Apple’s support document for FileVault 2 (a.k.a. “full disk encryption” or “FDE”) has lots of information about enabling FDE and what it means for booting the machine. However, it doesn’t cover one very important thing I’m trying to do: mount the drive in the Recovery HD environment to reinstall OS X on it.

The Recovery HD environment asks me for the volume passphrase so it can mount my drive and try to install OS X onto it. If this were an external drive which I’d manually enabled FDE on with diskutil, or an external Time Machine volume, I’d know it because it makes you pick one (just like a regular login password), but FileVault 2 never asked me for a volume passphrase (I assume it selects one behind the scenes). I’ve tried my main user’s password, but that doesn’t work, and neither does the recovery key set for the volume. Keychain Access doesn’t have anything that I could find.

How do I unlock this volume?


It should say "Enter a password to unlock the disk".

Give it a password you would use for one of the users at the startup login screen, then select the disk.

(HT4811 could explain this better, perhaps...)

  • This was exactly what I was trying to do… but I’d forgotten that my Dvorak layout doesn’t persist into the Recovery environment. Keyboard layouts! – cbowns Nov 17 '11 at 16:40

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