Reinstall Mavericks on Macbook Pro

Note: This post is part of the the series: Reformat Macbook Pro to make brand new. You can always refer back to the table of contents to follow the entire process.

We’ve arrived at our final destination. If you’ve stuck with me, you’re on your way to a faster, and cleaner Macbook Pro. And let me tell you, it’s worth it! Faster start up and shut down, faster processing and just knowing the hard drive is free of clutter and much better organized will put a  smile on your face. In the last chapter you wiped your data clean from the laptop. Now it’s time to breathe life back into the Macbook Pro by using your boot drive you created in the earlier steps.

Here we go!

Reinstall Mavericks on Macbook Pro

Now is the time to install the operating system so your dead computer can come back to life. This is the fun part. You will now use the boot drive you made to install Mavericks onto your brand new Mac!

1. You’ll want to insert the thumb drive into your now ‘dead’ mac.
2. Press the power button on your Macbook (if it’s off), or choose restart from any menu the Macbook has left you on.
3. Hold down the OPTION key as the computer starts.
4. You’ll get a menu giving you options to use the Mavericks startup installer.
5. Click the installer and let it load OS X Mavericks onto your new Macbook Pro.

And Voila! You’re there. Once Mavericks is installed, you will have to set up the computer as you did when you first purchased it. Be sure to add your Apple ID and pick your Wi-Fi connection. You’ll have to add in your passwords, so hopefully you have them nearby.

Once you’re taking to the desktop, you’ll notice it’s BARE! All of your programs will be gone – so you can track down the programs and reinstall them Doing so will ensure that all of the old, uncessary files you created will be gone. If you just install and pull over content from your backup on your external hard drive, a lot of those junk files may come with it. I recommend just reinstalling software piece by piece so you know the hard drive is clean and remains that way.

Accessing files from your Time Machine backup

I understand a lot of you will want to access folders full of information from your Time Machine backup we created a few chapters ago. It’s very easy to do. Here’s a couple quick ways.

Accessing raw data

1. Plug in the external hard drive you created the backup on
2. Double-click the hard drive icon.
3. Double-click the Backups.backupdb folder.
4. Double-click your computer-named folder.
5. Now you will see a set of folders. These folders are all the backups you made during the process of backing up your data.
6. Click on the date of the folder that contains the file you’re looking for.
7. Double-click your computer-named folder.
8. Double click on the folder named Users.
9. Double click on your user name folder.
10. Now you’re free to track down your folder. Drag and drop it to the new computer desktop and you’re good to go!

Accessing Time Machine data from another computer

This is essentially what you’re doing if you’ve renamed your user name on the new Macbook Pro you’ve just cleaned. So to access the data from the old computer, follow these steps:

1. Double click on your hard drive, double-click into Applications.
2. Find the Time Machine icon and drag it to your dock.
3. CONTROL + CLICK on the Time Machine icon in the dock.
4. Click on Browse Other Time Machine Disks…
5. Navigate to the backup time period and drag and drop files as you wish!

TIP: You can also access the 'browse' feature another way. You can use the Time Machine icon in your menubar.  Hold the Alt/Option key, and the Enter Time Machine option will change to the Browse ... option.

Congratulations! Your computer is as good as brand new! Enjoy the extra speed and space. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please add them in the comments section below and I’ll try to help the best I can. Also, please revisit the series table of contents to look back at any of the steps.

Please let me know how this worked for you below in the comments. Are you a happy camper? I sure hope so.

Enjoy your new Macbook Pro!

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About the author

Josh Benson


  • Hi I’m about to go through this process, but I need to preserve applications that I have purchased (Office 2008) that require a cd and a key code. I’ve moved overseas since buying the pro and don’t have access to the cd and key code. Is there a way to retain the programme, but none of the junk files?

  • Similar to dericali below, I’m struck by the absence from your instructions (including prep) re: the various applications. Your instructions offer no guidance on this topic. Please consider adding something about applications.

