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How to Build a Bootable USB Installer for OS X Mavericks (Updated for Golden Master)

Posted in How To, OS X on 11/06/2013 by J. Glenn Künzler

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Now that Apple has released their Golden Master seed of OS X Mavericks to developers, the public release could happen at practically any time!  With the Golden Master – which represents the final build that Apple will release publicly in the Mac App Store - Apple has changed the necessary steps required to build a fully functional bootable USB installer for the preview.

OS X Mavericks

A USB install disc can be an important tool to quickly and easily install a fresh copy on your Mac, without first having to install OS X Mountain Lion and then upgrade using the Mac App Store method. Since Apple has changed a few things since their first developer preview, we’ve got a new method for creating a USB install disc also – and this one should work for many versions of OS X to come.

Note: While the old method still technically works, it will not install a Recovery Partition, whereas this new method will. Before you proceed, please note that you will need a flash drive at least 8GB in size or larger.

Here’s how to make it work, courtesy of some helpful instructions from MacRumors forum member tywebb13:

Your 8 GB USB drive should be called Untitled and formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). The installer should be called Install OS X Mavericks.app and should be in your Applications folder.

Run this in terminal and wait about 20 minutes:

sudo /Applications/Install OS X Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X Mavericks.app –nointeraction

You should see something like this:

Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%… 20%… 100%…
Copying installer files to disk…
Copy complete.
Making disk bootable…
Copying boot files…
Copy complete.
Done.

Patience is key. The process can take up to 20-30 minutes to finish, even though Terminal may not look like it is doing anything. Make sure to wait until you see the “Done.” prompt before exiting Terminal or interrupting the process.

That’s all there is to it! For reference, the original method of creating a USB boot drive can also be found below.

  • Original Method

MacRumors forum member Dalton63841 shares the details over at the MacRumors OS X Mavericks forum:

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 1.13.34 PM

1. Show hidden files by opening /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app and typing the following:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
killall Finder

2. Right click Installer.app file and click Show Package Contents, Open Contents folder, then look in SharedSupport folder. You will see InstallESD.dmg.
3. Mount InstallESD.dmg.
4. Copy the BaseSystem.dmg file out to somewhere convenient.
5. Do not mount BaseSystem.dmg. Just open Disk Utility and restore it to a flash drive.
6. When that’s done look in the flash drive you just restored to and go to /System/Installation/. In that folder you will see a white icon with an arrow called Packages. That’s a broken alias. Delete it.
7. Now go back to your InstallESD.dmg file. Inside is a folder weighing in at about 4.5GB called Packages. Copy that folder onto the flash drive in place of where the alias was.
8. Go ahead and hide the hidden folders again by going back to the Terminal and typing:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE
killall Finder

9. Done. Boot from the flash drive and get to work.

As per usual, don’t blame me if you screw up.

For more helpful tips, check out our full collection of tutorials by visiting our How-To category!

* Updated and confirmed working on October 11, 2013 for the OS X Mavericks Golden Master



  • Rohith

    thank you !!

  • Joe Bloe

    Step 4 is totally unnecessary.

    Steps 1 and 8 aren’t really necessary either. You can just type (or paste) the path to the BaseSystem.dmg image into the “Source” field in Disk Utility once you’ve mounted InstallESD.dmg. That path should be: “/Volumes/Install OS X ESD/BaseSystem.dmg”

    • Maxthon Chan

      Or you can open terminal, `cd /Volumes/OS X Install ESD` and `hdiutil mount BaseSystem.dmg` and it will show up in Disk Utilities as mounted.

  • m3rih

    but with this method, just installation screen appear when booted from usb. No disk utility no online help. How can we make clean install?

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      Right now there is no way to do that. Future betas will likely change that.

      • TJungus

        Assuming you have 10.7+ installed, you could just boot to Recovery, format, boot to USB. Very clean install.

  • tewdwr

    It all worked for me except that I get a kernel panic (i think) whenever I press a key (except brightness/volome/mission control buttons), unless I boot in safe mode. Is there a fix?

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      Nope. Not until the next developer preview.

      • tewdwr

        Thanks for responding, have you seen my issue elsewhere?

        • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

          Not yet.

  • Yi Chen

    I downloaded the dmg, but whenever i try to open it it says it’s not recognized. why isn’t it happening to anyone else?

  • Rodrigo Sarzosa

    I got a MBP 2011 without USB 3.0, so the benefits a USB Install are somehow not convenient for people in my situation?

    Can you post the instructions for creating a DVD Mavericks Install. I will asume you need a Double Layer DVD, just like in Mountain Lion.

  • postdeals

    Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%… 20%…100%…
    Copying installer files to disk…
    Copy complete.
    Making disk bootable…
    Copying boot files…
    Failed to copy kernelcache, The file “kernelcache” couldn’t be opened.
    Done.

  • postdeals

    Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%… 20%…100%…
    Copying installer files to disk…
    Copy complete.
    Making disk bootable…
    Copying boot files…
    Failed to copy kernelcache, The file “kernelcache” couldn’t be opened.
    Done.

  • AcidSCAN

    When you copied the command, the double “-” were removed. The proper syntax is:

    sudo /Applications/Install OS X Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X Mavericks.app –nointeraction

  • themis

    when ii do the terminal it sais “command not found” what’s that?

  • kenig

    Worked like a charm, thanks!

J. Glenn Künzler

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.