Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making your Macbook Air USB Drive Read-Write

So, you want to re-use that cute little USB recovery drive that came with your Macbook Air?  You're supposed to officially say "yeah I want to update it to be a Lion recovery disk," but this fanboy knows you just want to have an adorable, Apple-branded USB drive that fits in your wallet.  Admit it .. if only to yourself.

The ultimate how-to for this, and what I'd recommend, is MacBenTosh's YouTube video.  It explains everything perfectly.  But I know I'm gonna need to do this again, so I'm writing my own abbreviated notes:

  • Download the Chinese windows-only low-level USB formatting tool.
    • It's a mine-field of ads and baited clicks.  Pay attention.
  • Pop the USB drive into your windows machine and run the formatting tool.
  • Click "Scan USB."
  • When it finds the drive, click its "Port n" line to select it, then click "Start."
  • The USB drive is now read-write and formatted FAT32.  (Geez that was fast.)
    • I leave it like this, for cross-platform compatibility.  I lose fanboy points for that.
  • That's it!  Have a nice day.
BTW, you don't need to go to so much trouble to get the nifty icon back.  Before you unlock the device, just pop it in your Mac, then select its desktop icon and "Get Info" (Command-I) on it.  Click the icon in the upper-left of the info window and Copy.  Open something like Textedit and paste it in a new document for safe-keeping.  (If you don't default to rich-text in Textedit, you'll need to Format > Make Rich Text. ) After the conversion, pop it back into the Mac, select it on the desktop and Get Info again.  Then select the generic icon in the info window, and Paste the fancy one back.  Ta-da!

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