macOS could not be installed


ColinBird

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Hi,
Just switched on my iMac after being away for a while and get the message "macOS could not be installed on your computer", followed by "The path /System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg appears to be missing or damaged. Quit the installer to restart your computer and try again." I've clicked the Restart button but the same happens again.
In case it's relevant, I bought the iMac in December 2014, when it had the description "Me088b/a 3.2 I5/8/1/27". The operating system was pre-installed; this machine does not have a DVD reader.
I would be very grateful for advice on how to overcome this problem.
Thanks in advance - Colin Bird
 
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honestone

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Need to ask some questions:

1. What Mac OS is on the iMac?

2. If you upgraded from one Mac OS to another, did you do the upgrade "in place", that is, basically let the new OS overwrite what was on the machine already?

3. This is critical: are you making backups to an external device? If so, what software are you using for that?

4. Have you ever done any disk cleanup/maintenance/repairs, from a software perspective? There are some excellent programs available (both free and commercial) that can help you with those tasks.

5. How are you making posts here? If it's via another Mac, what exact model is it?

6. Before you turned on the machine this most recent time, what were you doing with it before?
 

ColinBird

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Thanks for the prompt reply:
  1. High Sierra, but to anticipate my answer to question 6, I don't know which update level.
  2. The upgrade to High Sierra was several months ago and was, as I recall "in place".
  3. I have a memory stick backup of my Documents folder, but no backup to an external device.
  4. I have used "sudo periodic" and the Disk Utility in the past, but see my answer to question 6.
  5. I am using a MacBook Pro, running Sierra 10.12.6
  6. I have been away for nearly three months. My son has been using it during that time, without any issues as far as I know. He's now away himself, but I'm trying to contact him.
 

honestone

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Thanks for the reply. Some more questions, along with some comments:

1. Really need the exact MacBook Pro model you have. Also, are you making backups of stuff on that machine?

2. Do you have anything critical that you need on the iMac?

3. I just tried to google that description of your iMac, "Me088b/a 3.2 I5/8/1/27", and nothing came up. Really need the exact model designation.

4. You really need to do backups. And disk cleaning/maintenance/repairs need to be done often also. Disk Utility is not enough. Also, not familiar with "sudo periodic".

5. Why did you upgrade the iMac to High Sierra?

It's important to remember that owning and maintaining a Mac is just like owning and maintaining a car. Neglecting to do that will eventually lead to issues. Yeah, Macs are definitely more reliable, but so are Toyotas and Hondas. Still, one needs to do maintenance on such reliable cars. Macs are no different. (We have a 2013 Toyota Camry, purchased brand new. Yes, it is steady as a rock, but I still make a concerted effort to keep it maintained. Same with both of my Macs).

The reason we need the exact models of both of your Macs is that with the proper cables, your MacBook Pro can be used to try and fix things on your iMac. It's called "Target Disk Mode", and this link describes it:

https://www.howtogeek.com/214322/how-to-boot-your-mac-in-target-disk-mode-for-easy-file-transfers/

Ignore the "ads" on that link about CleanMyMac. That program (MacKeeper is another bad one) will cause more harm then good.
 

honestone

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I was hoping you would have given answers to those questions, so that I (and maybe others) could offer you more advice/assistance. There are still some things you need to do/decide on before actually using Target Disk Mode.
 
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ColinBird

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Sorry. I didn't notice that you'd asked more questions before what you said about maintaining. I was in the middle of an online chat about an unrelated issue that arose while I was away.
  1. I've uploaded a screen grab of the MacBook information. I back up the Documents folder selectively to memory sticks.
  2. I have copies of the important data files.
  3. The Me088b is the only information I have, taken from the sales receipt. I can't find any information on the back of the machine itself.
  4. I'd be grateful for recommendations about system backups and maintenance. It is something that's been worrying me for a while.
  5. There was no special reason for upgrading. Friends who had upgraded said that they had not had any problems, so I thought "why not?"
I have now been able to talk to my son and he confirms that all was well when he last used it. One possibility that has emerged from talking to him is that we might have had a power cut after he last used the machine. That is only a 'might' but maybe it could have occurred while the iMac was updating automatically.

