iCloud: Cannot turn on Find My Mac - recovery system update required

by Mike Evans

After connecting all my devices to iCloud I was bugged by the fact that my 11in MacBook Air wouldn’t allow me to turn on Find My Mac.

Under Find My Mac in the iCloud preferences pane (see photo) I saw “recovery system update required” together with an “Update…” button. Clicking on Update… took me to Software Update but there was nothing new to update.

I wasn’t surprised since I was convinced that the Lion Recovery update had been installed last week when the flurry of revisions descended. So I decided to download the installation file and run it. It wouldn’t run.

I did some ferreting around the Apple discussion forums and, sure enough, this was a common problem. Worse news. It was more than likely caused by a corrupted disk.

Verifying the 128 GB SSD of the Air using Disk Utilities revealed that it was indeed corrupted. The repair attempt bombed out at halfway stage with instructions to boot from a recovery disk and repair the disk from there.

A bit more reading and I fathomed out how to do this and get Find My Mac running:

  1. Shut down the computer and reboot while holding down the Cmd and R keys.

  2. The computer will boot from the recovery partition and you need to choose the fourth option, Disk Utility

  3. Locate your main volume (such as Macintosh HD) in the Disk Utility pane, highlight it and run disk repair again

  4. If the volume is greyed out it is because you have a password set. Right click on the greyed volume and click on “Unlock”. You can then enter your password and the volume will be available for surgery.

  5. When the disk repair is complete, reboot in the normal way to your main volume.

  6. Go to Apple support and download the Lion Recovery Update (even though it may have been installed automatically last week)

  7. Run the file and this time it should install

  8. Reboot the computer

When you’ve done all this, which is actually quite simple, you will find that Find My Mac can be switched on. This is a good example of a simple symptom hiding an underlying major problem, such as a corrupt volume. That is why it is a good idea regularly to open Disk Utility and verify disk permissions. It’s also wise, from time to time, to verify the disk and attempt a repair if you are told it is necessary. If this isn’t possible, repeat steps 1-3 above to boot from Lion’s recovery partition.