Use the OS X lion USB as a regular USB

If   you own a  MacBook  Air, except for the new mid-2011 models, or you have ordered the $69 Mac OSX Lion USB Drive  have upgraded to Lion already, you’re probably now wondering what do to do with the restore USB drive that was sold along with it, since you likely won’t want to use  Snow  Leopard  ever again. Instead of throwing a perfectly good USB drive away, why not use it as a standard 8GB USB stick?


Apple has indeed shipped a standard USB stick with every MacBook Air which came pre-installed with Snow Leopard instead of restore discs, since the Air doesn’t have an  optical  drive  built in. By default, this USB drive allows users to re-install Mac  OS  X  and nothing else. Thankfully, there’s a way to ‘unlock’ the MacBook Air’s recovery drive and use it just like any other 8GB USB stick.

In order to begin, you’ll need the following:

  1. SM32Xtest (download it from  here).
  2. A Windows 7, Vista or XP compute, either native or virtualized using a tool like  VMware Fusion, in order to run the tool mentioned above.
  3. The recovery USB drive that came with  your  MacBook  Air or the one that your  brought for $69

Once you’ve downloaded all the necessary files, you’re now ready to unlock your restore USB stick and turn it into a regular one. Before beginning this process, make sure you understand that it is irreversible, deleting all of Apple’s recovery tools. Yet, if you’re already using  Lion, this shouldn’t matter much to you anyway.

Take the following steps on Windows.

Step 1:  Plug in your unchanged restore USB stick.

Step 2:  Extract the archive you downloaded above and run  sm32Xtest.exe. If everything goes as expected, something similar to the window below should pop up.

Step 3:  Make sure once again that your recovery drive is  plugged in  and click on  Scan USB  or press F5 from within the software. Then select the entry correspondent to your drive and click on  Start.

Step 4:  After a few seconds, your drive should be ready to be formatted. Simply do so from within Windows or from Disk Utility on your Mac.

And You’re done!  If everything went as expected, you should now have a brand-new clean USB stick: 8 GB of free storage just for yourself.  If you’re running Lion however, you can access its recovery features by holding Command-R before your computer starts up, after hearing the boot chime.

Great! isn’t it?

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The DNetWorks