Thanks again for your help - Colin
 

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honestone

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Thanks for that. The will be somewhat long, but I want to assist you as best as I can. So, here goes:

1. This looks like your MacBook Pro:

https://everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/specs/macbook-pro-core-i5-2.5-13-mid-2012-unibody-usb3-specs.html

Note that it says it has a Firewire 800 port. That is important for Target Disk Mode.

2. While such copying is OK, you really need to do backups to an external device (see #4 below).

3. OK, I googled "Me088b", and it looks like this is your iMac:

https://everymac.com/systems/apple/imac/specs/imac-core-i5-3.2-27-inch-aluminum-late-2013-specs.html

Note that it says it has two Thunderbolt ports, which is also needed for Target Disk mode. The iMac's internal HDD spins at 7200 rpm (decent), whereas the one inside the MacBook Pro spins at 5400 rpm (somewhat slow, but typical for laptops. I have SSDs inside both of my Macs).

4. OK, first backups. The Mac OS comes delivered with Time Machine, which is OK for backups. But the other method is to use software that makes a bootable backup/clone of your system. The 2 excellent products that do that are SuperDuper! (I use it), and Carbon Copy Cloner. Note that I said bootable. Time Machine backups are not bootable. It's almost like having another computer. This thread I started back in November, along with excellent comments by others, would be good for you to read:

https://www.mac-help.com/threads/backups-backups-backups.223959/

Next, disk cleanup/maintenance/repairs. You can do a good amount of disk cleanup on your own (get rid of old stuff you do not need, get rid of prior versions of software (if you have those, ie, the "original" source files), etc.). One thing I do just about every day is that when I delete an EMail I also have such EMails permanently deleted/removed. I use Outlook 2016, and it is easy to do that. Not sure how to do that with other EMail programs. Most folks around here use Apple's Mail program, so maybe someone can "chime in".

Here are some excellent freeware programs you can use for disk cleanup/maintenance/"limited" repairs:

Onyx - Available from here: https://www.titanium-software.fr/en/onyx.html

Rock Solid, has been around a long, long time, and has had many positive reviews. I use it religiously (along with a commercial program entitled Tech Tool Pro). I would not be without either of them. In fact, I will not upgrade to a new Mac OS until there are compatible versions of both of them for the new OS (along with 4 other critical programs that I have). Note that there are different versions of Onyx available, for each different Mac OS. So for example, if you wanted to use it on your MacBook Pro, you would download and install V3.3.1.

AppCleaner - Available from here: https://freemacsoft.net/appcleaner/

Another stellar performer! As you can see via that link, it will get rid of most stuff associated with an application that you wish to delete.

GrandPerspective - Available from here: http://grandperspectiv.sourceforge.net/

Nifty graphical way to see which files are on your drive. Good way to identify large ones that you might not need.

Malwarebytes - Available from here: https://www.malwarebytes.com/mac/

Good to use if you see adware and/or suspect you might have a virus. It also is good to run it every so often, even if nothing is wrong.

ClamXAv - Available from here: https://www.clamxav.com/

More extensive than Malwarebytes in terms of finding viruses. You can use it in demo mode, and it still has just about full functionality.

Then of course you can use Disk Utility to check out your drive and/or do repairs. It's not as extensive as Tech Tool Pro (https://www.micromat.com/products/techtool-pro), Disk Warrior (https://www.alsoft.com/diskwarrior/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9qzeqcSF2gIViWp-Ch0NngwsEAAYASAAEgJg7_D_BwE), or Drive Genius (https://www.prosofteng.com/drive-genius-mac-protection-software/), but it gets the job "mostly" done. I use Tech Tool Pro, and in fact it is the only third party one so far that is fully compatible with High Sierra (that's the OS I use on both of my Macs).

OK, it might be best if you first "take all this in" before I (and maybe others) suggest a strategy of how you can proceed. (I also need to eat breakfast!).

But just to confirm one thing: you have copies of important stuff on your iMac on memory sticks, and thus would not lose anything critical in case the internal hard drive in your iMac is Erased and Formatted, correct?

One other thing: are you using any third party (ie, non-Apple) software on your iMac that you must have? If so, where are the original source files for such software?
 
