University of Oregon

Reinstall Mac OS X and Keep Your Personal Files


Your computer my encounter problems that can't be fixed except by reinstalling your operating system. Luckily OS X 10.6 makes this process simple and painless with Archive and Install, a feature of your Macintosh's installation program.

Operating systems (OS) can get cluttered over time and periodic overhauls of the OS can be beneficial.

The Archive and Install feature in OS X overwrites your system files while keeping your personal files, documents, music, and other files in your Documents folder intact. Although the Tech Desk recommends backing up your data before a fresh OS install, Archive and Install does not require backing up. Still, it's a good idea to store important data in more than one location.

1. Either while your Mac is on, or immediately on boot up, insert the Mac OS X 10.6 disk into your computer. 

2. Boot up or reboot your computer. Immediately after hearing the Mac startup chime on the grey screen, press and hold the 'C' key.

3. Choose your preferred language

4. In the Install Mac OS X window click Continue. Click Agree to the software license agreement.

5. Click Install. This process should take about 45 minutes depending on your processor speed.

6. When the process is complete, restart your computer. You're done!