Several things may render it necessary for you to reinstall macOS Ventura or Sonoma on your Mac computer. Regardless of why, you can safely reinstall either of these macOS versions through the macOS Recovery functionality.
If you use this method, you can reinstall macOS without losing your data. If macOS Recovery isn’t working or you just wish to give your Mac a fresh start, you can wipe the data on your device, then clean install macOS Sonoma or Ventura.
Throughout this guide, you’ll learn how you can reinstall macOS on your Mac without losing any data. The guide also includes the steps you should take to wipe your Mac and clean install macOS.
Why Would You Reinstall macOS?
MacOS is essentially a reliable operating system that happens to be self-sufficient in many ways. Though rare, there are cases when the operating system (OS) fails to function as expected or crashes altogether.
Here are some of the things that may require you to reinstall your macOS:
- Firmware Problems – most firmware issues on Mac computers can only be solved by reinstalling the operating system.
- Corrupted macOS – your macOS software files may get corrupted over time. If this happens on your Mac, you have no option but to reinstall the OS.
- Mac Startup Problems – a bit different from firmware issues, your Mac may have a problem with its startup and bootstrap program. Reinstalling the OS through macOS recovery mode would resolve such problems.
- Malware or Virus Attack – Although Apple products are known to offer some of the best security features, they are still prone to virus and malware attacks. Certain virus attacks may affect the core functions of the operating system. This causes the system to malfunction or even crash. A macOS reinstall can fix such an issue.
- System Running Slow – if your Mac is running considerably slower than expected, despite having enough storage space, you need to reinstall macOS.
- Resealing the Mac – whether you are reselling or just giving your Mac away, you don’t want your data falling into the wrong hands, right? In such a case, it is best to wipe your Mac clean and then reinstall the macOS, as described later on in this guide.
Regardless of the reason, several methods may be used to reinstall macOS Sonoma or Ventura. However, it is highly advisable to first back up your Mac before starting as something can go wrong with the installation and render your data inaccessible.
How to Backup Your Mac using the Time Machine
There are multiple ways you can back up your Mac, including cloud storage and external storage devices. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll be using the TimeMachine, one of the most recommended Mac backup options, to create and save your data.
To backup your Mac using TimeMachine:
- Connect an external storage device with at least the same capacity as the internal drive on your Mac. For archival purposes, it is advisable to use an external drive that is twice the size of your Mac’s internal drive.
- With the external drive connected to your Mac, launch the Settings app on the Mac and navigate to System Settings.
- Click on the General tab and select TimeMachine to launch it.
- Click on the Select Disk or Select Backup Disk button on the TimeMachine window. This will open a pop-up window displaying a list of the possible storage options currently available. Select the external storage device you connected in step #1 above.
- Confirm this choice when prompted to do so.
- Now you can customize things a bit by clicking on the Options button. For instance, you can choose to encrypt your Mac backup data. You can even select the storage locations you’d like to exclude from the backup data, if any.
Note: Nominating an external drive as your backup location wipes everything previously stored on the drive.
Allow the Mac enough time to finish backing up your data. Once done, you should see the following prompt:
When you boot a newly wiped Mac, you’ll have the option to Restore your data from the Time Machine backup you just created.
How to Reinstall macOS Ventura or macOS Sonoma on a Mac
Having decided that you need to reinstall the operating system (OS) on your Mac computer, now you should ponder on whether you need to keep the data on your Mac. This helps you decide on the most appropriate way to reset macOS.
Depending on whether you wish to keep your Mac data, choose the most appropriate method to reinstall macOS from the following option:
Method 1: How to Reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode
Wondering how you can reinstall the operating system on your Mac without losing your data? Well, this method was designed to help you accomplish just that. Nonetheless, it is still advisable to backup your Mac before attempting to reset it.
If anything goes wrong with the reinstallation of macOS, you’ll have something to go back to. The procedure is pretty much the same whether you are reinstalling macOS Ventura or macOS Sonoma. In either case, it will only replace system files on the Mac—other data saved on the Mac will not be affected by the reinstall.
Note: Your Mac may restart multiple times throughout the process, just don’t try to stop the process or close the lid, if it is a laptop. Again, the process requires that you be connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network. Ensure that your Mac is connected to one before starting.