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ColinBird

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Many thanks. I really do appreciate your assistance. I will read everything carefully before doing anything more.
One more piece of information. My son has just told me that he shut the iMac down properly before leaving, so the problem could not have been caused by a power cut. I'm guessing it could be a disk error.
Thanks again, more tomorrow - I'm in the UK.
 

honestone

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OK, good. Do not do anything further until you are done "absorbing" all that information.

I gather that with your installation of High Sierra, there is some kind of setting that allows automatic updates. That is not always good, and in fact, it is best if you manage that yourself. It's actually easy to download a new version of the Mac OS, either from the App store, or from apple's site (via your browser). It is better for you to have control over it.

High Sierra actually offers very little (if any) advantages over Sierra. Supposedly, this APFS business (actually only applicable to SSDs) is the "big" thing. But I have SSDs inside both of my Macs, and in fact, High Sierra is somewhat slower than Sierra, in terms of booting up, shutting down, and switching startup devices. And I keep both of my Macs "lean, mean, and clean".

One of the things you might want to consider is to install Sierra onto your iMac (after Erasing and Formatting the internal drive). Again that depends on whether or not you need any information form there. As it is, your iMac has a 1 TB drive (your laptop has a 500 gig drive). How much space are you actually using on each machine?

Finally, our oldest son lives in London, in Richmond (we are located just south of Seattle). We have been to London about 6 times, and it is OK. Kind of expensive, especially compared to Seattle (although housing costs have been going through the roof here, with Amazon and Boeing doing so well (along with some other companies)).
 

ColinBird

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Thanks again!

Here are photos of the ports on the iMac and MacBook, both of which seem (to me, anyway) to agree with the specifications. The photos are low quality, because I needed to reduce their size before uploading.
iMac ports.jpg
Macbook ports.jpg


I've checked my box of 'goodies' but don't have a Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 cable, so will need to go and get one.

I've read through your backup advice and am chastising myself for being neglectful. I guess I had too many years tacitly relying on IT support doing backups automatically, behind the scenes. An external hard drive has to go on the shopping list.

To the best of my knowledge, I would not lose anything critical if the iMac had to be erased and formatted. Documents and data are either on memory sticks and/or in Dropbox; photos are on duplicated DVDs; applications I can simply download again.

Replying to your final paragraph, we're about 60 miles south west of Richmond: still quite expensive but nowhere near London prices. Interestingly, a good friend moved to Seattle last year (her husband works for Facebook) and told me that she had been surprised by the cost of some things there, particularly services.

Lastly, logistics ... although I would like to get the iMac running again as soon as possible, next week is going to be quite full, in the aftermath of being away for nearly three months. If sometimes I seem a bit slow to respond, it means only that some other activity has got in the way!

Thanks again for your help.
 
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honestone

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OK, useful information. But it would be good to know if you need all that space on each machine. For the iMac, given that it has a 1 TB drive, you might want to consider partitioning it. The amount of space for each partition needs to be determined by you, and what you would use each partition for (and thus what is stored on each one). At a minimum, one of the partitions will need to have the Mac OS on it.

OK, here is one possible strategy:

1. Download the OS file from the App Store onto the MacBook Pro. Apple has been kind of "anal" somewhat recently about which versions of the Mac OS one can easily get. Given that you have Sierra already, one would normally assume that you would be able to see Sierra in your "Purchased" items. But I STILL can't see it there (nor High Sierra for that matter. I do see El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, and Lion there. Really strange!). Whichever one you get, after the download is complete, there will be a file entitled "Install macOS "Whatever"" inside the Applications folder. For example, if it's Sierra, it would say "Install macOS Sierra". Immediately make a copy of that file to another location.

2. With both machines off, connect them via the Thunderbolt-to-Firewire adapter and the Firewire 800 cable.

3. Start up the MacBook Pro. After it gets to its desktop, startup the iMac in Target Disk Mode.

4. Launch Disk Utility on the MacBook Pro, and let it verify that the internal hard drive on the iMac is OK. Assuming it is, have Disk Utility Erase, Format, and if desired, Partition the iMac's drive.

5. Navigate to that "Install macOS "Whatever"" file inside the Applications folder, launch it, and proceed to do a fresh, clean, "virgin" installation of it onto the iMac.

