Update / Create Lion RecoveryHD Partition Quickly Without Reinstalling

April 6, 2015 UpdatecreateRecoveryHDUpdater 15.4.6.command – built PKG now is targetable to volumes other than /

Feb 28, 2015 Update: New script on Software page and here:
createRecoveryHDUpdater 15.2.28.command

Apple released the Lion Recovery Update in October, 2011, and, after they updated the Lion recovery partition to 10.7.2, there was a great hint from Clay Caviness who dug into the update and highlighted the the relevant files and commands that it used to accomplish this update.

Recently, 10.7.3 came out, however, and the RecoveryHD partition is not updated if you use Software Update; it will stay at 10.7.2. This is probably not a big deal, as Apple didn’t deem it necessary to update, but for some users, this may not be good enough.

Note: Running the full 10.7.3 installer from the App Store will update the partition; this is fine for your home computer but not practical for large deployments.

Script Workflow:

  • Asks for locations of Recovery Update, Install OS X Lion.app, and destination
  • Expands and collects the dmtest tool from the Lion Recovery Update
  • Collects the hidden Basesystem chunklist and dmg found in the InstallESD.dmg inside “Install Mac OS X Lion.app”
The script making the Disk Image
  • Puts it all neatly into a self-contained disk image along with the script RecoveryHD Updater.command which can be used to easily create or update the RecoveryHD partition, even on the disk you are currently booted from; don’t worry dmtest takes care of all the logic to create or update.
The final disk image


  • Download the latest version of Install OS X Lion.app. Option-click the Purchases tab in the App Store and you will be able to “Install” (download) the latest version available
  • Download Lion Recovery Update from Apple

Script Tip:

Copy and paste the script into TextWrangler, save with a .command extension and it will automatically set the executable bit.

createRecoveryHDUpdater.command (downloadable script):


#this script will make a disk image with the tools needed to update your Recovery HD with the newest OS X Lion release

#Required components:
#Lion Recovery Update v1.0 - http://support.apple.com/downloads/DL1464/en_US/RecoveryHDUpdate.dmg
#"Install Mac OS X Lion.app" - App Store

# RecoveryHD Updater.command

#this script that will be saved to the disk image that is created
MYPATH="$(dirname "$0")"

#get destination drive
if [ "$1" == "" ]; then
echo -n "Please drag in DESTINATION disk for Recovery HD partition and press Enter: "
while [ -z "$DEST" ]; do
read DEST
if [ ! -d "$DEST" ]; then echo "$DEST not found"; exit; fi

#create Recovery partition
sudo "$MYPATH"/bin/dmtest ensureRecoveryPartition "$DEST" "$MYPATH"/etc/BaseSystem.dmg 0 0 "$MYPATH"/etc/BaseSystem.chunklist


#IMAGETEMP is the pathname for the disk image being built, will the OS and Build appended to the name later
IMAGETEMP="/tmp/Recovery HD Updater"

#temp folder for package expansion

#Mounted disk image paths
ESDPATH="/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD"
RECOVERYPATH="/Volumes/Mac OS X Lion Recovery HD Update"

#get Recovery Update dmg path
if [ "$1" == "" ]; then
echo -n "Please drag in RecoveryHDUpdate.dmg and press enter: "
while [ -z "$RECOVERYHDUPDATE" ]; do
if [ ! -f "$RECOVERYHDUPDATE" ]; then echo "$RECOVERYHDUPDATE not found"; exit; fi

#get Lion Installer path
if [ "$2" == "" ]; then
echo -n "Please drag in \"Install Mac OS X Lion.app\" and press enter: "
while [ -z "$LION" ]; do
read LION
if [ ! -d "$LION" ]; then echo "$LION not found"; exit; fi

#get destination path for disk image to be created at
if [ "$3" == "" ]; then
echo -n "Please drag in Destination folder for disk image: "
while [ -z "$DEST" ]; do
read DEST
if [ ! -d "$DEST" ]; then echo "$DEST is not a valid path"; exit; fi

#mount Recovery Update image
hdiutil attach "$RECOVERYHDUPDATE"

#expand packge inside to temp folder (contains dmtest)
pkgutil --expand "$RECOVERYPATH"/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg "$RECOVERY_EXPANDED"

#if we were using what's inside the chunklist and recovery inside the update we would mount this
#RecoveryHDMeta="/Volumes/Recovery HD Update"
#hdiutil attach "$RECOVERY_EXPANDED"/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg/RecoveryHDMeta.dmg

#open Lion install ESD image for the newest files
hdiutil attach "$LION"/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg

#get OS version from Lion Installer ESD
OSVER=$(defaults read "$ESDPATH"/System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion ProductUserVisibleVersion)
OSBUILD=$(defaults read "$ESDPATH"/System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion ProductBuildVersion)

