs. No changes, no check next to the option; I also tried '...with properties' and 'Force Refresh'; no love.



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: David Allen on Jul 25, '11 01:26:18PM

I think it better and easier to just create an Install disk or USB drive from the Lion Installer that comes from the Mac App Store.

1. Right click the Installer app and select Show Package Contents.
2. Go to Contents/Shared Support.
3. Copy InstallESD.dmg to your Desktop.
4. Use the dmg to create an optical disk or USB thumbdrive.

---
Dah•veed |David Allen|
Monterrey, NL, Mexico



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: DocC on Jul 25, '11 07:32:54PM

David Allen is absolutely correct. A separate install disk or thumb drive is ultimately better and safer to use than a partition.

However the convenience of the Recovery Partition is quite tempting for routine maintenance, or would be if I could only add DiskWarrior to it.

By making all partitions visible in Disk Utility you can easily mount the Recovery Partition. Making all the files visible reveals the BaseSystem.dmg which contains the Utilities used by the Recovery Partition.

What I can't figure out is how to slip DW onto the disk image; there's room, but the image is locked and I'm not enough of a geek to figure out how to get around this. Unlocking it doesn't help.

Anyone got any suggestions?



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: simplebeep on Jul 26, '11 09:45:38PM

An interesting dilemma, indeed. The configuration of the Recovery HD seems convoluted and backward; why they'd put the entire startup system inside another disk image is beyond me--unless installing extra utilities is exactly what they're trying to prevent. I see two possible solutions:

  1. After backing up BaseSystem.dmg, try using Disk Utility to convert the image to a read/write format. Make your mods, and convert it back. This option, of course, is highly tricky, and it’d be difficult to keep the volume bootable.

  2. Use Disk Utility to create a new (standard, visible) partition in HFS+, and Restore from BaseSystem.dmg to it. You’ll now effectively have two recovery partitions. This new one, though, not being wrapped up in an image, should be free to add files to. It seems like Mac OS X Base System has all the requisite files for starting up from, all the way down to boot.efi. You might have to also jump through a few hoops in order to get it bootable, but it should be far more straightforward than using option 1. Once you’ve done that and tested it thoroughly, you could remove the “official” Recovery HD partition.

Might I stress: I have tried neither of these, and I’m running purely on speculation based on past experience. Proceed entirely at your own risk, and only if you know exactly what you're doing!



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: ibgarrett on Jul 25, '11 08:45:29PM

This isn't working for myself and a couple of other people I know who are trying to do this. We've gotten through these steps:

Open up Terminal and type

defaults write com.Apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true

This is done to be able to see hidden files, including the disk image used to create the recovery disk.
Restart Finder via your preferred method. (Force Quitting, killall in Terminal, or logging out all work the same.)

We've looked everywhere for the Lion Installer, searched visible and invisible files and haven't been able to find this next step - In Finder find where you saved your Mac OS X Lion Installer to (probably your /Applications folder) and right click and select 'Show Contents.'

Any ideas?

TIA...



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: simplebeep on Jul 26, '11 10:05:12PM

If you've already installed Lion, this installer file will have vanished. Some out there on the Internets claim it exists somewhere, but I haven't found it. As mentioned in a previous comment, however, the BaseSystem.dmg still exists within the Recovery HD. Accessing it is a several step process. Assuming you’ve already enabled showing hidden files:

  1. Quit Disk Utility.
  2. Now we need to enable Disk Utility’s Debug menu. In the Terminal, paste defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled -bool YES and press return.
  3. Open Disk Utility, and you’ll find our new super-special menu, Debug. In it, near the bottom, is an option to Show Every Partition. Turn that on.
  4. Recovery HD will appear in the list on the left. Select it, and click Mount in the toolbar. It will now be available in the Finder.
  5. Open up Recovery HD in the Finder, open the com.apple.recovery.boot folder, and there you’ll find BaseSystem.dmg.
  6. Proceed as described.
  7. Once you’re done with the whole process, you can simply “eject” Recovery HD and turn off “every partition” in Disk Utility.


