Problems formatting a new HD in an iMac

So my iMac DV (graphite, slot-loading CD-drive) started to sound more like a burr grinder than a purring computer, and froze frequently. I bought a new hard drive with a bigger storage capacity, opened the iMac’s housing, removed the old drive, installed the new one, and reassembled.

As expected, it started asking for a system disk when it restarted. I put in the CD that came with the drive, rebooted with the “C” button down (to boot from the CD drive), and nothing happened.

I then realized that the CD is probably meant for Wintel machines, not Macs (which now use the same hard drives as Wintels, which is how I why I got the drive in the first place…). Doh.

I’ve since rebooted with an OSX disc and a software install disk that I got more recently with my iBook, but though they run properly, they can’t recognize the hard disk.

I just moved, so I haven’t unpacked my entire office yet, and can’t find the original bundle of discs for the iMac (one of which, IIRC, had some sort of disk tools CD … the disk tools for my iBook won’t work on the iMac).

Here’s the question: How do I fix this damn thing? Do I need to find the original iMac disk tools? Can I download a Mac-friendly hard drive utility and burn it to a bootable CD-R using my iBook? Did I eff up my hard drive installation and the damn thing just isn’t properly connected or the switches properly set, etc.? Should the bootable disks I’ve used be able to see the drive even though it’s not formatted?

Any help is vastly appreciated.

The MacOS X CD should contain have Disk Utility in the Applications/Utilities folder. Initialize the hard disk. If this is what you were doing and it doesn’t work, I think maybe you can’t use that hard drive in your iMac.

Let me check for it when I get home–I’m not sure if I can access the app/util folder when booting up from it, though. It launches a “helpful” automatic installation program, which, IIRC, only gives me the option of either installing (impossible) or restarting.

The OS X Install CD should be all you need. Boot from the OS X CD. It should automatically run the installer. Go to the menu called something like OS X Install (it’ll be the one right next to the Apple menu) and pick “Open Disk Utility”.

When the Disk Utility program opens, you should see a folder-tab for “Erase”. Pick that tab, select your hard drive on the left, choose how you want to format it, and off you go. When it’s done formatting, pick “Quit Disk Utility” from the Disk Utility menu, and you’ll be dropped back into the Installer, ready to install OS X.

If your drive doesn’t appear at all on the left, make sure you hooked it up correctly when you installed it. Check that the red stripe on the ribbon cable corresponds to pin 1 on the drive (usually, pin 1 is on the side closest to the power connection) and make sure the power connection is secure. Also, make sure the drive spins up (that is, make sure it’s receiving power) when you turn the computer on.

The CD that came with the drive is useless to you, as you suspected.

Rather than use the MacOS X CD, I’d advise using the MacOS 9 installation CD (assuming you have one)–it’s considerably more obvious how one goes about finding and using Drive Setup on the OS9 CD than how one gets out of the auto-launching installer program on the OS X CD in order to get to the Disk Utility program that’s on it. Using Drive Setup, format your new HD; partition it if you wish (optional); format the drives (or all of its partitions) as HFS+ (MacOS Extended Format). Reboot with the MacOS X installation CD and this time it should let you select the drive or partition thereof onto which you wish to install.

If you don’t HAVE a MacOS 9 installer, try inserting and booting from the MacOS X CD then force-quitting the installer when it comes up. I don’t know if that will work, I only recall that there is a non-intuitive way to exit to the Finder of the CD’s copy of OS X.

Never mind, follow MaxTorque’s advice.

Thanks, all. I’ll give it a go tonight.

Success! Thanks, Max. The catch, I discovered, was that you have to immediately go to the menu and open the disk utility–if you start the installation process (i.e., click on “English” as your language), those menu options are no longer available to you, and you can only finish installation or restart.