#append info to path so disk image volume name is informative and useful

#make work the folder
mkdir -p "$IMAGETEMP"/etc/
mkdir "$IMAGETEMP"/bin/

#copy dmtest to IMAGETEMP
if [ -f "$RECOVERY_EXPANDED"/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg/Scripts/Tools/dmtest ]; then
cp "$RECOVERY_EXPANDED"/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg/Scripts/Tools/dmtest "$IMAGETEMP"/bin/
echo "$RECOVERY_EXPANDED/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg/Scripts/Tools/dmtest not found, exiting"
exit 1

#copy the BaseSystem dmg and chunklist to destination/etc
if [ -f "$ESDPATH"/BaseSystem.chunklist -o -f "$ESDPATH"/BaseSystem.dmg  ]; then
cp "$ESDPATH"/BaseSystem.chunklist "$ESDPATH"/BaseSystem.dmg "$IMAGETEMP"/etc/
#unhide BaseSystem
chflags -R nohidden "$IMAGETEMP"
echo "$ESDPATH/BaseSystem* not found, exiting"

#put script in folder root
echo "$RecoveryHDUpdaterScript" > "$IMAGETEMP"/"RecoveryHD Updater.command"
#set permissions
chmod ugo+x "$IMAGETEMP"/"RecoveryHD Updater.command"

#create disk image from folder
hdiutil create -srcfolder "$IMAGETEMP" "$DEST"/RecoveryHDUpdater_$OSVER_$OSBUILD.dmg
if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
echo "Success! Created: $DEST/RecoveryHDUpdater_$OSVER_$OSBUILD.dmg"
echo "Now opening "$DEST"/RecoveryHDUpdater_$OSVER_$OSBUILD.dmg"
hdiutil attach "$DEST"/RecoveryHDUpdater_$OSVER_$OSBUILD.dmg
echo "Disk Image failed"

echo "Cleaning Up"
#delete temp folders

#eject the volumes
hdiutil eject "$RECOVERYPATH"
hdiutil eject "$ESDPATH"

echo "Done."


The script can also be run with command line arguments:

$ ./createRecoveryHDUpdater.command [Recovery Update DMG] [Install Lion App] [Destination for DMG]

As well as the script that is put in the created disk image:

$ ./RecoveryHD\ Updater.command [Destination]

Otherwise just double-click it in the Finder and it will ask you for the files and paths which you can just drag into the Terminal window and press Enter (don’t worry about the trailing spaces it adds)

When you run the script in the disk image you will be prompted for an admin password and away it goes, with all sorts of ugly output because it never thought a human would gaze upon it’s hidden ways…

dmtest updating the RecoveryHD partition


Update: Just tested with 10.7.4 and this script still works correctly, nothing has changed in the structure of the updated Install OS X Lion.app from the App store, note that the 10.7.4 installer is version 1.0.21 (10.7.2=1.0.13 and 10.7.3=1.0.16)

Update: Script will work on 10.8 without modification, however I have updated the script anyway to be a bit quieter when mounting the various DMGs, to accept tilde paths, accept the RecoveryHDUpdater as either a DMG or PKG, and changed prompt phrasing to include Mountain Lion.

Getting and setting PPD options via command line for use with lpadmin in OS X

UPDATE – Script now will convert CR to LF line endings for better reliability with old PPDs

There are some good hints for adding printers via the command line with lpadmin: Managing multiple printers via the command line

However, there is still confusion surrounding the setting of printer options from the command line, as a poster to Debian bugs pointed out back in 2006: lpoptions documentation doesn’t. After doing some testing, here’s the two main takewaways:

  • If you use lpadmin and specify options with “-o” the PPD is altered and OS X will recognize the options for the printer.
  • However, if you setup the printer using lpadmin without any options and later use lptoptions to set the options, they are not written to the PPD and the GUI is unaware of the printer’s options.

more helpful hints about lpadmin and lpoptions:

lpoptions -p printername -l

  • Prints PPD options, “Default” is filtered out from option name (compared to looking at the raw PPD)
  • It uses a colon when reporting key value pairs, however replace that with an equals sign when specifying an option
  • The option name stops at the first slash
  • Example: The duplex option for HP printers will output like this “HPOption_Duplexer/Duplex Unit: *True False”
    When specified as a “-o” option it would be “HPOption_Duplexer=True”

lpadmin … -o this=that

  • Alters the ppd that is placed in /etc/cups/ppd/ when the printer is installed

Unhelpful things:

lpoptions -p printername

  • These are NOT the PPD options you want to set

lpoptions -o

  • Only writes options to: /private/etc/cups/lpoptions (run with sudo) or ~/.cups/lpoptions (run as current user), GUI apps are unaware of these options

The following script compares the original and the newly installed PPD to generate the options syntax to be used with lpadmin: 

The main magic in this script is a little diff and sed:

diff "$originalfile" "$newfile" | grep "> [*]Default" | sed 's/> [*]Default/-o /g' | sed 's/: /=/g'

