How to Clean Install macOS Catalina Without USB Using Internet Recovery [Tutorial]

Uzair Ghani
learn to clean install macOS Catalina without a USB installer disk

Here's how you can clean install macOS Catalina using the internet recovery method. This method requires an internet connection.

Clean Install macOS Catalina Straight from Apple's Server

As outlandish it may sound, but you have the complete option of clean installing macOS Catalina on your compatible Mac as long as you have a fast enough internet connection - no USB installer drives required. Of course, you can do it on something very slow as well, but be ready to pull off an all-nighter on it.

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First and foremost, you have to make sure that you have a compatible Mac that can run macOS Catalina. Check out the list below just to be sure:

  • MacBook 2015 and later
  • MacBook Air 2012 and later
  • MacBook Pro 2012 and later
  • Mac mini 2012 and later
  • iMac 2012 and later
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro 2013 and later
Check compatibility before you install macOS Catalina

Note: You can check the model of your Mac by simply clicking on the Apple logo in the menu bar and then clicking on About This Mac.

Secondly, make sure that you backup your data completely to a safe location. Use iCloud Drive, Time Machine or just an external drive for this. Please do not skip this step otherwise you run the risk of losing your precious files, never to be restored again.

Lastly, this method requires no USB installer disk at all and relies completely on the internet for everything to happen. This means that if you have a fast connection, you will be done with it all in a matter of minutes. Also, make sure that your Mac is plugged into a power outlet at all times.

Clean Install macOS Catalina Using Internet Recovery Method

Step 1. Power down your Mac completely.

Step 2. Power your Mac back on and hold down the Command + Option + R keys until you see a spinning globe on the display.

install macOS Catalina

Step 3. Connect to the internet using WiFi if you aren't already. This screen will skip itself if you are connected to the internet using Ethernet.

Step 4. As the macOS Catalina installation screen shows up, click on Disk Utility.

Step 5. Select your Mac SSD or HDD from the left and then click on Erase and then confirm your action. Do not change any setting here.

Step 6. Once the disk has been erased, go back to the main screen and select to install a fresh copy of macOS Catalina. Follow the onscreen prompts and you will be done in no time.

Again, if you have a fast internet connection then everything will happen in a snap. Also, if you are installing Catalina on day one, then expect Apple's servers to be completely bogged down as the entire world is going to be downloading the new OS on day one.

Looking to install macOS Catalina over the air? Maybe do a clean install using the USB installer method? Then check out the tutorials linked below:

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