That said, here are the steps you should take to reinstall macOS via macOS Recovery:
Step 1: Boot Your Mac into macOS Recovery Mode
The procedure for booting into the Recovery mode varies depending on the Mac model you are using, as explained below:
- For Mac’s Running Apple Silicon
The procedure is the same for both M1 and M2 series Macs. To boot the Mac into recovery mode, press and hold the Power button until you get the “Loading startup options “ screen. Now release the power button and click on the Options button.
Finally, click on the Continue button.
- For Intel-powered Macs
If your Mac is running an Intel processor, press and hold the R + Command keys on the keyboard simultaneously. Keep holding the two keys until the Apple logo screen comes up on your display.
- For M1 Max and M1 Pro Macs
This is more of a special case as far as booting a Mac into recovery mode is concerned. If you are using such a Mac, shut down the Mac completely—either by pressing the power button or from the Apple menu.
Once the computer is off, press the Touch ID button to power it back On, and immediately press and hold the Touch ID button. Hold this button in the pressed position until the “Loading startup options” screen appears on the display.
Now click on the Options button and then the Continue button. This should boot the Mac into macOS Recovery.
Step 2: Reinstall macOS on Your Mac
The above-described steps should bring up the macOS Utilities window with multiple options for you to choose from. To reinstall the operating system on your Mac, click on the Reinstall macOS Ventura or Reinstall macOS Sonoma option—depending on the macOS Version currently installed on the Mac.
Note: If prompted to sign in, select the administrator account and use your credentials to log in.
Next, you should do the following to successfully reinstall macOS Sonoma or Ventura:
- Click on the Continue button to initiate the reinstallation process.
- When prompted to select the installation location, select the main drive on your Mac—it is the Macintosh HD drive by default and enter the administrator password when prompted to do so.
- You will be taken to the Terms and Conditions page. Just scroll to the end and press the Agree button.
- Confirm that you have read the terms and conditions and then press the Continue button.
Note: The next step will initiate the macOS reinstallation and you can’t cancel it midway. If you wish to turn back, you should do it now.
- Ensure that your primary storage location (Macintosh HD) is Selected then click on Continue.
Allow the computer enough time to complete installing macOS, this can take between 30 minutes and 3 hours from start to finish.
Method 2: Wipe Your Mac and Reinstall macOS Afresh
Although you may want to preserve the data on your Mac while reinstalling the operating system, sometimes, data loss is just inevitable. For some reason, your Mac may fail to reinstall macOS in the Recovery Mode.
In such an eventuality, you will be forced to wipe the Mac clean the install macOS from scratch. You may also need to wipe your Mac when reselling it giving it away. This ensures that your files and sensitive user information do not fall into the wrong hands.
The difference between reinstalling and erasing macOS is that erasing clears all your Mac data, hence requiring you to erase and install the OS. You may think of this as resetting your Mac as it effectively restores the computer to its factory settings.
If you don’t mind losing the data on your Mac, here is how you can Erase the disk and install macOS afresh:
Step 1: Erase the Drive on Your Mac
To erase the disk on your Mac, you first need to boot it to the Recovery Mode. To do that, reboot the Mac. As soon as you hear the boot chime sound, press the following key combinations:
- For Intel-powered Macs – press and hold the Command + R keys simultaneously
- For Macs Running Apple Silicon – press and hold the power button
This will boot the Mac into Recovery mode. If prompted, select your user profile and enter your administrator password.
Step 2: Run Disk Utility
Once you get to the OS X Utilities or macOS Utilities screen, select the Disk Utility option.
Find the Macintosh HD volume on the Internal tab of the Disk Utility sidebar—it should be the first item listed on this sidebar.
Note: If you cannot see a volume named Macintosh HD in your Disk Utility the volume may have been renamed. If not, navigate to the Apple menu on your Mac and select the Shut Down option.
Once the Mac powers off, unplug all the nonessential devices from its ports. Now boot the Mac back into the recovery mode Disk Utility. Check whether you can now see the Macintosh HD volume.
If you happen to have added volumes to the Startup disk using Disk Utility, you need to delete them one after the other. To do this, select one of the additional internal volumes from the Disk Utility sidebar and then click on the Delete Volume button on the toolbar.
Select another one of the additional internal volumes and repeat the procedure to delete it until you’ve deleted all of them. At this point, just ignore any internal volume named Macintosh HD – Data or Macintosh HD. You should also leave any volumes on the Disk Images and External tabs of the Disk Utility sidebar.
Step 3: Erase the Primary Storage Volume on Your Mac
Select the primary storage volume on your Mac—named Macintosh HD by default—from the sidebar. Now select the Erase button on the Disk Utility toolbar. This will bring up a pop-up window requiring you to select the name and format of the primary volume.
