How to install macOS
Updated October 2022: Apple has changed the way you can reinstall MacOS. Via Internet Recovery you can get the latest MacOS or the current version of MacOS on the Mac.
To get the latest MacOS restart holding down Option + Command + R keys. This is the one we recommend because it has an almost 100% success rate.
To get the version of MacOS on your system, restart holding down Command + R keys. This usually gives you the wrong OS and is not recommended.
Unfortunately Apple does not have a way to select the version of MacOS you want. To get a specific version, make a USN installer.
Please note Macs earlier than mid 2010-2011 can not use Internet Recovery and require a macOS USB installer. What format to initialise the new SSD?
From High Sierra, Apple has a new drive format structure. When you upgrade to High Sierra, Apple changes your drive format structure to APFS. High Sierra will only reliably work on a drive formatted as APFS.
If you are installing High Sierra the SSD needs to be in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for the installer to recognise the SSD. The installer will change the SSD to APFS during the install.
To install Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura: initialise the SSD as APFS.
To install High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite and earlier: initialise the drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) How to get the latest macOS on a new SSD?
To reinstall using OS Recovery you need an internet connection, either wireless or ethernet cable. To start up using OS Recovery, start up your Mac and immediately hold down one of these combinations of keys.
Reinstall the latest macOS that was installed on your Mac.
This will upgrade to the latest OS compatible with your Mac. (recommended)
Reinstall the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version that's still available.
How to use Migration Assistant
Apple includes an awesome app called Migration Assistant that we have used to help customers start over with a fresh macOS but keep all their data and applications. Apple allows a lot of different installation and migration options. We will discuss the main ones here, but if this does not answer your migration question, please contact us for more specific information about the upgrade you are planning.
What is Migration Assistant...why should I use it?
Migration Assistant allows you to transfer applications, settings and data from another Mac. macOS can see "another Mac" as your old hard drive or a Time Machine back up. A mac can boot from an external drive, for example, if you put your old hard drive into an external enclosure, you can boot from it, and run that hard drive and it would be exactly the same as your old mac...because it is!
If you just want a new macOS, start fresh with no legacy upgrade data, then you can use Migration Assistant to reinstall all your data and apps, and you will have the benefit of a new macOS with all the apps and data from your old drive.
How to use Migration Assistant
After you have installed the new macOS, the system starts and asks for generic information: country, keyboard type etc. The next part of the installation setup is Migration Assistant.
If you have installed a new SSD, you can use either your old hard drive in an external enclosure or a Time Machine back up as a source for Migration Assistant.
The example in the image below, a Time Machine disk is connected and to be used
Select the machine you want to restore from in Time Machine
Then select the type of data you want to migrate
That is it! You should have a new macOS with all your applications and data restored back on the system.
Time Machine: why you should use it
Time Machine has many features that can make your life easier when upgrading to an SSD.
You should be backing up on a regular basis and Time Machine is Apple's built in back up software that is easy to use.
To create backups with Time Machine, all you need is an external storage device. After you connect the device and select it as your backup disk, Time Machine automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup disk is full.
If you connect a new external drive to your mac you should see this window pop on the screen
If you dont get the pop up you can go to Time Machine app and select disk or add Disk.
The software will set up automated back ups. If you periodically connect the Time Machine, if it does not automatically start you can start a backup manually, choose Back Up Now from the Time Machine.
First the most asked question we get: Does Time Machine back up the operating system or macOS?
If your Time Machine is backing up your whole drive, yes the macOS is backed up. You have a complete back up of your Mac. You do not have to download macOS to use your Time Machine. In Sierra and High Sierra we have seen Time Machine go off to the Apple website to verify or update core files. It is not totally understood what is happening, but it is not uncommon for Time Machine to get additional files from the Apple website before restoring a Time Machine back up. Usually these files are to do with the recovery partition on the Time Machine or the Disk Utilities page.
Restore on a new SSD and the Double Clone
One of the best features of Time Machine is you can you it to restore to a new SSD. We have outlined the process in our Four R Restore from Time Machine. What if you dont have a Time Machine and/or you have not been backing up your data? No judgement here, but here is a way to fix all that. We call it the Double Clone.
