Updating and surviving a 128Gb MacBook

The 128Gb Apple MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are popular mobile computing options. The SSD-type hard drives are fast and reliable, however, the 128Gb size means that they’re very easy to fill. Unfortunately, the newest models have irreplaceable, soldered-in drives, and the earlier ones use a part that is produced by only a couple of companies and is quite expensive.

Read on to safely back-up your data, perform a  clean installation of the latest MacOS Mojave, and enjoy a refreshed, updated MacBook ready for years’ more use. There are five steps to the process…

    1. Back up your Mac
    2. Create a USB bootable copy of MacOS Mojave
    3. Erase and prepare the drive
    4. Install a fresh copy of MacOS Mojave
    5. Set up Time Machine allowing access to old files

1- Back up your Mac

The first step is to backup the existing data. Purchase a 2TB USB HDD here https://bit.ly/2Qm9Qv5 for the project. This WD model from JB HiFi includes both USB-A and  USB-C cables to suit both ports seen on recent MacBooks and is already Mac-formatted.

Close ALL of your open programs and finder windows, and plug the drive into the Mac. Select YES to the prompt to use this drive for Time Machine. The first backup to a new Time Machine drive will begin automatically in 2 minutes, however, may take a few hours to finish. Leave the Mac plugged into AC power so this can complete.

Double check that the contents of your drive have been transferred to the external USB HDD. Also, note the name of your internal drive- usually Macintosh HD.


2- Create a USB bootable copy of MacOS Mojave

Locate a 16Gb USB 3.0 drive. Plug it in, and format it correctly using these steps

    1. Open FINDER, locate DISK UTILITIES
    2. Select the USB stick, select ERASE, format MACOS EXTENDED [JOURNALED]
    3. Remember the name of the drive [usually UNTITLED]

Download the MacOS Mojave program from the Mac App Store. When it’s done, the installer program will open. Close this program.

Open the TERMINAL program from FINDER. Copy and paste the following, press ENTER and provide the password for your Mac when prompted. It’ll look like it’s not registering the keystrokes, but it is. Note in this example the drive was called UNTITLED. Change this if your drive has another name.


sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled — /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app


The process will take some time to complete, depending on the age of the MacBook. It will show a percentage processed. Issues preventing the process usually result from incorrectly naming or formatting the USB drive. The terminal window will tell you when it’s done. Close the TERMINAL window, safely remove the drive and shut down the Mac.


3- Erase and prepare the drive

The Mac need to be shut down at this point. Plug the USB installer drive you have just created into the Mac, hold down the OPTION key and press the power button. You’ll see an option of the existing internal drive, and your new installer drive. Arrow across and select the installer drive.

The MacOS Mojave recovery screen will open here. Open DISK UTILITY from the window. Select your internal drive, again noting name [usually Macintosh HD] and type [either APFS or MacOS Journaled Extended] in this window.

Erase the drive, ensuring it has the same name as before. Select the format as MacOS Journaled Extended at this point to avoid possible APFS firmware issues when reinstalling the OS.


4- Install a fresh copy of MacOS Mojave

Return to the UTILITIES menu, select REINSTALL MacOS, select your hard drive, and press continue. The process will take some time to complete, and when done, will return to the setup screen requiring you to choose your language, connect your WiFi, name the user, set a user’s name and password, and sign in with your Apple ID.

Set the user’s name the same as it was on the previous installation, usually your own name. Choose a password that’s different from your Apple ID, a good suggestion is to use a 4 or 6 digit PIN for this item to separate it from your Apple ID password to avoid confusion.

Do NOT restore from the Time Machine backup at this time, rather SET UP AS A NEW MAC. The intent of this exercise is to start again with a fast, fresh installation with only the software you need.

Reinstall your printer software, office software [either Apple’s software from the App Store or Microsoft Office from your Office 365 subscription] and browser choice [Chrome].


5- Set up Time Machine allowing access to old files

Plug the external drive containing the Time Machine backup into the Mac. When prompted, select YES to use this drive for Time Machine. Allow the first backup to run, it shouldn’t take very long as the newly updated Mac is basically empty.

Enter the Time Machine from the symbol in the menu bar. Scroll back to the documents or photos you’d like to copy back to the Mac, and select RESTORE.


[image credit: support.apple.com]


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