How to Make Bootable Mac USB?

You can install the macOS from a variety of sources, we’ve already written a tutorial on this. However, it is not always possible to download the official and up-to-date version of macOS from the App Store. In this case, you will need to install macOS from USB (we are talking about an external drive or flash drive, which is connected via USB). This procedure is basic and does not take much time.

We have explored this topic and want to share with you detailed instructions on how to create a bootable USB for Mac.

Create Bootable Mac USB via the Terminal

You can make a bootable USB for Mac via the Terminal utility. This is the easiest and fastest way and does not require you to download third-party apps from the App Store.

First, download the installation file of the desired software version from the Mac App Store. When the download is complete, it will automatically start the installation process. You need to interrupt it.

make bootable mac usb

After that, you need to format the flash drive.

Formatting the Flash Drive

As a rule, most new flash drives are formatted for Windows systems right from the factory, and when used with OS X, they may not work as well as you’d like. Therefore, the first thing to do is to format the flash drive. Follow the steps:

  1. Plug your flash drive into your Mac and open the Disk Utility app.
  2. In the side menu, find the external drive you want and click on it.
  3. Next, click on the Erase icon at the top of the window, and in the menu that opens, write a name for the drive and set its format. If you want to format the flash drive for OS X only, choose OS X Extended and click Erase.

Step-By-Step Tutorial to Create Bootable Mac USB

If you have already downloaded the macOS installation file, then we can move on to the actual procedure of creating a bootable USB for Mac.

You can use different kinds of USB storage devices when creating a bootable Mac USB. It can be an external SSD drive, an HDD, or a flash drive. The main thing is that they should have the needed connector and be able to connect to your Apple computer.

Now let’s move on:

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to your Mac and find it in the Finder.
  2. Select “Rename” on the context menu and give it a new name (for example, MyVolume).
    create bootable usb mac
  3. Copy the macOS bootable file to your “Programs” folder.
  4. Open “Terminal” via Spotlight or in the “Programs” → “Utilities” folder.
  5. Copy and paste the command into the Terminal window, depending on the version of the operating system you are installing.

Note that in the Terminal you need to enter the command according to the macOS version of your device.

create macos bootable usb

After that, enter the administrator password. Next, confirm formatting the flash drive by typing Y and pressing Enter. Be careful, all data will be deleted from it!

Different versions of macOS require different commands. Copy the following command to the Terminal, but change the operating system name to the one you will load onto the flash drive:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ -volume /Volumes/MyVolume

That’s it! Now you can boot Mac from external drive or flash drive in minutes!


There are other ways to create a bootable macOS flash drive or external drive for your Apple computer. However, they require you to download third-party applications. And some of them only have a paid version. Here we showed you a simple and free way that works 100%.

To install macOS from a bootable disk, restart your computer and insert the disk or flash drive with the operating system installation file in it. While your computer boots, press the Option (Alt) button ⌥ and follow the instructions.

Cyril Kardashevsky

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