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cactus jumper

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 17, 2014
This is a bit long winded, for which I apologies, but I want to make sure I've included all details.

Bit of background:

I need to reinstall the original OS that came installed on my Mac Mini because the Apple Store app has been deleted and without it I cannot get Software Updates: the Apple Store app is an integral part of the OS and cannot be downloaded separately.

The previous owner upgraded to Mountain Lion under their Apple ID so I cannot reinstall from the recovery HD as my Apple ID doesn't match the installed OS. I have been advised to completely erase the Mac using the Disk Utility in OS X Recovery which will install the factory installed OS (Lion) without the need for an Apple ID. Once Lion is installed I will then buy/install my own copy of Mountain Lion under my own Apple ID (I don't want Mavericks as there is conflict with some Adobe CS5 apps that I need).

So, I attempted to perform the erase: option-r on restart > Disc Utility > highlight the Toshiba HD showing top left of the window's side bar > click the erase tab > choose Mac OS Extended Journalled > choose a name (I chose Macintosh HD) then choose the number of security overwrite passes. When I press the 'erase' button I get the following window/message: 'Secure Disc Erase failed. Secure Disc Erase failed with error: couldn't unmount disc'.

So I tried again, but by mistake clicked on the Macintosh HD in the left hand side window of Disc Utilities rather than the Toshiba drive shown above it. As a result, I think I've erased the recovery partition (previously it showed as 10.8.2). Now, when I restart the Mac normally without any keys pressed at start up, I don't see my desktop/files/apps etc. (presumably because i've deleted the Macintosh HD) but get the OSX Utilities window showing the following options:

Restore from time machine back up.
Reinstall OS X (which I cannot do as the copy of OS X Mountain Lion is linked to the previous owner's Apple ID).
Get help online.
Disc Utility.

How can I get back to OS X Lion (the OS that was originally factory installed on this Mac) so I can then buy/upgrade to Mountain Lion?


macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
If you don't own them, Apple will sell you the grey installation did is we used to get with our Macs.

You don't say what the date or age if your mini is, but that's probably the only way back.


Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
How can I get back to OS X Lion (the OS that was originally factory installed on this Mac) so I can then buy/upgrade to Mountain Lion?

If your Mini is a mid-2010 or newer and has firmware updates applied, you should be able to get back to Lion using Internet recovery.

Do a command-option-r boot (hold all three keys at once) and enter your wifi password if prompted.


You should see this spinning globe while the recovery utility downloads.


You will then see this recovery screen. Launch Disk Util and select the Toshiba drive itself at the very top. Now go to the erase tab and select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) then name the drive and apply the changes. This will format the drive to HFS+ Mac format and remove everything from the drive.

Now quit Disk Util and click Reinstall OS and the 4.7GB OS will download and install.
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