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Is OS X installed on replacement SSD, else how to install it?

I have bought a macbook air with 64 GB SSD and wish to replace it with a 128 or 256 GB SSD. Suppose I can by the here at iFixit though I can't find them at shop currently. But before I buy, I have to know if OS X is installed or how to install OS X.

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OS's Are never pre-installed on any virgin drive.

Many drive makers format external disks, but rarely do on internal drives. If they do its for MS Windows, not Mac OS-X, and you'll need to reformat the drive before you can use it.

OK, you'll need to get an external case to house your SSD or prep up a USB thumb drive as a bootable drive. I would recommend the USB thumb drive as you can verify it is working before opening the system and besides setting up a drive to deal with mishaps is a good idea! You still want to get the external case to repurpose your old SSD and besides you may want to move some old stuff over to your new bigger SSD.

Download if you haven't already the OS installer from the App store. as an example here's a link to the current version: OS-X Yosemite.

Once you have downloaded it make a copy so you have a spare copy (placed in a different folder and/or drive).

As to getting an external case to house your SSD this is what we use: OWC Envoy. With the case you can use your old SSD as a backup drive.

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I succeded using the following method: Replaced the old SSD with the new bigger SSD, directly out of the package. Put the old SSD in a external housing (OWC Envoy), connected it to the computer via USB and started the computer. It automatically started from the old SSD. Formatted the new SSD and went to appstore for MacOSX. Choose the full installer and used it to install OS X onto the new SSD. Let it restart and could then disconnect the old SSD. A really simple operation.

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And of course, after the system install you can recover your user data/applications from the external drive during the initial setup. You can also restore from a Time Machine backup, or later using Migration Assistant. A warning, though: If you set up a new user account clean, and then attempt to migrate a user account with the same name, it turns into a hot mess.

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General info comment, just to get it on the record: OWC now has an external USB 3.0 enclosure for the M.2 SSD storage cards installed in June 2013 and later Mac Pros, MacBook Airs, iMacs; Late 2013+ Retina MacBook Pros and Late 2014+ Mac minis.

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If you've already gotten the bigger drive and an external housing, you can also do the swap the other way around:

  • Mount the new drive in the external case
  • connect the drive to the computer through USB
  • format the external drive using Disk Utility
  • clone the internal drive to the external drive using a utility like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper!
  • install the now-bootable external drive into the Macbook Air and
  • do whatever updates make sense

If your current setup has a Recovery partition, you can download a new installer from Apple and install it on an external drive. With your current drive installed, hold down the Option key before powering up your computer. Two volumes should appear: Your main drive and a Recovery partition, which is normally used to repair the main volume. A system reinstaller is one of the utilities in the Recovery partition; it will download a new installer from the App Store, and install it on the drive you choose.

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