How to Install macOS

This minHour teaches you how to do a clean install of macOS on your Mac using the recovery utility. Make sure your Mac is connected to a power source and has a steady connection to the internet during the install process.


Determine if you’re using a Mac with Apple silicon or Intel processor.

Most new Macs introduced in late 2020 and later transitioned to using Apple silicon in the system.

  • To do so, click on the Apple menu () > About This Mac, then check to see if it has an item labeled “Chip’ (Apple silicon) or “Processor” (Intel processor)

Shut down or reboot your Mac.

You will access the recovery utility this way.

  • Your computer needs access to the internet if you do not have a local copy of macOS.

Press and hold ⌘ Cmd+R right after you press the power button.

This key combination tells your Mac to reinstall the same version of macOS that was already installed. If you’re hoping for a different version, check out these alternatives:

  • To upgrade your macOS to the most current OS that is compatible with your Mac, press . For example, a Mac from early 2012 will not be compatible with macOS 10.15, Catalina.
  • On an Intel-based Mac, to install the macOS your Mac came with, no matter how out-dated, press . If you didn’t have 10.12.14, Sierra, this key combination will not work.
  • If you’ve never installed 10.12.14 (Sierra), using will install the OS without tying it to your Apple ID. Use this key combination to erase your drive before giving it to someone else.
  • On an Apple silicon Mac, you can also turn on your Mac and continue to hold the power button until you see the startup options screen. After that, click on the gear icon labelled “Options”.

Release the keys when you see the Apple logo.

You might see a spinning globe or a prompt for you to enter a firmware password.

  • If you previously clicked on “Options” in the startup options of your Apple silicon Mac, skip this step.

Choose if you want to erase your disk.

Be warned that this will erase your disk and you will lose all information on your computer. You can also opt to “Restore from Time Machine Backup” if you don’t want to lose everything.

Click to select Reinstall macOS.

This will reinstall the macOS but will keep your files and user settings intact.

Click Continue.

You will start the process of reinstalling macOS.

Follow the on-screen instructions to install macOS.

This includes selecting where to install the OS.

  • Do not put your Mac to sleep or close its lid during the installation process. You might see your Mac restart a few times, show a blank screen, and show a few progress bars, but that does not mean installation is done.

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