How to Create Bootable Mac OS X USB Drive

Posted on 2016-10-18
Last Modified: 2016-10-21
Hello Experts,

I'm currently running macOS Siera on my personal MacBook Pro 2013. I would like to create a Bootable USB Flash with either macOS Siera on it or El Capitan. I would then like to be able to install that OS on other iMac's or MacBook Pro's that qualify for that either OS.

How can I achieve this by making a Bootable USB Flash Drive my downloading either macOS or El Capitan using my personal MacBook to the USB Flash Drive then booting the other iMac's or MacBook Pro's from it?
Question by:asp_net2
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Accepted Solution

Niten Kumar earned 500 total points
ID: 41849331
1. Connect to your Mac a properly formatted 8GB (or larger) drive, and rename the drive Untitled. (The Terminal commands I provide here assume that the drive is named Untitled. If the drive isn’t named Untitled, the procedure won’t work.)

2. Make sure the El Capitan installer (or at least a copy of it), called Install OS X El, is in its default location in your main Applications folder (/Applications).

3. Select the text of the following Terminal command and copy it.  
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\

Open in new window

4. Launch Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities).

5. Warning: This step will erase the destination drive or partition, so make sure that it doesn’t contain any valuable data. Paste the copied command into Terminal and press Return.

6. Type your admin-level account password when prompted, and then press Return.

7. You may see the message “To continue we need to erase the disk at /Volumes/Untitled. If you wish to continue type (Y) then press return:” If so, type the letter Y and then press Return. If you don't see this message, you're already set.macpic.JPG
 The Terminal window displays createinstallmedia’s progress as a textual representation of a progress bar: Erasing Disk: 0%... 10 percent...20 percent... and so on. You also see a list of the program’s tasks as they occur: Copying installer files to disk... Copy complete. Making disk bootable... Copying boot files... Copy complete. The procedure can take as little as a couple minutes, or as long as 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how fast your Mac can copy data to the destination drive. Once you see Copy Complete. Done., as shown in the screenshot above, the process has finished.

Createinstallmedia will have renamed your drive from Untitled to Install OS X El Capitan. You can rename the drive (in the Finder) if you like—renaming it won’t prevent it from working properly.

Author Comment

ID: 41850831

The solution you provided so far up to "Copying installer files to disk" worked great. As of now, I have waited at least 20 minutes and the "Copying installer files to disk..." has not moved.

Expert Comment

ID: 41851300
You can install a clean OSX onto a 16Gb flash drive, this will be bootable. You can then copy the OSX installer onto the drive. (done this with MLion, Mavericks, and Yosemite - later OSX may require 32Gb)
OR you can create an El Capitan bootable installer with these steps (similar to above) IF you have installer.
How to Create a OS X El Capitan Boot Installer USB Flash Drive
Disk Maker X is El Capitan compatible

Create a bootable Sierra USB installer

I have used DiskMakerX with earlier OSX versions.  Have not used Install Disk Creator
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Author Comment

ID: 41851915

I stand corrected. Your solution did work. All steps that you supplied did work as you posted.

The problem I now have and it may be due to an old MacBook Pro is that I get a message when trying to install that says "You can't upgrade this version of OS X". Is that because of the USB Boot Drive not working or because it's an old MacBook Pro?
LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 41852130
If you're installing OS X El Capitan over Sierra, you won't be able to just install the "upgrade".  That may be why you got that error message.  You will have to use Disk Utility to Erase the disk first, then you can install.  I suggest you back up you data first before you start the process.  You should be able install El Capitan or Sierra onto a 2013 Mac.

Author Comment

ID: 41852404

I'm trying to install OS X El Capitan on an old MacBook Pro, which I believe is 2006 model.

Expert Comment

ID: 41852959   lists all the specs for specific models, including the OSX version it came with and the latest that will install.
LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 41853163
If it's from 2006, it may not be able to install anything above Snow Leopard(10.6.8).  You may have to find the original installer discs and install from that.

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