Script Workflow

  • Copy and paste the script into TextWrangler (or download ppdOptionsDiff.command), save with a .command extension and it will automatically take care of the executable bit
  • Setup your printer via the Printers Preference Pane in the GUI.
  • Look in /etc/cups/ppd and find the newest .ppd (it will be named as the printer)
  • Locate the original .ppd.gz (or .ppd) in /Library/Printers/PPDs/Contents/Resources/, usually the printer ppd is easily found by name, but some like Canon have some cryptic filenames, so look inside the /etc/cup/ppd file, the “PCFileName” variable sometimes helps to determine the file name
  • Run the script given below, it will ask you to drag in the original and the modified ppds. Out will come the “-o” options for use with lpadmin

You can also run the script with the original and modified file paths as arguments and the string will be output

The script “ppdOptionsDiff.command“:

[ -f /tmp/debug ] && set -x
#ppd option maker

if [ "$1" == "-h" ]; then
	echo "$(basename $0) compares two ppds and outputs the differences as a string for use in lpadmin"
	echo "Usage: $(basename $0) [original_ppd] [new_ppd]"

#check for parameter if not ask
if [ -z "$1" -o -z "$2" ]; then
	echo "Drag in the unmodified PPD from /Library/Printers/PPDs/Contents/Resources:"
	open /Library/Printers/PPDs/Contents/Resources
	while [ -z "$originalfile" ]; do
	read originalfile

	echo "Drag in the PPD from /etc/cups/ppd:"
	open /etc/cups/ppd
	while [ -z "$newfile" ]; do
	read newfile
#else just take the arguments
elif [ -n "$1" -o -n "$2" ]; then

#make a temp file of the original to compare
#strip off path and extension for temp file name
tempOriginalFile="/tmp/$(basename "$originalfile" .gz)"

#if file is compressed expand
if [ "${originalfile##*.}" == "gz" ]; then
	#gunzip to temp file
	gunzip < "$originalfile" > "$tempOriginalFile"
#just make a copy
cp "$originalfile" "$tempOriginalFile"

#change line endings from CR to LF (diff fails unless this is done)
sed -e $'s/\\\r/\\\n/g' -i '' "$tempOriginalFile"

#make a temp file of the new file to compare
#strip off path
tempNewFile="/tmp/$(basename "$newfile")"
cp "$newfile" "$tempNewFile"

#change line endings from CR to LF (diff fails unless this is done)
sed -e $'s/\\\r/\\\n/g' -i '' "$tempNewFile"

#test for file existence
if [ ! -f "$tempOriginalFile" ]; then echo "$tempOriginalFile is not a valid path"; exit; fi 
if [ ! -f "$tempNewFile" ]; then echo "$tempNewFile is not a valid path"; exit; fi 

#create options list by diffing and filtering
optionList=$(diff "$tempOriginalFile" "$tempNewFile" | grep "> [*]Default" | sed 's/> [*]Default/-o /g' | sed 's/: /=/g')

#print out the options with no line breaks
if [ ! -z "$optionList" ]; then
	for option in $optionList; do 
		echo -n "$option "
	echo "No differences"

#delete the temp filess
rm "$tempOriginalFile" "$tempNewFile"


Example (with pathnames provided as arguments, otherwise runs in interactive mode):

$ ./ppdOptionsDiff.command /Library/Printers/PPDs/Contents/Resources/HP\ LaserJet\ 5200.gz /private/etc/cups/ppd/PRINTERNAME.ppd

-o HPOption_Tray3=Tray3_500 -o HPCollateSupported=True -o HPOption_Duplexer=True -o HPOption_Disk=RAMDisk

Use the generated string in lpadmin to set the printer options, like this example:

lpadmin -p "Ye_Olde_LaserJet" -D "Ye Olde LaserJet" -E -v socket://x.x.x.x -P /Library/Printers/PPDs/Contents/Resources/HP\ LaserJet\ 5200.gz -L "Location is in a closet in a sub-basement, good luck" -D -o HPOption_Tray3=Tray3_500 -o HPCollateSupported=True -o HPOption_Duplexer=True -o HPOption_Disk=RAMDisk -o printer-is-shared=false

The documentation from man lpadmin is a bit obtuse and lacking. For example: -E will enable the printer (essential!) except when used before -p or -d in those cases it forces encryption, so watch out! Also, in the man page it shows -h server[:port] but -h is not documented anywhere in there and I have never used it. Rather, the -v option should be used with a URL like lpd://, socket:// (HP), ipp://, etc.. if you want to get a listing of the protocols run lpinfo -v this will even do a look around with Bonjour to see what’s on the network (they are dnssd://). The -p option is the CUPS queue name, it does not allow spaces, whereas the -D option is the “friendly name” that a user will see in macOS, you can set some location text with -L and finally just tack all the -o options on the end. -o printer-is-shared=false will keep the printer from being broadcast if you turn on Printer Sharing (or if a user accidentally turns it on)