Reviving Macbook Pro, no installation disks

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by tinselworm, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. tinselworm, Oct 15, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017

    tinselworm macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2012
    I've got a late 2009 Macbook Pro 15inch A1286 that I was planning on giving to a friend. Stupidly I wiped it earlier thinking I'd got the original installation disks to hand. Turns out haven't.

    This in itself isn't the end of the world; I can probably find the disks. But I discovered while playing around with the machine earlier that the CD/DVD drive is spitting out any disk I put in it.

    So... in summary, I've got a computer with no OS installed on the book disk, and — even if I did have the installation disks to hand — a DVD drive that is rejecting any disk I put in it.

    Any suggestions regarding what I can do about this? For example, let's say I find the installation disks, can I create a disk image of the original install disk on an external drive and boot off this?
  2. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Yes, easy to do that.
    Insert the DVD. Launch Disk Utility. plug in an external USB drive, or, even better, a USB flash drive (8GB would be ideal for this)
    From Disk Utility, choose the Restore tab. Use the DVD as the source, and the USB drive as the destination. If you are using a USB external hard drive, you can add a partition through the Partition tab in Disk Utility, as part of the preparation for this task, or just to erase the flash drive before you start.
    So, Restore the DVD to the external USB drive. This will take some time, maybe up to 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the speed of the DVD drive, and the condition of the USB drive (a flash drive that has been erased multiple times will take longer. But, wait for the restore to finish, and that will give you the installer media that you need.
    You can do a similar process with versions of OS X from Lion and newer, but you can do all that through the terminal, or using one of the utility apps that specialize in making bootable installers for OS X/macOS.
  3. tinselworm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2012

    Thanks. I just realised I have no way of doing this as we don't have another mac in the house that has a DVD drive!
  4. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Ah, yes --- exactly!
    You don't need a Mac with a DVD drive. You can use an external DVD drive to transfer the files to your media.
    If you don't have anything in your house, then --- do you know anyone who WOULD have a DVD drive, which you can either use on THEIR Mac, or borrow an external DVD drive that you can use?
    (Or, you need a DVD drive now - maybe you can justify the $40 or $50 to get one that you may use occasionally (like you need one now :D )
    Another option would be to purchase a USB thumb drive, already loaded with an OS X installer.
    You can find those with a simple search on eBay, etc.

    Or --- if you can download an OS X disk image (not too difficult to find), you can make your own installer on your own USB media.
  5. tinselworm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2012
    Thanks — regarding the OS X installer disk image. I tried this after I posted the original message. I found a 10.5.7 installer which I believe matched my original pre installed system version. Press option at launch, select the boot disk... and... my mac freezes. I then tried a disk image of 10.6.7 which I had on an external drive. If I press option at launch and select the disk then the mac starts to run the installer (to the point where I select language) before telling me that I can't run the installer (which I imagine is because it's a newer version than the one originally shipped with the machine).
    In the case of the former I'm not sure if it's because I'm using retail versions of the installer instead of specific disks that would have been shipped with the machine (I read somewhere that the disk shipped with the machine had other necessary launch software bundled on the disks that the retail versions wouldn't have).
  6. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    The 10.5.7 image that you tried would be for a specific Mac model, and (unless you can be sure you have the correct image) won't install on a different Mac model.
    (A little trivia here: There's two different 10.5.7 installers for mid-2009 MBPros. One will install on either 15-inch MBPro model. The other installs only on 13- and 17-inch mid-2009 MBPros, but NOT on 15-inch models. Neither installer will work on any other Mac.
    The 10.6.7 image won't work on any 2009 model, and again, is for a specific Mac model. Your Mid-2009 MBPro would boot to media created from that image, but will not install.
    Neither of those images are retail versions. Leopard last retail version is 10.5.6, and the Snow Leopard installer (still available as a new DVD from Apple) is version 10.6.3

    So, unless you have the original installer DVD that shipped with your mid-2009 MBPro, nothing else will work to install Leopard, even Apple's retail Leopard DVD. There are methods to do this, but that requires another Mac that CAN boot and run the Leopard installer (an older MBPro or iMac would work fine for that), but even that would not work unless you have a copy of the retail disk, and NOT the specific installer image that you already have.

    Long post - but this can be a confusing issue :D
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get a USB flash drive, 16gb or greater in size.

    Get the OS installer of your choice (needs to be on a working Mac)

    Then, use ONE of these:
    - Boot Buddy
    - DiskMaker X
    - Install Disk Creator
    ... to create a bootable USB flash drive installer.

    Then, connect the installer to the old MacBook, boot up, and do a fresh install.

    I'd suggest using El Capitan, which can still be downloaded from Apple.
    If you want an older installer, you might have to go "elsewhere" (cough, choke... to "unapproved" sources)...
  8. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    What OSX does OP want?

    I have another mac and downloaded and created a usb boot drive in my 2007 imac (iffy DVD drive) of el capitan and upgraded my 2010 macbook

    since then upgraded to sierra and now high sierra.
    8GB or bigger pen drive an another mac is all you need.
  9. tinselworm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2012
    Thanks very much for the useful info guys.

    Rewind a little... I was under the impression I HAD to install the original system version on my Macbook pro to begin with (using the supplied system disks) before I could upgrade to a newer version? Is that not the case? Fishrrman and elf69 are suggesting installing El Capitan right off the bat? Can I do this?! If so then I'm an idiot.. duh.

    DeltaMac; I'm not sure if I fully understood what you're saying in the first part of your post...
    Are you saying a retail version of 10.6.3 will install on my 2009 Macbook pro if I can make a disk image of it? Because I do actually have the 10.6.3 retail DVD. But I assumed because it wasn't supplied with the computer it wouldn't work for the purposes of doing a complete fresh install (i.e., in substitute of the system disks?)
    Aside from this I think from what you're saying I need to find a 10.5.6 release? Is that about right?

    Also I think I know where you're going regarding the other method (booting up in target disk mode and installing off the other machine). I'm not in a position to do this right now though.

    Thanks guys!
  10. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Yes, you can erase your drive and install any later, compatible OS X system. No need to reinstall the original factory-supplied system. El Capitan should install without problems - assuming you have sufficient RAM, and you have a functional drive installed (best results with an SSD :D )

    The 10.6.3 retail DVD will work fine. It's simply newer than the original system. It will install fine to an erased drive (or you could upgrade a Leopard installation that might be already installed - no problem doing that!) Or 10.7 or 10.8, or any system up to and including El Capitan. Any of those can be installed to a freshly formatted drive, for that "clean install" that everyone talks about doing.
  11. tinselworm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2012
    Thanks so much for clarifying. Feel a bit foolish for not realising this! That's pretty much resolved my issue!

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10 October 15, 2017