How To Create A Bootable Flash Drive For Macos Sierra

How To Create A Bootable Flash Drive For Macos Sierra Average ratng: 6,2/10 2342 votes

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How to create a bootable macOS High Sierra installer drive Put the macOS High Sierra installer on an external USB thumb drive or hard drive and use it to install the operating system on a Mac. May 24, 2019  Step 2. Have An External Hard Drive Handy. For making a bootable drive, you need a hard drive or a USB flash drive that has enough room for the installer software. Note that the minimum capacity of the USB drive has to be 5 GB. The drive you use will be formatted automatically in the process of being converted into a bootable drive. If you want to do a clean install of macOS Sierra, or you have multiple Macs to install it on, then a bootable flash drive is your best bet. Here’s how to make one. The Easy Option: Disk Creator.

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These advanced steps are primarily for system administrators and others who are familiar with the command line. You don't need a bootable installer to upgrade macOS or reinstall macOS, but it can be useful when you want to install on multiple computers without downloading the installer each time.

Download macOS

Find the appropriate download link in the upgrade instructions for each macOS version:

macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, ormacOS High Sierra
Installers for each of these macOS versions download directly to your Applications folder as an app named Install macOS Catalina, Install macOS Mojave, or Install macOS High Sierra. If the installer opens after downloading, quit it without continuing installation. Important: To get the correct installer, download from a Mac that is using macOS Sierra 10.12.5 or later, or El Capitan 10.11.6. Enterprise administrators, please download from Apple, not a locally hosted software-update server.

OS X El Capitan
El Capitan downloads as a disk image. On a Mac that is compatible with El Capitan, open the disk image and run the installer within, named InstallMacOSX.pkg. It installs an app named Install OS X El Capitan into your Applications folder. You will create the bootable installer from this app, not from the disk image or .pkg installer.

Use the 'createinstallmedia' command in Terminal

  1. Connect the USB flash drive or other volume that you're using for the bootable installer. Make sure that it has at least 12GB of available storage and is formatted as Mac OS Extended.
  2. Open Terminal, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  3. Type or paste one of the following commands in Terminal. These assume that the installer is still in your Applications folder, and MyVolume is the name of the USB flash drive or other volume you're using. If it has a different name, replace MyVolume in these commands with the name of your volume.

    High Sierra:*
    El Capitan:
  4. Press Return after typing the command.
  5. When prompted, type your administrator password and press Return again. Terminal doesn't show any characters as you type your password.
  6. When prompted, type Y to confirm that you want to erase the volume, then press Return. Terminal shows the progress as the bootable installer is created.
  7. When Terminal says that it's done, the volume will have the same name as the installer you downloaded, such as Install macOS Catalina. You can now quit Terminal and eject the volume.

* If your Mac is using macOS Sierra or earlier, include the --applicationpath argument, similar to the way this argument is used in the command for El Capitan.

Use the bootable installer

After creating the bootable installer, follow these steps to use it:

  1. Plug the bootable installer into a compatible Mac.
  2. Use Startup Manager or Startup Disk preferences to select the bootable installer as the startup disk, then start up from it. Your Mac will start up to macOS Recovery.
    Learn about selecting a startup disk, including what to do if your Mac doesn't start up from it.
  3. Choose your language, if prompted.
  4. A bootable installer doesn't download macOS from the Internet, but it does require the Internet to get information specific to your Mac model, such as firmware updates. If you need to connect to a Wi-Fi network, use the Wi-Fi menu in the menu bar.
  5. Select Install macOS (or Install OS X) from the Utilities window, then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions.

Learn more

For more information about the createinstallmedia command and the arguments that you can use with it, make sure that the macOS installer is in your Applications folder, then enter this path in Terminal:




High Sierra:

El Capitan:

UPDATE 09/2018: Create a Bootable macOS Mojave Install Drive with DiskMaker X 8

UPDATE 09/2017: Create a Bootable macOS High Sierra Install Drive with DiskMaker X 7

Apple has made macOS installations (and those for Mac OS X before it) as simple as hitting a download link, but what if you’d like to have a bootable disk drive with which to install macOS Sierra on a number of different Macs? Fortunately, there’s a quick and free solution in the form of DiskMakerX, which has just become available in a macOS Sierra-compatible version. In this post, we’ll demonstrate how to create your own bootable install drive.

Download DiskMaker X 6

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The first thing you’ll want to do is download DiskMakerX 6 to a Mac using the link above. Note that although DiskMaker X is free of charge, donations are accepted — you can help support a useful utility by sending the developers what you feel the app is worth.