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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: maclover on Jul 27, '11 04:56:44PM

I did the same as above but without luck.

Had to put 3 Files to the USB stick. Similar the OSX86 guys do.
But here without an Extra-folder. ;-)

Copy to the USB root-folder
1. boot.efi from /usr/standalone/i386 of your Lion system partition
2. mach_kernel from / of your Lion system partition
3. com.apple.Boot.plist ; Kernelflags changed to mach_kernel

This did the trick.



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: cagg on Jul 25, '11 09:18:24PM
This didn't work for me. Although I was able to copy the contents of BaseSystem.dmg to a USB flash drive, it wouldn't boot. It seemed to boot, that is I could select it on the boot screen after holding Option, and it seemed to be loading with the spinning progress indicator, however after about a minute the Apple logo changed to a circle with a slash.

I agree with David Allen's recommendation: just create a bootable USB flash drive or DVD from the full installer. This works, just requires a larger capacity USB flash drive, but they aren't that expensive.

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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: Whiterock on Jul 26, '11 10:40:47AM
Llike ibgarrett, I am unable to find the Lion Installer. It simply isn't there. Like most everyone else, I got Lion through the App Store.
---
Whiterock


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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: hamarkus on Jul 27, '11 08:40:37AM

The Lion installer deletes itself after the installation is completed. If you need something from it, duplicate it before running it.



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: rasbiker on Jul 26, '11 01:20:22PM

It's a great idea to have a basic recovery HD, but how do you get the lion installer to stay on the hard drive after it's finished installing the OS? I went to the Apple support page and followed the instructions for installing Lion on an external drive (in this case, a flash drive), but if there's a way to have a smaller, more efficient tool, I'd like to be able to make it for myself. Any suggestions? Thanks.



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: fud on Jul 27, '11 02:40:02PM

FYI, FileVault-encrypted Macs use the recovery partition as a bootloader on cold boot. Modifying or deleting it may impact FileVault usage.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4485/back-to-the-mac-os-x-107-lion-review

excerpt from page 17:
When cold booting, a FileVault-encrypted Mac uses the recovery partition we talked about earlier as a bootloader, since the main OS is now on an encrypted volume – you have to use the credentials of an approved user account to login before any OS files load.



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: ceej on Jul 29, '11 02:42:32AM

Dan Frakes's Macworld article, "How to make a bootable Lion install disc or drive"
<http://www.macworld.com/article/161069/2011/07/make_a_bootable_lion_installer.html>
tells you exactly how to do this, including how to re-download the Lion installer from the App store.

(You guys read Macworld, right? ;-)



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: Wizard69 on Jul 31, '11 12:00:44PM

MacWorld? Never heard of it.

In any event I agree with the sentiment expressed above about simply creating a bootable drive as a backup / repair tool. Yeah it takes a bit of space but it also allows you to install your favorite maintenance apps (MacVim anyone) and keep them uptodate. In fact you can keep the whole backup drive up to date by booting from it time to time.

Depending upon the size of this back up USB key you can also put critical apps on it. I'm all for recovery drives but for individual users I think a bootable bailout drive is a better solution. It can keep you going until you can properly repair the drive. Considering how cheap USB dongle drives are becoming it shouldn't be a problem.



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: leichter on Aug 14, '11 06:23:38AM
Apple has rendered this hint obsolete - its Recovery Disk Assistant does the same thing in an "official" way. See http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1433 and http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4848
---
-- Jerry



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10.7: Create your own Recovery HD
Authored by: wonfuji on Nov 06, '11 02:53:13PM

Is it possible to make the Lion Recovery disk visible? I have a 32 GB USB stick - three partitions with 10.5, 10.6 and 10.7 on each. The Lion one needs Disk Utility to mount. Can I make it visible on the desktop?



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