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How to Perform a Clean Install of OS X Mavericks on a Mac's Startup Drive

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Install OS X Mavericks From the Bootable USB Flash Drive
Install OS X Mavericks From the Bootable USB Flash Drive

In the Disk Utility sidebar, select your Mac's startup drive, which is usually named Macintosh HD.

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Now that you have a bootable USB flash drive containing the OS X Mavericks Installer (see page 1), and a current backup, you're ready to start the clean install of Mavericks on your Mac.

Boot From the OS X Mavericks Installer

  1. Plug the USB flash drive that contains the Mavericks installer into one of the USB ports on your Mac. I don't recommend using an external USB hub for the installation. While it may work fine, sometimes you can run into an issue that will cause the install to fail. Why tempt fate? Use one of the USB ports on your Mac.

  2. Restart your Mac while holding down the option key

  3. The OS X startup manager will appear. Use your keyboard's arrow keys to select the USB flash drive, which, if you haven't changed the name, will be OS X Base System.

  4. Press the Enter key to start your Mac from the OS X Mavericks installer on the flash drive.

  5. After a short time, you'll see the installer's Welcome screen asking you to select a language. Make your selection and click the right-facing arrow button to continue.

Use Disk Utility to Erase the Startup Drive

  1. The Install OS X Mavericks window will display, along with the usual menu bar across the top of your monitor.

  2. From the menu bar select Utilities, Disk Utility.

  3. Disk Utility will launch and display the drives available to your Mac.

  4. In the Disk Utility sidebar, select your Mac's startup drive, which is usually named Macintosh HD.
  5. WARNING: You are about to erase your Mac's startup drive. Make sure you have a current backup before proceeding.
  6. Click the Erase tab.

  7. Make sure the Format drop-down menu is set to Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

  8. Click the Erase button.

  9. You will be asked to confirm that you really, really want to erase your startup drive. (You do have a current backup, right?) Click the Erase button to proceed.

  10. Your startup drive will be wiped clean, enabling you to perform a clean install of OS X Mavericks.

  11. Once the drive is erased, you can quit Disk Utility by selecting Disk Utility, Quit Disk Utility from the menu bar.

  12. You'll be returned to the Mavericks installer.

Start the Mavericks Install Process

  1. In the Install OS X Mavericks screen, click the Continue button.

  2. The Mavericks licensing terms will display. Read through the terms, and then click Agree.

  3. The installer will display a list of drives attached to your Mac that you can install Mavericks on. Select the startup drive you erased in the previous step, and then click Install.

  4. The Mavericks installer will start the installation process, copying the new OS to your startup drive. The process can take a bit of time, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more, depending on your Mac and how it's configured. So relax, grab a coffee, or go for a walk. The Mavericks installer will continue to work at its own pace. When it's ready, it will automatically restart your Mac.

  5. Once your Mac restarts, proceed to the next page to complete the OS X Mavericks initial configuration process.
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  6. Install OS X Mavericks From the Bootable USB Flash Drive

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