How to create a macOS bootable flash drive

Apple computers are always sold with a preinstalled operating system. Upgrade to a newer version of macOS, reinstall or restore over the network. A standalone installer is rarely needed for these operations. Our experts tell you how to make a bootable macOS flash drive if you need one.

Getting a distribution

Go to the App Store to download the operating system distribution. You can search for the current version by typing its codename in the field marked 1. Links to older, but still supported by Apple releases of macOS are on the support page.

The distribution is a standalone application, which has the extension APP. It is not downloaded to the download folder, but directly into the system’s “Applications” directory.

The current version of macOS or a newer version will start right after you load it. Exit the installer by pressing “Cmd+Q” or selecting the appropriate item in the top menu.

At the end of the download of a previous version of the operating system, you will see a notification that it cannot be started.

Preparing your flash drive

Open the Finder file manager. Select the folder marked 1 on the side menu. Go to the “Utilities” directory and start the application marked with “2”.

Create installation media for the latest macOS Cata

  • It requires a flash drive with at least 12 GB of storage space. Earlier versions of the operating system have smaller. 8GB is enough for our chosen Mojave. Select the attached drive in the side menu. On the toolbar press the “Erase” button.

    Set Mac OS Extended file system type without encryption in the popup window. Press the button with a double sign to start the formatting process.

    Wait for operation to complete. A green checkmark will appear on the drive icon and the utility will report the successful file system conversion. Close the utility by clicking on the “Finish” button.

    Creating media

    Open the file manager again. Follow the above path to the “Utilities” folder and launch Terminal.

    For macOS Mojave, selected by our experts, copy the following command into the prompt line:

    sudo /App

  • cations/Install\ macOS\ –volume /Volumes/MyVolume

    For commands for other system versions, see Apple’s support page. Enter the name of flash drive to be used for bootable data storage instead of “MyVolume”. In the screenshot below, it’s replaced with “Kingstone”. Press enter and in the next line marked with a twos, type in the user password. The symbols do not appear on the screen and their number is not marked with an asterisk.

    No matter if you formatted it before or not, the system prompts you to erase it. Enter the Latin letter “Y” in the space indicated by the arrow. Press Entrer on your keyboard to start erasing and writing.

    The operations are indicated by the progress bar in percent. This will show the new name that has been assigned to the drive.

    To conclude

    The step-by-step instructions provided by our experts will help you create a bootable flash drive for any current macOS version, if necessary.

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