How to Make a Bootable USB for Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome to this article on how to make a bootable USB for a Mac! If you’re here, you’re likely someone who needs to install macOS onto a new Mac or reinstall it on an existing one. Or, perhaps you’re just a curious tech enthusiast. Either way, making a bootable USB is an essential step in this process.

Let’s get started with the steps!


Step 1: Download macOS Installer

The first step in creating your bootable USB is to download the macOS installer. This can be done by searching for the latest version of macOS in the App Store, and then clicking “Download.” Once the download is complete, the installer will open automatically. If it doesn’t, simply navigate to your Applications folder and double-click the installer.

Step 2: Insert USB Drive

Next, insert the USB drive into your Mac. Be sure to select a drive with at least 8GB of storage capacity.

Step 3: Open Disk Utility

Once the USB drive is inserted, open Disk Utility. This can be done by searching for the program in Spotlight, or by opening Finder, selecting “Applications,” then “Utilities,” and finally “Disk Utility.”

Step 4: Select USB Drive

In Disk Utility, select the USB drive from the list of available drives on the left side of the window.

Step 5: Erase the USB Drive

Click on the “Erase” button in Disk Utility and follow the prompts to erase the USB drive. Be sure to select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the format type.

Step 6: Rename the USB Drive

Next, rename your USB drive to something recognizable. This can be done by selecting the drive and clicking on the “Rename” button.

Step 7: Open Terminal

Now it’s time to open Terminal. This can be done by searching for “Terminal” in Spotlight, or by opening Finder, selecting “Applications,” then “Utilities,” and finally “Terminal.”

Step 8: Enter Command

In Terminal, enter the following command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\

(Note: This command is for macOS Sierra. If you are using a different version of macOS, simply replace “Sierra” in the command with the name of your version.)

Step 9: Authenticate

After entering the command, Terminal will prompt you to authenticate using your administrator password. Enter your password and press enter.

Step 10: Wait

Now, all you have to do is wait. The process of creating a bootable USB can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the speed of your Mac and USB drive.

Step 11: Eject USB Drive

Once the process is complete, eject the USB drive by dragging it to the trash or by using the eject button in Finder.

Step 12: Done!

And that’s it! Your bootable USB drive should now be ready to use.


To understand why each of these steps is necessary, let’s break them down one by one.

Step 1

The installer is the starting point for creating a bootable USB. Without it, you won’t be able to complete the process.

Step 2

The USB drive is the vehicle for carrying the macOS installer to the new or existing Mac.

Step 3

Disk Utility is the tool we use to prepare the USB drive for use in the Mac installation process.

Step 4

Selecting the correct drive is crucial to ensure that you are formatting the right drive and not accidentally deleting important data.

Step 5

Erasing the USB drive is a necessary step in preparing it for the Mac installation process.

Step 6

Renaming the USB drive to something recognizable can save you from accidentally selecting the wrong drive during the installation process.

Step 7

Terminal is necessary for us to enter the command that creates the bootable USB drive.

Step 8

This command is specific to the version of macOS you are installing, and must be entered correctly for the process to succeed.

Step 9

Authenticating with your administrator password is necessary to allow the command to execute with the necessary permissions.

Step 10

The time required to create a bootable USB can vary depending on factors like the speed of your Mac and USB drive, as well as the version of macOS you are installing.

Step 11

Ejecting the USB drive ensures that it’s safe to remove from your computer, and that no data is corrupted in the process.

Step 12

Success! You now have a working bootable USB drive for your Mac.

Tips and Tricks

1. Keep a backup of the installer

It can be incredibly helpful to keep a backup of your macOS installer, either on a separate USB drive or in the cloud.

2. Use a high-quality USB drive

Investing in a high-quality USB drive can save you time and headaches during the installation process.

3. Double-check the drive selection before erasing

Be absolutely certain that you have selected the correct USB drive before erasing it, so that you don’t accidentally delete any important data.

4. Set aside ample time for the process

Creating a bootable USB can take time, so be sure to set aside a block of time where you won’t be interrupted.

5. Use a wired Internet connection for download

Downloading the macOS installer can take some time, so for best results, it’s recommended that you use a wired Internet connection instead of Wi-Fi.

6. Be patient during the process

Creating a bootable USB can take time due to the large size of the installer, so be patient and allow the process to complete without interruption.

7. Check the USB drive’s compatibility

Before creating the bootable USB, double-check that your USB drive is compatible with your Mac.

8. Keep your Mac plugged in during the process

Creating a bootable USB can consume a lot of power, so make sure that your Mac is plugged in and charging during the process.

9. Verify the bootable USB

After the process is complete, verify that the USB drive is bootable and is working as intended by connecting it to your Mac and booting from it.

10. Be ready for issues

Creating a bootable USB can sometimes throw up errors or issues. Be prepared to troubleshoot any issues that may arise, and don’t be afraid to seek out help if necessary.

In conclusion, creating a bootable USB drive for your Mac is an essential step in the installation or reinstallation process of macOS. With these steps and tips, you should be able to create a bootable USB with ease. Happy installing!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Making a Bootable USB on Mac

Creating a bootable USB on your Mac can be very useful if you need to install or repair your operating system. But just like any tool, it comes with both advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will discuss them in detail.


  1. Convenience: Having a bootable USB drive is much more convenient than having a disc. It’s smaller, lighter and easier to carry around.

  2. Faster Installation: Installing your operating system from a bootable USB is much faster than installing it from a disc.