Click on the Name field and then select Macintosh HD from the drop-down menu. Next, click on the Format field to expand the drop-down menu. Select the APFS option from the format drop-down menu. Once you are ready, click on the Erase button to wipe your Mac clean.
Note: If your Mac happens to display a Volume Group click it instead of Erase.
Step 4: Reinstall macOS on Your Mac
Once the system is done wiping your primary volume clean, Quit the Disk Utility and navigate back to the main macOS Utilities screen. Now that the Mac has been wiped clean, you need to clean and install macOS Ventura or Sonoma.
To factory install macOS X on your Erased Mac:
- Select the Install macOS option from the macOS Utilities menu. Next, click on the Next button.
Note: Depending on the Mac model you are using, you may be offered an earlier compatible macOS version. In such a case, just click on the displayed macOS version to install it. Later on, you can upgrade to whichever macOS version you desire.
- Provide your Apple ID when required to do so. You’ll then get a prompt asking whether you are sure you want to erase this Mac.
- Click on the Erase Mac and Restart option.
- After the Mac restarts, select your preferred Language
The Mac will now try to activate—this step requires that the Mac be connected to the internet.
- From the menu bar, click on Wi-Fi to expand the Wi-Fi menu. Now select your preferred Wi-Fi network. Not so, you should connect a network cable to your Mac and establish a connection to the internet before proceeding.
- Once Mac is done Activating, click on Exit to return to the Recovery Utilities screen
To boot your Mac from the disk you just erased, select Reinstall macOS from the Utilities window. Click on the Continue button then follow the on-screen prompts to reinstall macOS on your Mac.
Alternatively, you can reinstall macOS Ventura or Sonoma on your Erased Mac using a Bootable USB drive, as explained below.
Method 3: How to Reinstall macOS When macOS Recovery is Unavailable
Starting with macOS X 10.7 Lion, Apple started offering macOS Recovery as a fallback option on their operating systems. This option allows boot into the Disk Utility and other functions without having to mount a startup drive each time you need to do that.
By default, Recovery occupies a rather small partition on the startup drive. Though conveniently available, this partition may get erased by accident. If this happens to your Mac, you may have a hard time resetting macOS via recovery.
If the recovery partition is missing or corrupted, you may get the following symptoms:
- Your Mac fails to enter Recovery mode despite following the right procedure.
- Error code 2003F comes up on your screen
- The display goes black when you try to boot the Mac into recovery mode
If you are having a problem booting a Mac into recovery mode or reinstalling macOS in this mode, check whether you are missing the Recovery partition. The following steps will help you accomplish just that:
- Launch a new Finder window on the Mac and then navigate to Applications > Utilities
- Open a new Terminal window
- Paste the following command into the Terminal window:
- Press the Return button to run the command.
Executing this command displays a list of all the drives and partitions on your Mac.
- Check whether this list includes either APFS Volume Recovery or Apple_Boot Recovery. If you cannot find such an item on this list, it means that your Mac is missing the recovery partition.
If your Mac is missing the recovery partition, you may try the following solutions to reinstall macOS:
Solution: Restore or Reset the PRAM
Resetting the PRAM on your Mac could restore the missing recovery partition. To reset PRAM on your Mac:
- Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the Option + Command + P + R keys simultaneously.
- Hold these keys down until you hear the startup chime sounds for a second time.
- Once the Mac has started, use the above-described procedure to check whether the recovery partition has been restored.
If the partition has been restored, you can now reinstall macOS via Recovery. If not, try the following methods to reinstall macOS Ventura or Sonoma without recovery.
Method 3: Boot into Internet Recovery
If resetting the PRAM failed to restore the macOS recovery partition, how then do you reinstall macOS without recovery? Provided that the Mac can connect to the internet, you can try booting into Internet Recovery instead.
In its functioning, this method connects your Mac to Apple’s servers to download and restore the missing or corrupted recovery partition. All you need is a reliable network for this method to work. In M1 and M2 chip Macs, the internet recovery mode launches automatically when the recovery mode fails to work as expected.
If you are using an older Mac, you’ll have to enter the internet recovery mode manually, as follows:
- Restart the Mac then immediately press and hold down the Option + R + Command or Shift + Command + Option key combinations.
- Release the keys as soon as the Apple logo appears on your display
- Connect the Mac to a WPA/WEP-secured Wi-Fi network
If successful, your Mac will boot into the Internet Recovery mode. If so, you should see the message, “Starting Internet Recovery” alongside a spinning globe icon. After some time, this message will be replaced by a progress bar.
