Hard Drive Wiped iMac (late 2012) - How to install new OS

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I have an iMac "Core i5" 2.7 21.5-Inch (Late 2012). It does not have a CD / DVD drive. I don't have an external CD / DVD player. The hard drive has been completely wiped. I have a copy of 10.6 on a disk but I am not sure if I can even install it should I figure out a way to get it on there.

I assume I need to get an OS onto a thumb drive and have it bootable. Not sure how to do that or whether OS 10.6 would work. I tried looking online for an more updated OS to download but was not having much luck.

Any help in the steps I need to do to get the iMac back up and running would be appreciated.

Thanks
 
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I assume you have not been doing backups, which of course could have "saved you".

What machine are you using to post your question here?

Do you have access to another Mac, and if so, what exact model is it?
 
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The iMac (Late 2012) that is wiped I bought used. The previous owner wiped the harddrive before I got it.

I do own an older iMac which is a 20" Early 2009. It has a CD / DVD drive and is running OS 10.10.5. As well I have an older 17" MacBookPro 5,2 (2009) which is running 10.6.8. I believe that was the latest OS I was able upgrade to.
 

Cory Cooper

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Hello and welcome.

That particular iMac will run a minimum of Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 through the latest macOS Sierra 10.12.5.

Since it doesn't have an optical drive, you would use the Recovery Partition or Internet Recovery to reinstall OS X.

How to reinstall macOS - use the Option -Command-R option.

C
 
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Thanks Cory.

I dont believe there is a recovery partition. Would the previous owner have wiped that as well? How do I check for the recovery partition?

How does Internet Recovery work if there is no OS on the system? How do I get the iMac started to the point where Internet Recovery is an option?

Option -Command-R option ? I did a search for that but not seeing anything right off the bat. Is there somewhere I can read more about that is?
 
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To see if the (hidden) Recovery HD partition is still there, turn on the iMac, and hold down the Command and R keys at the same time. If that partition is there, you'll see the screen shown in the following link about the Recovery HD partition:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201314

If it's not there, then you have a couple of options. The one I think could work would be to use your 2009 20" iMac to boot the newer iMac in "Target Disk Mode". This link talks about Target Disk Mode:

http://osxdaily.com/2010/04/07/how-to-boot-a-mac-in-target-disk-mode/

Your newer (ie, 2012) iMac has 2 Thunderbolt ports on it, while the older (ie, 2009) iMac has a Firewire 800 port on it. What you will need to do for connectivity is 1) purchase a Firewire 800 cable, and 2) purchase a Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapter (https://www.amazon.com/Apple-Thunderbolt-to-Firewire-Adapter/dp/B00SQ2CJUS). I actually have one of those adapters, and I used it before to connect external drives with a Firewire 800 port to my mid 2013 13" MacBook Air, which has a Thunderbolt port. The procedure would then be as follows:

1. With both machines off, connect the Firewire 800 cable to the Firewire 800 port on your 2009 iMac.

2. Connect the other end of the Firewire 800 cable to the Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapter.

3. Connect the other end of the Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapter to one of the Thunderbolt ports on your 2012 iMac.

4. Boot the 2009 iMac.

5. After the 2009 iMac has completed booting, turn on the 2012 iMac, and hold down the T key.

What (hopefully) will happen is that the 212 iMac's hard drive will appear on the desktop of the 2009 iMac. You can then "operate" on that drive.

You will need to decide which newer Mac OS you want on that 2012 iMac. As Cory mentioned, you have a number of choices. However, for the 2009 iMac, you can download any Mac OS from OS 10.10.5, Yosemite, up to and including the latest version of Sierra, OS 10.12.5. If you download either Yosemite or El Capitan to the 2009 iMac, the resulting file will be named "Install OS X Yosemite" or "Install OS X El Capitan". If you download Sierra, the name of the file will be "Install macOS Sierra". In all cases, that resulting file will wind up inside the Applications folder. Make sure to make a copy of it right away, and in another location. You'll see why below.

Now, the 2012 iMac has a 1 TB (5400 rpm) internal drive. So, if I were you, I would launch Disk Utility on the 2009 iMac, and have it Erase, Format, and if you want, Partition that 1 TB drive. One (or maybe the only one) of the partitions will be needed for the OS installation.

Once Disk Utility completes, launch that OS installer file you downloaded, select that location on the 2012 iMac's drive, and perform the clean, fresh, "virgin" installation of the OS you choose. Once that process completes, that installer file gets deleted. That is why I stated above that you need to first make a copy of that installer file somewhere else.

Finally, your choice of what Mac OS you want will possibly depend on what third party software you use. If you want, you can post that information here, and we can help you with getting the correct version of such apps for the Mac OS you want.
 
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Cory, oldscribe, and anyone else,

Please make appropriate comments about my post above. I think that will work, but I am unsure what versions of the Mac OS the op can download via the 2009 iMac.
 
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Hi everyone.

I was able to download and install 10.8.5 after doing an Internet Recovery after Command - R during start up. I did not realize it was possible connect the machine to the WiFi without an OS installed.

Thanks for everyone's help. I learned a few tricks in the process.
 

Cory Cooper

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Glad it's resolved.

I guess I should have been more clear in pointing out the How to restore macOS link in my post to the information about using the recovery options. I thought your iMac model would use Option-Command-R instead of Command-R to get to the Internet Recovery screen, but at least it worked! ;)

Now that you are running Mountain Lion, you can use the App Store to download and install macOS Sierra if you would like, In addition, you can download and install any other version of Mac OS X that you have previously "purchased" via the App Store - Mavericks/Yosemite/El Capitan. Mountain Lion is the oldest OS that your iMac will support though, as that is what it shipped with.

Anyway, enjoy the iMac,

C
 
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To add to Cory's excellent post, when you upgrade to a newer version of the Mac OS, make sure to check on your third party software. In a number of instances, such software might need to be updated also for compatibility with the newer Mac OS you want to get to.
 

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