Making your several year old macbook (or desktop) feel like new again

A black Apple MacBook, photographed on the pro...

Image via Wikipedia

I purchased my discontinued stylishly black Macbook in October 2008. Since then, I have spared about 3GB of space on the hard drive. Oh, I see that you assume my computer has become painstakingly slow and pretty much filled to the brim with data I no longer use. Heh, I would not fault you for that assumption.

If this feels familiar: you never want to leave apple, but want to start over and DON’T want to live in poverty (Macbook pro’s are expensive!). You can do what I did. Wipe that bad boy. It is liberating.

Here is what you will need:

  • An external hard drive larger than the amount of data on your system.
  • MacOS X Lion or your original MacOS install disc
  • A decent internet connection or a bunch of extra time on your hands. Seriously, if you can’t get your connection working, you may be stuck without a computer until you can, or you make a trip to the apple store.

Step one:

back up ALL yo sh*t. It happens, you have something important on your computer that you forgot about. Once you wipe it, it’s either going to be gone for good or extremely difficult to get back. If you don’t already have an external drive, I recommend the Toshiba Canvio, because it has a pretty high quality and space to price ratio. The cheapest place I could find it was amazon. It will require reformatting, which is not too tough I will quickly explain in the next post.

Once you have your hard drive all set, you can basically just open finder, select all the folders inside Macintosh HD and drag them to your external hard drive

(WARNING do not simply drag Macintosh HD to the hard drive, if you do, it will only create a shortcut. It will not copy the files. MAKE SURE you select all the folders inside Macintosh HD, or you won’t copy anything).

Note: They may not let you copy your Library or System settings.

Everything backed up all right? Good. You should probably double-check that you can open some of them on a different computer just to be sure : )

Step Two (If you have your restore disc this is optional, but lion is a pretty nice looking OS, so be a champ):

Open the app store and download Lion. Go ahead and install it. It will create a system backup drive on your computer.

Step Three:

Restart your computer and hold command-R. This will bring you to the OS X Lion Recovery drive. From here you can wipe your drive and reinstall Lion.

Step Four:

Man up. It is tough to part with everything you have accumulated over the years. All the memories you and your hard drive have shared (heh). You need to be strong now. With an ending comes a new beginning.

Go to Disk Utility. Select Macintosh HD. On the right, choose erase from the horizontal menu. Then click erase at the bottom. Exit disk utility, click reinstall Mac OS X, and follow instructions. Soon enough, your computer will feel shiny and new once again.

If you have trouble with anything or get confused, feel free to post questions!

I hope you find this helpful/yay,



3 thoughts on “Making your several year old macbook (or desktop) feel like new again

  1. Excellent post and advice. I actually did this a few months ago to my white Core Duo MacBook that I purchased back in 2006. After 5 years, my Mac still runs like a champ… especially since I’ve replaced the old 60GB to a 500GB, upgraded the RAM to 2GB from 512MB, replaced the optical drive to a newer and quieter version (Apple actually did this for free out of warranty), and even replaced the Airport chip from an 802.11g to 802.11n. Plus, Apple replaced my keyboard top case (for free, at that because of the chipping issue everyone seems to have along the edges), which basically made my computer feel brand new. Top it off with a silicone keyboard cover to keep dust out of my keys, and I have a laptop that I can see myself using for at least another 1-2 years… However, I can’t hold back anymore — I’ll be getting the Ivy Bridge MBP 15″ when it comes out… I can’t wait. Still this Mac has been a workhorse for me for the past 5+ years. It’s got me through college and now grad school. Amazing piece of hardware. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, and wow thats awesome!
      It is always good to see Apple standing by their products and supporting customers.
      If I have time this week, I also plan to post a tutorial for dual booting ubuntu on a mac if you’re interested.

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