I have 2 Macs, and am downloading El Capitan from the app store. I want to see if I can install it on an older MacBook Pro that has a broken Command-R feature that prevents me from installing the OS. (It says contact apple support)

Since that costs $, I'd rather see if I can simply boot and reinstall the OS in a clean way.

How do I locate and burn the downloaded El Capitan in a way that will make it bootable on the other mac?


Apple does not sell an optical media version of El Capitan. You need to use OS X Recovery or a USB drive to re-install El Capitan, which is relatively simple to create. All you need is an 8 GB USB drive and a computer running OS X. Instructions on how to create such an installer are here: How to make a bootable OS X 10.11 El Capitan installer drive

Making the installer drive

  1. Connect to your Mac a properly formatted 8GB (or larger) drive, and rename the drive Untitled. (The Terminal commands I provide here assume that the drive is named Untitled. If the drive isn’t named Untitled, the procedure won’t work.)

  2. Make sure the El Capitan installer (or at least a copy of it), called Install OS X El Capitan.app, is in its default location in your main Applications folder (/Applications).

  3. Select the text of the following Terminal command and copy it.

    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume

    /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app --nointeraction

  4. Launch Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities).

  5. Warning: This step will erase the destination drive or partition, so make sure that it doesn’t contain any valuable data. Paste the copied command into Terminal and press Return.

  6. Type your admin-level account password when prompted, and then press Return.

  7. You may see the message “To continue we need to erase the disk at /Volumes/Untitled. If you wish to continue type (Y) then press return:” If so, type the letter Y and then press Return. If you don't see this message, you're already set.

The Terminal window displays createinstallmedia’s progress as a textual representation of a progress bar: Erasing Disk: 0%... 10 percent...20 percent... and so on. You also see a list of the program’s tasks as they occur: Copying installer files to disk... Copy complete. Making disk bootable... Copying boot files... Copy complete. The procedure can take as little as a couple minutes, or as long as 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how fast your Mac can copy data to the destination drive. Once you see Copy Complete. Done., as shown in the screenshot above, the process has finished.

Createinstallmedia will have renamed your drive from Untitled to Install OS X El Capitan. You can rename the drive (in the Finder) if you like—renaming it won’t prevent it from working properly.

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