I could probably copy the contents from the package, but what is the best way to create an install Flash Drive for Mavericks?

Of course ideally the drive should be bootable.


5 Answers 5


Edit: this also should work for El Capitan with a 6.33GB+ partition

Currently the best way seems to be through createinstallmedia, which is also Apple's recommended method.

First create a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition on the USB key with 5GB or more:

8GB partition named MavericksInstall

then in the terminal use the createinstallmedia command. It can be found in the Maverick install apk. By default the path is /Applications/Install OS X Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia.

Replace /Volumes/MavericksInstall with your own partition name:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MavericksInstall --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

The output should be along these lines:

Copying installer files to disk...
Copy complete.
Making disk bootable...
Copying boot files...
Copy complete.

The setup should take few to few dozens minutes depending on your USB drive.

To create a USB installer for multiple OS X versions you can to go through the following procedure:

  • Start disk utility
  • Create multiple partitions formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Give them names like:
    • OS X Lion : LionInstall
    • OS X Mountain Lion : MountainLionInstall
    • OS X Mavericks : MavericksInstall

  • Generate multiple install partitions using the createinstallmedia tool of each OX 10.9+ version and add the other install partitions using disktool :
    • restore the InstallESD.dmg from /Applications/Install Mac OS X Lion/Contents/SharedSupport to /Volumes/LionInstall
    • restore the InstallESD.dmg from /Applications/Install OS X Mountain Lion/Contents/SharedSupport to /Volumes/MountainLionInstall
    • sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MavericksInstall --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

From experience here is the data usage for each OS X version :

  • OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard: 7.19GB
  • OSX 10.7 Lion: 4.78GB (requires 6.13 GB)
  • OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion: 4.48GB
  • OSX 10.9 Mavericks: 5.4GB
  • OSX 10.10 Yosemite: 5.25GB
  • OSX 10.11 El Capitan: 6.33GB
  • macOS Sierra: 4.84GB
  • This is a good answer. Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:36
  • @EddieKelley: Yeah I just started the install 10 minutes ago. The drive is bootable and so far everything works fine. I like it for being a one liner :)
    – Coyote
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:38
  • since it erases the disk, is it necessary to create the partition? I already wiped the disk as you instructed before using it, so I couldn't test. Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 3:15
  • Yes, you have to give the path to a valid existing partition. Apart from that I'm not sure if createinstallmedia simply copies the files and makes the partition bootable or if it erases the partition prior to that.
    – Coyote
    Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 23:27
  • This might be helpful if you use same drive for storage, to disable auto-mounting this volumes apple.stackexchange.com/questions/24539/…
    – diimdeep
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 19:09

The absolute easiest way (Trust me on this) is to download this application LionDiskMaker and it will do everything everyone have said, only it will do it all automatically

(feel free to donate (I'm not the creator of the app, however it works perfectly))

Direct Download link!

  • 1
    As it is now called DiskMakerX.
    – Simon
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 11:47
  • I would tend to disagree with this being the absolute easiest way. Why? Because, simply put, you're stuck with one USB Stick per one OSX Installer. If you want more than one OSX installer per your USB-stick, you're gonna have to use other methods. ( apple.stackexchange.com/questions/188398/… )
    – esaruoho
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 8:16

Assuming that you have a USB flash drive plugged into the computer that has the name "Untitled", my preferred method to create a bootable Mavericks install disk would probably be:

hdiutil mount "/Applications/Install OS X Mavericks.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg"

sudo asr restore --source "/Volumes/OS X Install ESD/BaseSystem.dmg" --target /Volumes/Untitled --erase

sudo unlink "/Volumes/OS X Base System/System/Installation/Packages"

sudo cp -Rp "/Volumes/OS X Install ESD/Packages" "/Volumes/OS X Base System/System/Installation"


  • Why do you do it that way rather than restore it via Disk Utility.app?
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:29
  • 1
    I don't like to use the mouse. Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:29
  • I looked in the DMG file and it looks like that partition isn't bootable anymore, so I'm not sure if this method will work to make a bootable installer.
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:32
  • The bootable image (BaseSystem.dmg) is an invisible file inside of the "wrapper" disk image (InstallESD.dmg), but the Packages folder inside of BaseSystem.dmg is simply a link to the external disk image (chicken and the egg). Imaging a drive with the BaseSystem.dmg, unlinking and then copying Packages into /System/Library/Installation/Packages results in a bootable 10.9 installer. Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:34
  • 1
    Yes, the installer will place a Recovery HD partition on the drive you install on. Note: this bootable USB drive is in essence a recovery partition. Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 0:22

From this Gist Creating a bootable OS X Mavericks USB installer:

  • First, plug in an 8GB (or bigger) USB drive, and use Disk Utility to erase it
  • If you use the default settings, you should wind up with a blank drive at /Volumes/Untitled.

With that volume in place, and with the Mavericks installer sitting in /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app, run the following command in your terminal to create a bootable install media:

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

You should see output like the following—it might take a while to finish.

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

To boot from the installer, reboot your Mac and hold down the alt/option key, and it will let you choose to boot from the USB disk.


Just copy the installer to the flash drive. When the flash drive is mounted all you need to do is double click it to install. It will install faster if you move it from the flash drive to the /Applications folder on your boot drive. It should also clean up the installer when it is finished.

  • Well this kind of works, but not if you need to reinstall from scratch, or to a new drive. A bootable flash drive is needed then.
    – Coyote
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:41

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