Resetting an old MacBook

So my son, a winders fanatic, is trying to reset his wife’s old MacBook (macbook2,1) running Snow Leopard 10.6. Of course they do not have the original installation disk - seems they threw out the tablets that was written on.

I have had no luck finding a way to do that. I believe there is a way to do that using Terminal but still have not found how to do that.

Please help me out here please before I have to reset him!!! It is so hard to talk with someone who claims nothing Mac will be allowed into his house. I’m sure there is someone who would like the MacBook for something, particularly some charity. Thanks in advance.

I don’t know how to help with the Snow Leopard issue (and I’m a fan of that version of the OS!). But my inner advice columnist is emerging to ask how does your DIL tolerate such a rabid Windows attitude in her life? And for that matter, what happened for that apple (so to speak) to tumble so far from the tree?

I’m sure it’s a matter of using a commercial version of the installation discs (didn’t Apple ship that on update DVDs?). But maybe offer to take custody of that poor orphaned MacBook before your son decides to smite it in the name of everything Microsoft.


RE rabid Windows attitude lol. My son and I like to give each other a tough time. He and his wife graduated from the University of North Carolina (UNC) which meant that as soon as we left Syracuse to come down to NC I immediately became a Duke fan :wink:

The MacBook was our daughter-in-law’s but has not been used for awhile. They lost the DVD’s. So I’m searching for a way to reset it. I loved your phrase “smite it in the name of everything Microsoft” - I will use that phrase on him. BTW he has 3 black belts and has a samurai sword in his study, so he may actually “smite it” - all in the name of Bill Gates I guess…


I can’t help out directly, but here’s some possibly useful information.

You don’t say which version of MacBook2,1 this is. It could be the late-2006 or Mid-2007. Either way, it shipped with Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.8 for the late-2006. 10.4.9 or 10.4.10 for the mid-2007). The most recent version of Mac OS X that is compatible with either one is Lion (10.7.5).

If you want to re-image it back to the original factory condition, you will need the bundled DVDs. I can’t help you get these. Sometimes you can find people selling them on eBay. I would not trust any downloaded disc image or burned-disc copy, since that’s a good way to get malware.

But if you just want to wipe the system, you can still download a Mac OS X Lion installer. You can make bootable installation media from it, then boot that, and erase the hard drive before installing Mac OS X.

You won’t get the pre-loaded software, but maybe that doesn’t matter to you. According to MacTracker, the bundled software is:

  • iLife '06 (iPhoto 6, iMovie HD 6, iDVD 6, iWeb 1, Garage Band 3). I think these, or newer versions can be download (or purchased if they’re not in your purchase history) from the App Store.
  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac test drive. This doesn’t matter, since it’s only a trial-size install.
  • iWork '06 (Keynote 3, Pages 2) 30-day trial. I think these, or newer versions can be downloaded or purchased from the App Store.
  • Comic Life
  • Omni Outliner
  • Photo Booth (is this part of the Mac OS X installation?)
  • Front Row (was a part of Mac OS X, but removed from Lion)
  • Big Bang Board Games. Sadly, no longer (legally) available, since the publisher, Freeverse Software, no longer exists.
  • Apple Hardware Test

Thank you for your advice. I downloaded the OS X Lion installer but am not sure what to do with the dmg. What I would like to do is burn the installer to a DVD that he can use on the MacBook but I worry about it kicking in to attempt to install on my iMac. I could transfer the download to a thumb drive which he could use to transfer it to the MacBook but that wouldn’t solve much.

Am I wrong - could I open the download on my iMac and have it install the installer on the iMac and then burn the opened installer to a DVD?

He has no desire to add the programs, simply wants to reset the computer to erase any personal information on the MacBook in order to either recycle or transfer the computer.

Thanks again for your assistance!

Indeed the easiest is to just install it to a thumb drive. DVD would work, but it takes forever to burn and then it takes forever to boot from. If you set up the thumb drive you can boot the old MB from that (insert thumb drive and hold option during boot, then select thumb drive) and nuke the MB. Or re-install a fresh Lion and gift the MB to somebody who can use it. Instructions for how to create the bootable installer thumb drive below. It’s a really simple process involving only the downloaded Lion installer and Disk Utility.

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You have a few options.

The DMG file contains the installer. Using it, you can upgrade the current system or you can install/upgrade a different device (e.g. an external hard drive or SSD).

If you want to preserve the existing system, you can install Lion to an external drive. Then boot from it to use the new system.

If you’re booted from external media, you can use the installer to erase and install Lion to the Mac’s internal drive.

The Macworld article @Simon linked to shows you how you can make a bootable installation DVD from the package. Modern macOS installers include a createinstallmedia script for making bootable flash drives and DVDs, but Lion is too old for that. Instead, you will locate an internal disk image and just burn a DVD with it.

You can then boot the DVD you just made to install Lion to any device (including the internal drive). Before the installer runs, you can launch Disk Utility to partition/format/erase the destination media prior to installation. This is probably the best thing to do if you plan to wipe the drive prior to selling or giving away the computer, since you don’t have the original system restore discs.

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This is the key. And don’t presume that once you’ve made a bootable installer on a thumb drive that you’ll just be able to pull it out after (say) 3 years to reinstall or install on another system. I had installers for three versions of MacOS, and very confidently tried to use one only to discover that the security certificate for it had expired. I had to do the work of preparing the thumb drive all over again, including the command line mumbo-jumbo.