6. Restart your iMac, and proceed through the setup. Then populate it as you wish.

As I mentioned above, you should disable the automatic update of the Mac OS. To do that, here are the steps:

1. Pull down the Apple menu and navigate to System Preferences. Or click on the System Preferences icon in the Dock.

2. Select the App Store System Preference.

3. De-Select “Automatically check for updates.”. Also de-select all the boxes underneath that one.

As of "now", if you download High Sierra from the App Store, you'll get the latest version, V10.13.3. However, V10.13.4 is in the sixth phase of beta testing, and thus it could be released very soon.

As I also previously mentioned, for whatever third party apps you want to download and install, make sure to get the version that is compatible with High Sierra (or with whatever Mac OS you install).

Finally, start making backs for both of your machines. Myself, I have 2 external devices, each of them containing a Samsung 850 Pro 512 gig SSD. I have both of those SSDs partitioned into 3 partitions. 2 of the partitions are for my SuperDuper! bootable backups/clones of my late 2012 Mac Mini and my mid 2017 13" MacBook Air. The other partition on each SSD is for storing miscellaneous "stuff".

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
 
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ColinBird

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Thanks once more ...

Three questions before I go out to buy the adapter and cable:
  • What would be the advantages of partitioning the iMac drive?
  • How do I startup the iMac in Target Disk Mode?
  • By pure chance (clicking the link to a thread with a similar name) I came across a post from last November and have attached a screen grab below. Would it be worth trying shift+alt+cmd+r on the iMac first. If it worked I could presumably download the OS file directly to the iMac? BTW, the only macOS I can see on the App Store is High Sierra.
Cheers - Colin

Reset install.png
 

honestone

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OK, here are the answers to your questions:

1. Partitioning the drive would be better from an organizational perspective. Also, if say you "only" needed 300 gig for the Mac OS, your applications, and some data files, performance would be better too. And the size of the backup would be based on that partition (with the OS and apps).

If, however, based on how you need to use the machine, if you need all that space for apps, storing files, etc., then Partitioning would not apply.

2. As I mentioned, first, with both machines off, connect the 2 of them. Then, start up the MacBook Pro. After it gets to its desktop, start up the iMac while holding down the T key on its keyboard.

3. There seems to be some software "damage" to the iMac. It would be best to start fresh with it, and thus checking out its internal drive, and then Erasing, Formatting, and if desired, Partitioning it.
 

ColinBird

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Quick update ... will be collecting the adapter and cable from Apple tomorrow (had to order the cable). All being well, the action starts tomorrow tea-time.
 

honestone

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Sounds good. Just make sure to follow the steps in the order I stated. Have you downloaded High Sierra already to your laptop?
 
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ColinBird

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Just tried and am nervous about the following popup:
Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 12.34.29.png

The last thing I want to do is to install High Sierra on my laptop, as I have agreed with the University that I won't do it. Can I be certain that the process will stop once the download is complete? Thanks.
 

honestone

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You can quit that process at that time, ie, when you first download it to your laptop (just press the Command-Q keys at the same time on the laptop's keyboard). Next, make a copy of that "Install MacOS High Sierra" file in another location on your laptop. Then, after following the directions above about having the iMac boot in Target Disk Mode, and letting Disk Utility Erase and Format the iMac's internal drive (and, if you desire, Partition it), when you launch the file "Install MacOS High Sierra" inside your Applications Folder, you'll be offered the opportunity to choose where you want to install it. Just choose the iMac's (Empty) internal drive.
 

ColinBird

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Thanks. To be honest, I'm having to delay the install, owing to other things getting in the way. It would be a help to know how long the process is likely to take, assuming it goes well.
 
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honestone

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OK, first things first.

As I mentioned above, before you connect the iMac in Target Disk Mode to your laptop, the download of the High Sierra file will take some time, between 3 and 5 minutes I guess (depending on your internet connection). Then, after connecting the iMac in Target Disk Mode, the tasks of 1) using Disk Utility to Erase and Format the iMac's internal drive, and 2) the installation of High Sierra onto that drive will take about 30 to 45 minutes. Beyond that, you will need to do all the setup information on the iMac, including the downloading/installation of apps, etc.
 
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