Trying to install a clean version of El Capitan from a USB stick to an empty hard drive. I'm unable to boot to the Installer though, it just gets stuck with the Apple logo and the progress bar underneath. The progress bar fills up completely, but then nothing happens. Waited over an hour now. Anything I can try to get past it?

It's a 2008 Late Aluminium Macbook.


2 Answers 2


If you have access to another mac, try this. Hold down the T key during boot on the mac with new hard drive installed. This will put that machine in target boot mode.

Connect the two Macs with either a fire wire cable or a thundbolt cable.

On the 2nd mac run the El Capitan installer. When asked where to install the OS point it at the other mac (with new hard drive installed) which should now be seen in finder. If it does not show up in finder. Launch disk utility and format the drive.

It sounds as if the USB installer is broken. However as long as you have access to another mac you do not need to make another usb installer. Just download El Capitan from the app store and follow the above instructions.


What OSX did you have before? If you want to do this without having ever upgraded from Leopard or Snow Leopard, it will not work I guess (not 100% sure). The progress bar first indicates reading the firmware, after that it (tries to)read the OSX (installer in this case). Are you sure the empty drive is correctly formatted, GUID Partition Table, and, Mac OS X Extended (journaled).

  • It's a brand new hard drive. Am I not able to install onto a brand new hard drive? I'm not trying to boot after installing - i'm trying to boot the installer.
    – Squimmy
    Jul 25, 2016 at 20:06
  • @Squimmy can you boot into the USB drive on the Mac and then use disk utility to format the drive?
    – kal-al
    Jul 26, 2016 at 0:18

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