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How to activate Find-My-Mac – the hard way…

I found myself in a situation where I wanted to upgrade my Macbook Pro to OSX 10.7 Lion, but unable to do so due to a malfunctioning Firewire controller. This defect prevents the installer to boot and therefore, an upgrade was not possible. This also meant I couldn’t have the Recovery HD and the features it enables (like performing maintenance tasks without booting the complete OS). It also prevented me from using Find My Mac.

1. The installation of Lion.

To install Lion on my Macbook Pro, I made a clone of a clean installation on another Macbook Pro, a 2011 model in this case where mine is a 2008.

  • Make a bootable copy with Carbon Copy Cloner
  • Boot from it to see if it runs
  • Copy the partition to the internal hard drive.
  • To enable future reinstalls, I also copied the clean partition to a separate 12 GB partition on the end of the hard drive.

At this time I was able to boot and use OSX Lion. And I had the means to reinstall when needed.

2. Duplicating the recovery HD

To activate Find My Mac, so Lion says, I have to have a Recovery partition. I don’t have it because the partition gets installed by the Lion Installer and I couldn’t use that. So I did this;

  • Use the RecoveryDiskAssistant (Apple) on a “real” Lion computer. This will copy the partition to a USB device.
  • Repartition the internal hard drive of my Macbook Pro to add another partition (the partition only has to be 650 MB but the smallest I was able to create was 1.1 GB)
  • Copy the Recovery HD back to the hard drive (can’t use Carbon Copy Cloner here because the partition is not visible).
    • Enable the debug menu
      Shell commanddefaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled -bool true
    • Choose Show All Partitions in the menu
    • Use the Restore function of Disk Utility to copy the Recovery HD to the newly made partition
    • Un-Choose Show All Partitions in the menu
    • Disable the debug menu
      Shell commanddefaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled -bool false

Now the partition is there, I can’t boot it though because of the defect, but in any other situation it WILL boot (use the Option key on boot). This was not enough for Find My Mac though. It still requested the presence of the Recovery HD.

3. Fixing the partition type

There is one difference between “my” Recovery HD and an original one. “my” partition is not of the type Apple_boot. Mine is visible in Finder, whereas an Apple_boot type partition is not. This can be fixed using iPartition. Sure, there are open-source partition editors around, but iPartition does the trick in a safe-feeling GUI. The trick here; you can’t change any partitions type when it is on the same hard drive as the boot volume. Sigh… So I

  • Booted my USB copy of Lion (which I still had and have)
  • Copied the iPartition app to this hard drive and re-register the purchase
  • Closed all Finder windows that used the internal drive.
  • Use iPartition to change the type of Recovery HD to Apple_boot
  • Rebooted the computer.

And finally

4. Activate Find My Mac.

  • Open the iCloud panel in System Preferences
  • Activate Find My Mac
  • log-in on iCloud.com
  • verify my location

It’s surprisingly accurate :)

Questions, comments, please add them below :)

Author: Remon Pel

WebDeveloper though not WebDesigner

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