  3. Compatibility: Bootable USB drives can work on different computers, including older machines that don’t have a CD/DVD drive.

  4. Less Wasted Disks: When you create a bootable USB, you don’t have to worry about wasting a disc if the burning process fails.

  5. Customization: You can customize your bootable USB by adding other useful tools and files, such as antivirus software or drivers.

  6. Environmentally Friendly: Creating a bootable USB is more environmentally friendly than using discs, as you don’t have to throw away any waste.

  7. Better Performance: Installing your operating system from a bootable USB can result in better performance compared to a disc installation.

  8. Storage Capacity: A USB drive usually has more storage capacity than a disc, allowing you to store other files and documents as well.

  9. Secure: With a bootable USB, you can enable encryption to secure your data from unauthorized access.

  10. Easy to Maintain: A bootable USB is easier to maintain than a disc, as it doesn’t scratch or wear out over time.


  1. Cost: Creating a bootable USB drive can be more expensive than burning a disc.

  2. Technical Knowledge: Creating a bootable USB requires some technical knowledge and skill, which can be a challenge for some users.

  3. Compatibility Issues: Bootable USB drives may have compatibility issues with some computers or devices, especially older models.

  4. File Format: Some computers may not recognize the file format of a bootable USB drive, which can cause problems during installation.

  5. Security Risks: Bootable USB drives can be vulnerable to malware or viruses, which can compromise the security of your data.

  6. Limited Storage: Some USB drives have limited storage capacity, which may not be enough to store additional files or documents.

  7. Read/Write Speed: The read/write speed of a USB drive may be slower than that of a disc, causing slower installation times.

  8. Durability: USB drives are more prone to physical damage than discs, and can easily break or malfunction if not handled properly.

  9. Dependency: If your computer cannot boot from USB, you will need to use a disc instead.

  10. File Systems: Different operating systems may require different file systems for bootable USB drives, which can be confusing for some users.


1. What is a bootable USB for Mac?

A bootable USB for Mac is a USB device that contains the necessary files to start up or boot a Mac computer. It can be used to install or reinstall macOS, run diagnostics or troubleshoot problems on a Mac computer.

2. What are the requirements for making a bootable USB for Mac?

You’ll need a USB drive with at least 8GB of space, a Mac computer with an internet connection, and an image of the macOS installer that corresponds to your Mac model.

3. Where can I download the macOS installer image?

You can download the macOS installer image from the App Store or from Apple’s official website.

4. How do I make a bootable USB for Mac?

There are different methods to make a bootable USB for Mac, but one easy way is to use the Disk Utility app that is built into macOS.

5. How do I use Disk Utility to create a bootable USB for Mac?

First, connect your USB drive to your Mac. Then, open Disk Utility and select your USB drive. Click on the “Erase” tab and choose the format “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”. Give your USB drive a name and click on “Erase”. Next, open the Terminal app, type in the command to create a bootable installer from the macOS installer image and press “Return”. Follow the prompts to select your USB drive and create the bootable USB for Mac.

6. Can I use a Windows computer to make a bootable USB for Mac?

No, you need a Mac computer to create a bootable USB for Mac.

7. Can I use any USB drive to make a bootable USB for Mac?

No, not every USB drive is compatible with a Mac. It’s recommended to use a USB drive that is made for Mac or that is at least compatible with the Mac file system.

8. How do I use a bootable USB for Mac?

You can use a bootable USB for Mac to install or reinstall macOS, boot up a Mac computer that is having problems, or run diagnostics.

9. How do I boot up a Mac computer from a USB drive?

To boot up a Mac computer from a USB drive, connect the USB drive to your Mac, restart your Mac, and hold down the “Option” key. You’ll see a list of bootable devices, including the USB drive. Select the USB drive and press “Enter”. Your Mac will start up from the USB drive.

10. What do I do if my bootable USB for Mac is not working?

If your bootable USB for Mac is not working, try to create a new bootable USB using a different USB drive or a different method. Make sure you have a good internet connection and a reliable macOS installer image. You can also try to troubleshoot the problem using the Terminal app or Disk Utility.

11. Can I use a bootable USB for Mac on multiple Mac computers?

Yes, you can use a bootable USB for Mac on multiple Mac computers as long as they are compatible with the same macOS version and have the same system requirements.

12. Can I use a bootable USB for Mac to downgrade my macOS version?

Yes, you can use a bootable USB for Mac to downgrade your macOS version, but you’ll need to backup your data first and be aware of the risks and limitations of downgrading.

13. How do I eject a bootable USB for Mac?

To eject a bootable USB for Mac, simply drag the USB drive icon to the Trash or right-click on the USB drive icon and select “Eject”.


In conclusion, creating a bootable USB for your Mac is a simple process that can be done in a few steps. This method is useful when you need to install a new operating system or troubleshoot your device. While the process can seem complicated at first, following these steps should make it much easier to complete.

Always make sure that you have enough available space on your USB drive, and that you are using a good quality drive to ensure the best results. While there are many programs available to help create bootable USBs, using Disk Utility is a reliable method that has been proven to work well for many users.


Now that you know how to make a bootable USB for your Mac, you can use this knowledge to install new operating systems, recover data or troubleshoot your device. Remember to always follow the instructions carefully, and don’t hesitate to reach out to Mac support if you need any assistance.

Thank you for reading, and we hope that this guide has been helpful to you. Good luck with your bootable USB creation, and we’ll see you again soon!