The Double Clone
Instead of ordering a clone cable or an external clone case, you buy an external drive. A 1tb or 2tb drive is a good size, the major brands are Toshiba, Seagate, Verbatim or Western Digital. You dont need the SSD version, just a standard external drive.
Format the external drive. Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your Mac onto the new drive. Install the new SSD. Restart the Mac holding down the Option key. Select the new cloned external drive. You are now running your Mac off the external drive. Use Disk Utilities to initialise the new SSD. Open Carbon Copy Cloner and do a second clone, this time from the external drive to the new SSD. When the clone if finished, shut down the Mac, remove the external clone and restart the Mac. Go to System Preferences and set the start up disk to the new SSD. Open Time Machine, plug in the external drive, if you don't get the pop up window asking to turn the drive into a Time Machine, then select disk or add Disk and start a new Time Machine. Please note it will erase all the clone data, be sure your new SSD is working as expected before erasing the clone. That is the Double Clone: get a new SSD and a new backup system with Time Machine!!
Rebooting off Time Machine
Time Machine does not have a recovery partition, however you can use it to restore your Mac or install a new macOS. If you want to use Time Machine in this way, plug the Time Machine into the Mac, then restart the Mac holding down the Option key. This loads the boot manager and you can see all drives attached to the Mac. The Time Machine should display as an external drive. Select it and the Mac will build a macOS Utilities page that will have Disk Utility (to initialise a new drive or erase a current drive) and install a new macOS.
How to create a macOS USB
There are a lot of options to create bootable USB to install macOS. We use the recommended method from Apple.
This is our summary of how to make a macOS USB drive. With this drive you can install macOS on a blank SSD or boot from this USB and use the tools and utilities to check or format a Mac drive.
Go to the App Store, search for macOS Ventura and download. After it has downloaded it should appear in your Applications as "Installer MacOS". If you have already downloaded and upgraded, you will need to download the MacOS again (Apple deletes installer once it has been used).
You need at least an 16GB USB drive. For best results use a USB 3.0. You can use an external hard drive (note: any data on the drive will be lost as it gets formatted). Go into Disk Utilities and rename the USB to "upgradeable". You can erase and rename. The MacOS creation method will reformat the drive, so it does not need to be any specific format type like Fat32 or Mac Journaled. What is important is the name of the drive, as it is used in the code below.
We are going to use the command line app called Terminal to create the MacOS drive. Don't worry if you have never used it, it is very easy, not that scary. Open Terminal, it is found in the Utilities folder in Applications.
Copy this code
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Ventura.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable
Paste the code
Paste the code you copied into Terminal and hit enter. It will ask for your system password (usually the one you log on with at start up). Type Y
and return when it asks if you want to erase this drive. When it is
finished creating it will display "Copy complete". You can close Terminal.
How to use the USB
When the USB or external drive is plugged in, restart the Mac holding down the Option key. The USB will appear on screen as Install MacOS. Select and hit return. You do not need to select a network. If you are installing the macOS on a new SSD it will need to be initialised. Go into Disk Utility, Erase and name. Proceed to install macOS.
Other macOS codes
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Monterey.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable
How to initialise an SSD
When you get your new SSD it is uninitialised. This means it can be used in a Mac or PC. It needs to be initialised before use. In the PC world they call this formatting the drive. In the Mac world it is called Erase and it is a function of Disk Utilities
Disk Utility is a tool included in many places. It is found in the Utilities directory in Applications. It is included in any macOS install app. It is found in the recovery partition on a drive when a Mac is restarted holding down the keys Command + R. It is also a part of the Internet Recovery boot up. There are many reasons why you would want to erase a drive, this guide is focused on initialising a new SSD, however for readers who are looking at general information we have added the following warning...
Warning: Erasing a disk will delete all data on the disk. Never initialise/erase a drive that has data on it that you want to keep. I know that sounds obvious but you would be surprised with the support calls we get :-). Four steps to initialise a new SSD.
New APFS format in High Sierra and Mojave
Starting from macOS High Sierra, Apple have a new format called APFS. It is recommended to format your new SSD in APFS if you will be using High Sierra or above. APFS is optimised for SSD drives. If you are using macOS Sierra or below, the recommended format is still Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
Open Disk Utility
When you start Disk Utility, in the sidebar are the drives attached to the Mac. Select the disk name, not the indented volume name.
