While Mac OS X Lion automatically installs a recovery partition on your hard drive for reinstalling the operating system or restoring from a Time Machine backup, that’s no help if your hard drive completely fails. However, Apple has a tool available that will allow you to create another recovery drive using a USB drive instead. It’s very simple; just follow these steps.
What you’ll need
- The Lion Recovery Disk assistant application from Apple’s website. This tool is going to do all the work and create the recovery drive for you.
- A USB flash drive with at least 1 GB of free space. Everything on this drive will be deleted, and you won’t be able to use it again except as a recovery, so make sure you have a spare if you need one for other purposes.
Once you’ve downloaded the tool from the Apple website, there are only three steps.
- Connect the USB stick you’d like to create the recovery tool on. Again, you won’t be able to use this USB stick again after you turn it into a recovery key, so make sure you won’t need it again after this.
- Open up the Recovery Disk Assistant application and select the stick you’d like to use from the list.
- Click OK, and the tool will do the rest. After a couple of minutes, the USB stick will disappear from the Finder and the tool will let you know that it’s finished. You can now disconnect the USB stick and put it somewhere safe for future use. It’s probably a good idea to mark it so that you or others in your household don’t get it confused with a regular drive.
How to use the recovery key
In order to use the recovery tools that are now on your USB stick, you’ll need to boot your computer from the stick. To do so, hold down the Option key after your computer’s startup chime. You’ll be presented with a list of bootable drives, including either one or two named Recovery HD. The one with the hard drive icon is the internal recovery partition on your computer’s hard drive. The other one should be an orange icon with the USB logo – that’s the recovery USB stick. Double click the icon to boot from the USB stick, and you should be presented with Lion’s recovery tools.