Finally, the Mac should bring up the conventional macOS Utilities window. If you get to this screen, you can now reinstall macOS using macOS recovery. Simply select the Reinstall macOS option and follow the steps described in method #1 above to reinstall macOS.
Note: the Internet Recovery mode on Mac only works on networks that use either Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or Wi-Fi Equivalent Privacy(WEP) security protocol. Ensure that the network you are connected to is up to these standards.
Method 4: How to Reinstall macOS Using a Bootable USB Drive
A bootable USB drive is usually used to clean install or upgrade macOS. However, you may also use it to reinstall macOS on your Mac. This option will come in handy if you cannot reinstall macOS in the recovery mode, as described in the methods above.
This method comes as the last resort when your Mac fails to boot into recovery mode as well as the Internet Recovery.
To create a bootable installer disk for the macOS version you wish to reinstall, you will need:
- The macOS Installer file
- A USB drive with a capacity of at least 16 GB
The following steps will help you create a bootable macOS drive and use it to reinstall macOS on your Mac:
Step 1: Download the macOS Installer File
First, you need to have an installer for the macOS version you’d like to reinstall. Assuming you had previously downloaded this macOS version from the App Store, you should be able to re-download the required files.
To do this:
- Find a working Mac and launch the App Store by clicking on its icon.
- Navigate to the Purchases tab on the App Store window—you can find your previously downloaded upgrades here even though you no longer need to pay for them.
- Find the macOS version you wish to reinstall and select it. Next, click on the Install button next to the macOS version you just selected.
By default, this downloads the chosen macOS installer to the Applications folder on your Mac and is named macOS [Version Name].
Note: You can also get the installer file from the Downloads section of Apple’s official website
Step 2: Use Terminal on Your Mac to Create a Bootable Drive
With the installer downloaded, you need to run a few commands on the Terminal to create a bootable drive. These steps will help you accomplish that:
- Plug the 16 GB USB drive into your Mac.
- Open a new Terminal window from the Utilities folder on your Mac.
- Depending on the macOS version you are working with, enter the following command into the Terminal window:
For macOS Ventura:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Ventura.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume
For macOS Sonoma:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\Sonoma.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume
Note: Volume in the above commands should be the name of the USB drive, so edit it accordingly.
- Having entered the code into the Terminal, press the Return key to run it
- When prompted, enter your administrator password then press the Return key.
Now, you’ll get a prompt asking whether you wish to erase your USB drive. When you do, press the Y keys to consent and then press Return to run the command. The system should now display a progress bar that shows the percentage of the drive that has been erased.
Wait until the system completes erasing the disk—the progress bar gets to 100%–before doing anything else.
- At this point, you may get a prompt asking you to grant access to your removable USB drive. To consent to this request, click on the OK button.
At the end of it all, your removable drive should have the same name as the macOS installer file you downloaded in step #1 above. When the process is completed, just exit Terminal and eject the USB drive.
Now you have created a bootable drive that you can use to reinstall macOS, as illustrated below.
Step 3: Reinstall macOS Using the Bootable USB Drive
At this point, you should have a bootable drive that may be used to clean install or reinstall macOS. The procedure for reinstalling macOS from a bootable drive varies from one Mac model to another as follows:
- Apple Silicon Macs
Does you Mac run on an Apple Silicon processor? If so, plug the bootable drive into a USB port on the Mac and connect the Mac to the internet. Next, ling-press the power button until the Utilities window appears.
Now select the bootable USB drive from the displayed options and then click the Continue button. Follow on-screen prompts to complete the installation process.
- Intel-Based Macs
If yours is an Intel-powered Mac, insert the bootable drive into a USB port on the Mac. Ensure that the device is connected to the internet. To reinstall macOS from the bootable USB drive, long-press the Option key on the Mac until a list of volumes appears.
Select your bootable USB drive from this list of volumes and then press the Return key. Now you only need to follow on-screen prompts to complete the process.
Right from software glitches and viruses to the system running slower than normal, there are many things that may necessitate the reinstallation of macOS. If you’d like to reinstall macOS without losing your data on the Mac, use the recovery mode or Internet recovery method.
In the event that these two have failed, you can always wipe your Mac clean and then install the OS from scratch. Regardless of the method you decide to use, this guide will help you reinstall macOS Sonoma or Ventura on your own.