Fri 10/25/13 Burning a Mavericks Recovery Disc

One of the most useful features introduced in 10.7 is OS X Recovery, a hidden, bootable, 650MB partition that is automatically installed on most Macs1 running Mac OS X Lion. It gave users the tools to reinstall Lion from the internet, repair their disks, troubleshoot problems in Safari, access the Terminal, and even restore from a Time Machine backup without the need for optical media.

Unfortunately OS X Recovery was limited by the startup disk it is installed upon. It could not be used on a startup disk that is failing, or on a replacement drive where OS X has yet to be installed.

For these situations Apple created the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant, a 1 MB utility that lets you create a OS X Recovery partition on an external drive that has all of the same capabilities as the built-in OS X Recovery partition.
And despite being released on August 8th, 2011 it still worked just fine with OS X Mavericks.

But what if you wanted to burn a Mavericks Recovery CD?

The OS X Recovery Disk Assistant is limited. It only allows the creation of OS X Recovery on an external drive. To burn a Mavericks Recovery CD you will need to use Disk Utility instead.

  1. The first step is to reveal Mavericks’ hidden Recovery Partition. To do this you will need to enable Disk Utility’s secret Debug menu by entering the following command in the Terminal. defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled 1
  2. With the Debug Menu revealed launch Disk Utility and select “Show every partition” from the menu you just uncovered.
  3. You should now be able to see Mavericks’ hidden Recovery HD partition in the list of available volumes to the left. Select it, and choose New Disk Image from Recovery HD using Disk Utility’s File Menu.
  4. You can save your Recovery Image wherever you like using the compressed Image Format to save space.
  5. Once your Mavericks Recovery disk image has been created the last step is to burn it onto a CD.2 From within Disk Utility select Burn from the Images menu and select the Recovery Disk Image you just created.
  6. Once your Mavericks Recovery CD has been burned you can test it out by booting from it. Insert the CD into your Mac’s optical drive and hold down the C key as your Mac starts up.

Optical discs are on the way out, but having a disposable, reliable way to restore your OS over the Internet never goes out of style.3 Of course if you want to make a Bootable Mavericks Install Drive Dan Frakes has all of the instructions over at Macworld.


  1. OS X Recovery will not be installed on Macs that use a RAID volume for startup, or Macs that utilize a unique startup disk partition map. 

  2. The image itself is exactly 650MBs so you might need a 700MB CD to make this work. 

  3. A Mavericks Recovery CD made with the initial Mac App Store version of Mavericks will only boot those Macs released prior to Mavericks’ debut. Macs released after Mavericks’ debut will ship with a newer version of the OS X Recovery preinstalled. To boot those Macs a new version of the Mavericks Recovery CD must be made using the new Mac’s OS X Recovery parition. 

Newton