How to fix “You may not install this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition” on Macbook Pro

Time to read: 8 mins

So, I’ve recently had this issue when my SSD died in the machine – Apple being apple wanted over £500 to “fix” this issue – It takes less than 10 mins to replace the drive yourself.

As my Macbook Pro was early 2015 model, it was released with OS X Yosemite.

Of course, It’s always worth attempting the “Recovery from Internet” option once I replaced the drive.

However, it seems that Apple were a bit sneaky in the older versions and do not support drives without EFI firmware, so I had to get macOS Mojave, which from my own research was the first OS from Apple that supported this – It wasn’t that simple mind.

The Mac was not able to upgrade to OS X El Capitan, MacOS Sierra, MacOS High Sierra, MacOS Mojave, or even MacOS Catalina, as it kept returning the error “You may not install this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition”. So, what now?

I overcome this by using my iMac, and plugging in an external HDD to the machine – using this drive to take a “TimeMachine” backup, but excluding applications, files etc – After-all, I only need the OS!

Once completed, I plugged this into my Macbook Pro, selected internet recovery (Command + R when turning on the machine). I then went to Disk Utility and recovered the machine from the TimeMachine backup Once done, I selected the new SSD drive, and clicked on “Partition” – I then selected MacOS Journaled, and the scheme as GUID.

After a few seconds, the action was completed. Now, I went to “Reinstall MacOS” and hurray, the new SSD drive was accessible and able to re-install MacOS.

After a short while, the MacOS Catalina installed onto the new drive – and the Macbook Pro was back!

Summary:

  • Attempt ‘Recovery from Internet’ option in the first instance
  • Find another apple device running any other version
  • Create a time machine backup to external drive (exclude apps, files etc)
  • Plug this into the affected machine
  • Restore from backup
  • Mac will detect the new drive and install the backup onto there.
  • Reinstall MacOS

Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Posted in IT

12 Replies to “How to fix “You may not install this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition” on Macbook Pro”

  1. Does the iMac support APFS when you took the TimeMachine back-up? In my case, the “back-up” machine runs Catalina (APFS). The problematic machine would not allow the restore because it doesn’t “support” APFS 🙁
    Do I need a “back-up” machine running macOS below High Sierra?

    1. Might be an idea to completely format the problematic machines drive, then pop in the TimeMachine drive in to do the restore – I can’t see why it would matter being on APFS on a “clean” install. Let me know how you get on!

    1. Thanks, It saved me some cash for sure and was a fairly quick process – and to this day it’s working a charm!

  2. Bruh, you the real MVP! My macbook pro (mid-2013) recently stopped recognizing the internal SSD. I tried replacing the internal SSD to no avail. After a good bit of research I found it was a common issue with older macs where the OS update caused this issue. Then I tried booting from an external HD which lead to even more unforeseen issues. Weeks of troubleshooting pass and I find this! Created two partitions on my external HD. Made a time machine backup from my 2012 macbook pro running Mojave to restore from on one, and the other was formatted for MacOS Extended to boot from. This process failed but prompted me to restart. MAGICALLY my internal SSD appears in disk utility. I hope others who have the same issue can find this.

  3. It sees an SSD on the PCI bus as an external drive, connect the SSD to one of the drive trays instead of via PCI card – this fixed it for me.

  4. Mr Thomas, your advice please. I own a MBP12,1 that came with a 121Gb drive. I bought an OWC Aura Pro X in 2016/17 and did a replacement of the original Apple SSD. I then cloned it to the Aura Pro and everything worked, albeit with the occasional crash of the Aura Pro. It took me forever (this year) to notice that the firmware wasn’t being updated. I read around and came across your article. So I did a recovery and updated the original Apple SSD and an external drive. It updated to El Capitan. But I can’t update it further – same problem as you had – a missing EFI partition. The drive is empty of any data. What to do? How do I partition it to include an EFI partition? I would appreciate your advice.

    1. Thanks for your comment – Did you try the restore/reinstall process as defined within the article?

  5. P.S. The laptop is stuck on Boot ROM Version: 180.0.0
    SMC Version (system): 2.28f7

    1. Did you format the drive prior to the installation, If not – I would recommend trying it again by formatting the drive first.

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