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Strange thing happened. I want so sell my old Macbook and therefore used a disk image of the Snow Leopard DVD that I restored onto an external drive. I booted off the drive and went through the installation steps.

Now I really would like to perform "archive and install", as there might be some files that I need later, but I didn't see the option. The only options for installation I had, were, including others, optional printer drivers and Rosetta. So I just clicked through and I wasn't given any other option.

After about 45 minutes, my system booted again, and voila, there was my old system. Nothing changed.

How should I proceed to actually reset the system? All I have is that Snow Leopard DVD image.

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Perhaps you should just try again, this time not "just click through", and see what your options are. If you have a recent backup, consider erasing the disk first as described here. – Daniel Beck Mar 13 '11 at 21:33
Bummer, how could I have missed that? Erasing seems to do the job, but I would really like to "archive and install". And I remember having seen this option (somewhere) before. – slhck Mar 13 '11 at 21:43
"A&I" is gone in Snow Leopard. It's the default AFAIK when not erasing. You might need to check to make sure that you don't keep user accounts, printers and applications around though (that's the default IIRC). That's why I suggest you try again, this time with eyes open ;-) – Daniel Beck Mar 13 '11 at 21:45
The options I have are: Languages, Printers, Fonts, X11, Rosetta and Quicktime 7. No option for user accounts though. I'll just go ahead and erase. Thanks for the insight! – slhck Mar 13 '11 at 21:50
Nope, not these options (features). There's another dialog IIRC, where you decide what to keep. I could be wrong though. – Daniel Beck Mar 13 '11 at 21:51
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Both the Archive and Install and Erase and Install options were removed in Snow Leopard (along with the "Options" button that used to allow access to them).

You can get the effect of an Erase and Install by erasing the disk with Utilities menu > Disk Utility before installing.

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There's no way (that I know of) to mimic an Archive and Install without mucking around at the command line.

As I understand it, the main reason Archive and Install was there was to allow downgrading (i.e. reinstalling over a newer version). Snow Leopard is capable of doing an in-place downgrade, so the A&I capability was deemed redundant.

If you're selling the Mac, A&I is the wrong thing to do anyway. You really should back up everything you might need (the entire disk if you're not sure) to an external drive that you're going to keep, and then do a full erase of the internal drive to make sure the buyer isn't getting any of your private information.

share|improve this answer
@slhck Your edit broke the post in the second to last paragraph. Gordon really was referring to Archive and Install, as he mentions A&I as abbreviation shortly afterwards. – Daniel Beck Aug 21 '11 at 14:42
@Daniel Thanks for the reminder -- copy/paste error. Fixed now! – slhck Aug 21 '11 at 14:43

IIRC, there is an option (button?) on the install disk's first screen which opens up the options you're looking for. (They've tried to make upgrading be the straight-through path, so any other kind of install requires you finding an option screen). Another approach would be to

  • Make a new admin account and log into it;
  • In Sys Prefs | Accounts, delete your old account. System will offer to make .dmg of it and leave it in (I think) /Users.
  • Make 2 copies of the .dmg on separate media.
  • Now go back and do an erase and install of SL.

Edit: Upon trying my install disk this morning, I found only a Utilities button which will, among other things, let you erase the hard disk before doing an install, but doesn't seem to offer archiving (at least, I wasn't willing to go any farther to find out!). So I guess making and saving off a .dmg is the best & only solution for this case.

This support note from Apple describes how to restore the machine to factory defaults, but note: it will not save anything from the current installation. Do that first, if you intend to do it at all.

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That's a nice solution! – slhck Mar 14 '11 at 9:09

I'm not sure we have the hole picture or totally understand the situation, but one thing is for sure, if you have a time machine plugged in your system and clicked ok during install, it is totally possible you restored a full system as you were going along the necessary steps.

If any help, when selling our equipment, I usually recommend copying all the data to another source, with the use of a backup drive, time machine, network or a plain external drive.

Then you want to be sure and erase using at least a 3 pass solution (either using the install DVD in the disk utility - in the top menu or using a linux DVD with similar commands). Unless you're working with the NSA, this should be more than enough to remove data on you're drive.

Always remember that if the user folder is on a MAC, it will always keep this information and reload it on command....

Can you please give us more info if my answer is not responding to your need?

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No, I don't have a time machine disk. Actually, I'm not looking for a particularly NSA-proof-solution, the Macbook will be for a friend of mine. I just didn't see an option to actually "wipe" the system. – slhck Mar 13 '11 at 21:40

From what I gather, you'd like to make it as close to factory defaults as possible for your friend.

Once you have backed up anything you need/want, to restore OS X, re-run the inital setup from whatever disk image you have, then boot into single user mode (Command-S) and follow these commands:

mount -uw /

Depending on which OS X variant, you may have this file and folder

cd /private/var/db/netinfo   
rm -R local.nidb


cd /private/var/db
rm .AppleSetupDone
rm .AppleCustomMac    // I think this is OS X 10.4 specific
touch .RunLanguageChooserToo
cd /users
rm -R "username"  // whatever users you have, other than share

That should wipe out any localized options, and leave the system as it would be from the box.

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But what about any custom folders I created or the /Library? I don't really see the point in your procedure, no offense, but what is the difference between this one and just erasing and installing? – slhck Mar 16 '11 at 20:39

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