How to Recover and Create Your Own Lion Installer

| MGG Answers


John writes: I downloaded Lion and installed it without saving the installer. Now, the installer is gone and I’m worried that I don’t have a backup way of installing OS X. Is there a way to make get the Lion installer back and create a bootable installer?


The answer is yes to both questions. Apple provides a $69 USB installer for Lion, but we’ll show you how to make one for free.

First, re-download the Lion installer using the instructions we provided in this quick tip

Once that’s complete, follow these instructions to create your very own Lion bootable installer (courtesy of TUAW).

Lion Installer Show Package Contents

The Package Contents of the OS X Lion Installer File

  1. Using Finder, locate the Mac OS X Lion Installer.
  2. Select the Installer and control-click (or right-click) it and select “Show Package Contents.”
  3. Navigate to the SharedSupport folder and find the file called “InstallESD.dmg.” This is the boot image for the Lion installer.
  4. Copy that DMG file out of the Installer package and onto your Desktop.
  5. Launch Disk Utility.
  6. For a bootable DVD, click the Burn button in Disk Utility, navigate to your Desktop and select the InstallESD.dmg file and select Burn.
  7. For a bootable USB key, navigate to the Restore tab. Drag the InstallESD.dmg file to “Source” and your USB drive to “Destination” and click “Restore.”

Once either process is complete, you’ll have a free, fully-functional bootable installer for OS X Lion.

This question was originally answered on MGG 363: Deciphering Mac Error Codes, Time Machine, & More

About MGG Answers:

Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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This is quite nice, but how do I do with my newly purchased Mac mini (I am not very willing to pay for a Lion-download…)


Hi guys, i second this, i have a new MBA and dont have any discs or ability to download from the mac app store.

I did find a link to an article that would walk you through how to access the recovery partitiion and use that, but i recall this not working for me…

Geeks to the rescue…


If Lion came with your newly-purchased Mac, you should be able to download it again from the Mac App Store. The bundled apps (iPhoto etc) are available that way too.

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