  • Jillaine: Thanks for the message. Sorry to hear you’re having issues. The way I reformatted worked great for my situation. I had disks or drives of programs I could easily re-install. You both bring up a valid point. So from that angle you’ll have save or clone the program before you reformat. My recommendation is to make a complete copy of everything on your computer with Time Machine then only load in things that you want in terms of core files one by one. I will have to write a post about what files you’ll need to copy over, but for now – if you have a full copy of your current state on time machine, that shouldn’t prevent you from reformatting. It’ll take some time to organize what you need after the fact anyway. Thanks for the comment.

  • Hi Josh,
    I followed your instructions and was able to get to the final step of reinstalling Mavericks on my USB. However, I restarted my computer with the USB inserted and booted it to install Mavericks, but it has been over an hour, and all I see is a grey screen with a cross out symbol and the power-up icon that spins continuously. My computer is also over-heating, so I’m not sure what I should do.

    • Hi Laura: Sorry to hear you’re having issues. What kind of Mac is it and how old? It may be that the boot drive wasn’t created properly. Here is some info on the topic: Perhaps shut it down (let it cool off and try again or create another boot drive… hard to tell what the issue is until we know more. Good luck.

    • I had the same issue. I worked around it by performing a Internet Recovery instead of using a boot disk. To do that, turn off your computer, then turn it back on holding Command + R. Then follow the instructions.

  • Hi Josh, I’m having the same issue as Laura. I don’t think the boot drive is bad because it looks fine when I plug it into another MacBook. Any other thoughts? I’m kind of stuck now…

    Also another thing to note, when the USB shows up after restarting and holding the Option button, my wireless network isn’t showing up in the “select a network” list. I’ve even plugged it directly into the Ethernet port and it’s still not showing up.

    • Hmmm, that’s interesting. Are other networks showing up? You’ve probably solved this issue by now. Sorry for the delayed response. Let us know how you did.

  • Great job on this! Worked perfectly, you wrote it well, and you sound friendly and nice! Thanks for the great post. 🙂

  • Hi Josh! Just wondering how i’m going to create another boot drive if I only have one laptop? 🙁 I’ve followed your steps but still can’t. I need to use my laptop ASAP. Any idea?

  • Thanks for posting – this worked a treat. I used an SD card to create the boot disk because I didn’t gave a flash drive handy. Keep up the good work.

  • Hi josh. I followed all the steps, erased as you said. And after reinstalling mavericks it came back to the same desktop and same programs as before… Not sure what I’m doing wrong, clearly the hard drive didn’t erase despite the 8 hours I waited to erase it using the 7x option. And when I go back into disk utility it says 447 gb used..

  • Hello, Josh. Thank you for walking us through this tutorial, I’m glad that I can find something like this. Everything is fine. However, I do have an issue. Due to the fact that OS X Yosemite is released, whenever I enter in my Apple ID and password, it responds with the words, “This item is temporarily unavailable.” Is this something I should worry about?

  • Hello, Josh. Thank you so much for doing this tutorial. I hope you can help me with this: When trying to Erase Free Space and also just Erase it tells me: Volume erase failed with error: Couldn’t amount disk.
    Any ideas here?
    Hope you can help me. Thank you.

  • I am stuck at this step. When i select install mavericks it is redirecting me to disk utilities screen where i erased free space.. I tried it couple times now. I have mac pro 2009 version which was running mountain lion.

  • Has anyone managed to do the install with a broken touchpad? If your touchpad is broken and won’t click, you normally can set it to just tap the touchpad. That doesn’t work once your not in the operating system.

    I used a work around by using control+fn+f2 to select erase in the menu bar during the erase the drive step, but that’s not an option for the actual install of the new OS X operating system.

    Has anyone dealt with this issue? Will an external mouse work (I’ll find out tonight when I bring one home)? Did you find a way to install the os without your computer mouse?


  • Can I just install Yosemite from here even though my computer most recently had Mavericks on it?

  • Help! Googled how to erase my Mac ink ? The erase part came up (we followed it) and now it’s got a globe spinning and loading. It was only after we erased it that we noticed there was beginning steps with a flash drive (we didn’t do these steps because all we saw when we searched were the steps to erase) what do we do now?

Josh Benson


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