Install DiskMaker X 6

To install DiskMaker X 6, find the installer disk image file — usually in the Downloads folder — and double-click it. The disk image is mounted, and the following screen appears:

DiskMaker X 6 Installer Screen

Installation is simple — just drag the DiskMaker X 6 icon to the Applications folder alias as shown on the installer screen. Within seconds, the app is installed and ready for launch. But don’t double-click that app icon yet…

Download the macOS Sierra installer

Chances are good that when macOS Sierra was installed on your Mac, the installer file disappeared. That’s OK — you can download it by launching the Mac App Store, locating and clicking on the link for macOS Sierra in the right sidebar, then clicking the “Download” button. A copy of the installer is downloaded and saved into the Applications folder.

OWC 16GB USB Flash Drive

Get a suitable USB thumb, USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire drive

DiskMaker X will require at least 8GB of capacity on whatever drive you select to be your bootable install drive. USB thumb drives are adequate for the task; this OWC 16.0GB Dual USB Flash Drive (see image above) is perfect, and it’s only $9.99. Likewise, a fast 500GB OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro USB 3.0 drive ($94.99) is a lot speedier for installation, the same drive in a FireWire 800 version ($119.99) is handy with Macs that support that connection, and for the best possible speed while performing mass installations of macOS Sierra from the drive, you’ll want to look into something like this 1TB LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt drive ($179.99).

Note that whatever is on the drive when you create your bootable macOS Sierra Install Drive will be erased. If you plan to use the same drive to carry other utilities or tools, or to serve as a backup drive, you’ll need to do that after the bootable install drive is created.

Launch DiskMaker X 6

Make sure that your drive is attached to your Mac and visible from the Finder, then launch DiskMaker X 6. As you can see in the screenshot below, DiskMaker X 6 allows the creation of bootable disks for Mac OS X Yosemite, Mac OS X El Capitan, and of course macOS Sierra.

How To Create A Bootable Flash Drive For Macos SierraThe main DiskMaker X 6 dialog

In this example, we’re making a macOS Sierra boot disk, so click the highlighted (blue) button. If the “Download the macOS Sierra installer” step was bypassed, DiskMaker X 6 responds with an error message and quits, so make sure that you have the installer on your Mac. When the installer is on your Mac, DiskMaker X 6 displays a dialog asking which copy of the installer you want to use:

DiskMaker finds the macOS Sierra installer

The copy we are using is in the Applications folder, so click the highlighted (blue) button marked “Use this copy”. Next, DiskMaker X 6 asks for the type of disk you’ll be using for your bootable disk (see image below). Note that if you’re using a 8GB (or larger) USB thumb drive, it will be completely erased. DiskMaker will erase any complete volume that you signify, so if you wish to make a disk that can install Yosemite, El Capitan, and Sierra, consider using Disk Utility (found in the Applications/Utilities folder) to partition the drive into three separate volumes, one for each operating system version.

Which disk will you use? A thumb drive, or a connected HDD or SSD?

For this example, we’re using a small RAID device so clicking “Another kind of disk” is appropriate. As seen in the following screenshot, the drive “RAID1” was selected by clicking on its name, and then “Choose this disk” was clicked.

Select the disk volume for your boot disk, then click “Choose this disk”

This is your last chance to make sure that you really want to erase the disk and turn it into a bootable drive. When you’re sure, click the “Erase then create the disk” button (see below):

One last chance to cancel the erasure of the target boot drive

Once the blue button has been clicked, a lot happens very quickly. Since the Mac requires administrator privileges in order to make the new boot drive, you’ll be reminded that the admin user name and password will need to be entered (see below) and then a standard Mac login dialog appears.

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A reminder that you’ll need the admin username and password to create the boot disk

During the disk creation process temporary windows will open and close, files are copied, and a lion roars. When you hear the lion’s roar, you know that DiskMaker X 6 has completed the process and a dialog informs you of that fact. At this point, it’s possible to either reboot your Mac while holding down the Option (Alt) key to select the drive, or use System Preferences > Startup Disk to select it.

The bootable macOS Sierra disk is ready!

You can also quit and do the macOS Sierra upgrades at a later time, and/or make a donation towards the care and feeding of the DiskMaker X developers. There is another way to make a bootable installation disk that requires familiarity with the Mac command line, but DiskMaker X just makes the process much more “Mac-like” and transparent.

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