Click on the Erase button. If there is no erase button select the drive again.
There are two to three fields that need to be selected.
Name: Enter a name for your disk, such as "Macintosh SSD"
Format: Choose APFS (for High Sierra or Mojave) or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for earlier macOS like El Capitan
Scheme (if available): Choose GUID Partition Map
Click the Erase button and the SSD will be ready to use.
How to clone with SuperSuper!
Please note: this process cannot be used to clone a Windows partition created by Boot Camp. We recommend WinClone by Twocanoes Software. It is commercial software requiring a license to use, however it is not affiliated with our company and that is not an affiliate link.
Before cloning, the SSD needs to be initialised, if that has not been done, please follow our instructions above.
The process is really only two steps...download and run. Superduper! is very simple but powerful piece of software.
Download and install
SuperDuper! software by Shirt Pocket (free download).
When the download is complete, install in your Applications folder.
Double click on the SuperDuper! icon to run
Choose your source (Macintosh HDD) and destination (Macintosh SSD) drives. Click Copy Now to begin. You will be notified when it is complete.
My cloned drive will not boot
From Big Sur macOS Apple introduced "Signed System Volume". This means only a disk "sealed" by Apple can boot. The cloning software we recommend uses Apple's replication utility to make a duplicate but we are still getting reports of cloned drives that will not boot. If you are having an issue, here are some troubleshooting tips.
If you have cloned your drive, after installation, it will not boot, the quick and simple solution is to reinstall macOS. Now that the OS is in it's own separate disk volume, reinstalling the OS does not affect the data on your drive. To get the latest macOS, restart the mac holding down the keys "option" + "command" + "R" and the mac will use internet recovery to download the latest OS that will run on your mac. Choose option install macOS and follow instructions. Do Not format or initialise the drive.
If you want a specific macOS version, you can only do that by creating your own macOS USB installer. See instructions above.
Install macOS and there is an option at the end of the install to transfer data from another Mac. Connect your old mac drive, transfer the data onto the new macOS.
Simple Questions answered
Is the SSD the same physical size as my current hard drive?
Yes. The standard Apple Mac Mini 2006-2012 hard drives are an industry standard 2.5 inch notebook drive. They are physically exactly the same physical size.
Can I use any SSD here to upgrade my 2014-2019 Mac Mini?
No. From 2014 the Apple Mac Mini SSD was a proprietary NVME SSD. The 2019 Mac Mini SSD was soldered onto the motherboard and can not be removed or upgraded.
Does the 2014 Mac Mini use a standard M.2 SSD?
No. It is only standard in it's physical size. A standard M.2 drive will not work. Apple has made their drives proprietary.
Are the 2.5 inch SSD drives faster or better the larger the size?
All our current SSDs are the same speed and quality. The 250GB is as fast as the 2TB.
Do I need a bracket to install the SSD?
Can I do this install myself?
Yes. We have had customers of every type of experience: students to pensioners do this upgrade. It is only slightly more complicated than a RAM upgrade.
Do I need any special tools?
For the pre 2013 models you need a small phillips screwdriver and a Torx 6 screwdriver. These are standard tools, found in many kits and available at hardware stores like Bunnings. Everything you need is in our screwdriver tool kit. The Aura SSD kits include all the tools you require.
Can I clone a bigger drive onto a smaller SSD?
No. If you have 900gb of data on a 1TB hard drive, you can not clone this onto a 525GB SSD. The cloning software we recommend does not selectively clone. It is all or nothing.
Does the hard drive and the SSD have to be the same size?
No. As long as the source (current hard drive) has less data than size of the new SSD. So 300GB on a 1TB hard drive will clone onto a 525GB SSD.
What size SSD should I buy?
We recommend you look at how much data is on your hard drive and then get an SSD at least 20% bigger than the data you have. We have found the optimal free space for an SSD to work with virtual and swap files is 20%. Aim for 30 to 40%. It all depends on your work flow and how much data you store and delete.
Can SuperDuper! clone a windows parition?
No. We recommend Winclone for this type of clone.