I have a copy of the Windows XP install disk on my computer in the form of an .iso. I'm trying to install it to a partition using a bootable USB. I need to be able to make a bootable USB under Lion. How would I do this?

The USB is 4GB

EDIT: Got my VM working and I'm using a windows utility to make my USB drive bootable. I'll see how it works and post here when I'm done.

Also forgot to mention, according to Apple's Website my mac can handle XP. They just don't provide the software with lion to do so.

EDIT 2: Managed to get started, but not enough. Using my Windows XP VM and a program called "rufus" I made a bootable USB. Then using rEFIt I booted it up. But I got the following screen:

Booting Fail Screen

  • Hopefully we can patch together enough for this to work. It certainly was intended to work at one point in time on some Apple hardware.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


The simple process is to use Apple's Bootcanp to handle three problems you face in booting from windows:

  1. Partitioning your internal drive (you can skip this - it's what Bootcanp wants, but purely optional)
  2. Supply drivers - XP almost certainly won't have correct drivers for new Macs. Since you didn't mention your hardware, it might be old enough to not matter.
  3. Ensure the Mac EFI sees and initiates boot - this is where making a bootable USB trips up most users.

You'll want to look at a tool like rEFIt, rEFInd or bootrunner since just burning the image onto USB is not enough to boot foreign OS like an XP live CD image.

If that image doesn't include an EFI aware boot loader, you'll need to modify that ISO and wrap it in a boot loader such as GRUB.

  • I'm using Lion. How would I get Boot Camp 2/3 that supports XP. Bootcamp 4 comes installed with Lion, but that only supports Windows 7. And no, I can't get hold of Windows 7.
    – DonyorM
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:08
  • @DonyorM I'm not aware of a good source for older bootcamp than v4. You might have better luck using VirtualBox or another emulation if you can't source the older software. Hopefully someone you can trust has squirreled away a copy.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:42
  • Nope, I'm going to have to try this without using much of bootcamp. I'm getting some drivers, using the above answer. I'll post here how it goes.
    – DonyorM
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 3:12
  • @DonyorM Awesome! Post any edit you want to my answer or better - answer this with what you found even if it's a partial solution. Others will come along and help if they can.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 4:34
  • unfortunately, it currently doesn't work period. I made a bootable USB using "rufus" on my Windows VM. But Mac won't recongize it. I tried to use the bless command on the command line, but it didn't work. :( maybe I need a different program.
    – DonyorM
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 4:45

The problem with creating a bootable thumb drive from an XP installer ISO is that it is not officially supported by Microsoft. There are however lots of places out there with utilities that will take the XP (or other) ISO files and put it on a thumb drive and make it a bootable installer. Like this, for example


The problem then becomes that pretty much ALL of these utilities require Windows to create the bootable flash drive from the ISO. So there you have a chicken and egg problem. If you don't have a friend with a PC you could install XP in (the freeware) Virtualbox and use that to run your USB creation utility.

Then comes the hard part. Finding the XP Bootcamp drivers. This thread talks about that at some length.

How to download Bootcamp drivers without Bootcamp assistant?

Apple also has a page with Bootcamp downloads. How well this will work with the ISO you have is unknown to me. I DO know that later versions of Bootcamp will make a bootable thumbdrive with Windows on it and the Apple drivers included. I installed Windows 7 on a MacBook Air for one of the bosses at work just that way. Not sure if the earlier version will also do the same. Perhaps someone with experience installing XP this way knows. If so that would solve a lot of problems...


  • 1
    I would say VirtualBox to run XP would be the fastest path to XP on a Lion Mac, and the tools on linux/Windows would be better suited to finding and rolling the drivers needed and making a slipstream installer if it was worth that much effort to get XP on the Lion Mac running directly on the hardware. (Which as Steve points out, neither Microsoft nor Apple supports the method of installation or XP in this run configuration).
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:44
  • Good point! Virtualbox runs XP very well indeed. And assuming you have enough spare RAM (XP and Mac O/S at the same time) that would be a good choice! Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 20:33
  • I actually have the drivers. I have the Snow Leopard disk, which has the XP drivers on it. So that isn't as much of a problem. And I also do have VirtualBox. The real reason I need this is because of this problem: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/119244/…
    – DonyorM
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 1:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .