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How to Use a Disk Image to Recover your Mac

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 4/7/2010

If you ever need to use a disk image or restore point to recover your Mac, you’ll use Disk Utility, your backup hard drive and backup files, and your Mac OS X CD.

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    Disk Utility is most often used to test and repair disk partitions and directory structures. Disk Utility can be used under other circumstances as well. For instance, Disk Utility also allows you to format and partition disks, and configure complex disk structures. You can use Disk Utility to format an external drive, perform basic first aid on your computer, and restore to a backup you’ve created. In this article, we’ll look at the latter.

    To use Disk Utility to restore your Mac using a backup you’ve created:

    1. Connect the external hard drive that contains the backup to the new, replacement, repaired, or somewhat disabled Mac.

    2. If your Mac is on, put your OS X CD in the CD drive and restart it. If your Mac is off, hit the Power button and insert the OS X installation CD during the boot process.

    3. Hold down the C key while booting to boot to the Mac OS X CD and select your language.

    4. From the Utilities menu, select Disk Utility.

    5. Select the drive the backup is stored on.

    6. Select the Restore tab. You have several options here. If you restored to an external disk, you’ll need to select that disk and drag it to the Source window. If you restored to an iPod, you’ll need to select that disk and drag that to the Source window. If you created a .dmg image, you’ll need to click the drive you saved the image to (do not drag it), click Image, and select the disk image from the drive you stored it on. It becomes your Source and will automatically appear in the Source window.

    7. In the left pane of Disk Utility, click your hard drive and drag it to the Destination window.

    8. Check the Erase Destination checkbox to erase your old Macintosh HD and replace it with the disk image you’ve selected as the Source.

    9. Click Restore. Click OK to verify.