University of Oregon

How to Do an Archive and Install for Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9 (Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks)


An "archive and install" allows you to reinstall the operating system from the recovery partition on your machine while perserving all of your personal data. Reinstalling the operating system may be necessary if it has become corrupted or if you are experiencing certain types of glitches or faults with your computers operation. This article will show you how to do an archive and install on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion, and 10.9 Mavericks. Just follow the steps below.


Make sure the computer is connected to the internet. The internet connection can be via WiFi or ethernet. If the computer is not connected, this process will NOT work.

If using a laptop computer, make sure it is connected to a power source. If the computer battery were to die mid-installation, that could theoretically cause a lot of unwanted issues.

Make sure you backup or save all of your personal files and data to an external disk. This installation process does not require you to do so because erasing files is not part of the process. However, with any major function, there is always a risk of some form of data loss. Perform a backup or file save at your own discretion. If you are unable to save personal files for whatever reason, continue with the reinstallation as this is merely a precaution.


1. If your computer is on, restart it. If your computer is off, turn it on.

2. IMMEDIATELY after, or just before, startup, press and hold the command key and the R key simultaneously ("startup" meaning the signature Apple startup sound or "bong").

3. If done properly, the computer will appear to start as normal. However, a window will eventually appear that is titled OS X Utilities.

4. Select the utility labeled Reinstall OS X. Then click Continue.

5. A window will appear.

  • If you're running OS X 10.7 Lion, the window will show a picture of a lion and say OS X Lion.
  • If you're running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, the window will show a picture of a mountain lion and say OS X Mountain Lion.
  • If you're running OS X 10.9 Mavericks, the windows will show a picture of an X and Say OS X Mavericks.

6. Click Continue.

7. A window will appear saying that your eligability for the reinstall will be verified. Click Continue.

8. The next page is Apple's terms and license agreements. Once you've looked them over, click Agree.

9. A window will appear asking you to verify your agreement with Apple's terms. Click Agree again.

10. Select the hard drive that you want for the OS X reinstall and click Install.

  • The drive you want is most likely titled Macintosh HD.
  • If only one drive presents itself, just click Install.
  • If you don't see the hard drive that you would like to choose, click Show all disks..., select your desired destination, and click Install. If you still can't see your desired hard drive, check cable connections and power supplies.

11. A window may appear asking you to enter your Apple ID and password. If so, enter your ID and password and click Sign In. If the window doesn't appear, that's also normal.

  • The Apple ID and password is the information used to log into the iTunes store or the Mac App Store.

12. The installation process will begin.

  • The first step in the process is the software download. This requires an internet connection. Make sure there is a connection to WiFi or ethernet or the installation process will not begin. Your computer will restart several times during the process.

13. Once the installation is finished, your computer will appear to start as normal. This means the installation was successful.

  • If unsuccessful, try going through the process one more time. If unsuccessful the second time contact the UO Technology Service Desk.