Apple releases OS X Lion Recovery Disk Assistant; creates Lion Recovery on external drive

Built right into OS X Lion, Lion Recovery lets you repair disks or reinstall OS X Lion without the need for a physical disc.

Apple’s just-released Lion Recovery Disk Assistant lets you create Lion Recovery on an external drive that has all of the same capabilities as the built-in Lion Recovery: reinstall Lion, repair the disk using Disk Utility, restore from a Time Machine backup, or browse the web with Safari.

Note: In order to create an external Lion Recovery using the Lion Recovery Assistant, the Mac must have an existing Recovery HD.

To create an external Lion Recovery, download the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant application. Insert an external drive, launch the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant, select the drive where you would like to install, and follow the on screen instructions.

When the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant completes, the new partition will not be visible in the Finder or Disk Utility. To access Lion Recovery, reboot the computer while holding the Option key. Select Recovery HD from the Startup Manager.

More info and download link (1.07 MB) here.


  1. This, and the price of a thumbdrive could save you an afternoon. Or save you several days if you’re travelling somewhere without internet access.

    1. NOTE: This utility appears to clone of the hidden “Recovery HD” volume onto an external drive, such as a flash drive.

      It is important to note that Recovery HD does NOT include the Mac OS X Lion installation files. What it does is start up the Mac to run various utilities, such as Disk Utility and the one that restores the complete startup volume from your Time Machine backup. And, if the user happens to want to reinstall Lion from scratch (instead of restoring from Time Machine backup or a disk image copy), it lets the user do that…

      HOWEVER, the Mac OS X Lion installation files are accessed from the Internet (by the installer) during the installation process; they are not already present.

      Recovery HD in an external drive is NOT the same thing as a bootable Lion installer flash drive (which does include all the installation files).

  2. I bought Lion and didn’t even run the installation before I created the install DVD (opening Lion Installer package and navigating to the .DMG image file of it). I installed it on my 3 Macs the old-fashioned way (booting from disc, running Repair Disk on the HD, installing).

    Having said that, I must admit, the hidden recovery partition is enormously practical. Anytime your Mac goes down hard (somebody yanks the plug on the iMac, power goes down, some stupid Flash app takes over everything), there is a high probability there will be an issue with the hard disk. The Mac will continue to work, but disk operations will be slower, as there will be inconsistency with data. Disk repair fixes this fairly quickly, but it can’t be run from Mac’s own disk; you must re-boot from another bootable disk/disc. It was always a hassle (never mind time consuming, with the slow spinning of DVDs) to look for the installation disc and boot from it. Having recovery on the system disk makes disk repair chores infinitely easier (for those rare situations when you need to do them).

    A side note: notice the spelling differences between disk and disc (one for hard drives, other for optical media).

    1. Is there a difference between a disko (place to go to get an illicit drink in Russia) and disco (place to go to get laid in America)? Is one for hard driving chargers and the other for hard drinking optics?

  3. This is pretty sweet.

    I now have 2 64GB flash drives with:

    – Recovery Partition
    – OS X Lion Install Partition
    – OS X Snow Leopard Install Partition
    – Apps/Utilities/Installers Partition

    Backpack is getting lighter all the time.

  4. “Note: In order to create an external Lion Recovery using the Lion Recovery Assistant, the Mac must have an existing Recovery HD.”

    When I try to create the thumb drive with Lion Recovery Disk Assistant, it says I don’t have a Recovery HD.

    What the hell is that? I installed Lion and there was no option to include a Recovery HD (whatever that is…). How do I create a “recovery HD”

    BTW – The first, second and third person to insult me is an asshole.

    1. The “Recovery HD” is created as a small hidden volume on the drive where Lion is installed. There is no option to include it or not include it during Lion’s installation. It is NOT visible in Finder or Disk Utility.

      To access your “primary” Recovery HD, restart with the Option key held down (which is the same step to access this new “external drive” Recovery HD). That gives you the Startup Manager screen during startup, where you can select from all available startup volumes. One of them will be Recovery HD.

      Select it and continue, and it is the equivalent of starting up from the ol’ Mac OS X installation optical disc (except faster).

      This “Recovery Disk Assistant” utility appears to be cloning the existing Recovery HD volume onto an external drive volume.

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