I have a working MacBook Pro as well as an old Dell laptop with no OS installed whatsoever. I'm giving the old laptop to a friend and I bought a Windows 10 license to install for them. The problem is burning the image properly!

There seems to be an issue in recent versions of Windows 10 where one of the files in the installer is too large for FAT32 so (unless I want to do some off-label dark magic during install, which I'd prefer to avoid) I need to burn directly to NTFS. I installed the trial of Paragon's NTFS for Mac, which lets me format the drive, but I haven't been able to find any Mac applications that will let me burn an image in NTFS.

  • Unetbootin explicitly requires FAT32
  • Boot Camp Assistant - in recent versions - apparently no longer supports external drives at all (it explicitly won't even proceed unless I physically disconnect all drives)
  • balenaEtcher provides a warning that it may not work properly for windows images and then fails during the burning process with no explanation

Does anyone have experience with burning NTFS on mac or know of a tool that could help here?

  • Have you tried exFAT? Jul 29, 2020 at 14:01
  • As far as I can tell, exFAT isn't bootable by my Dell XPS Jul 29, 2020 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


The Windows 10 ISO file you download from Microsoft is not the same as the Windows 10 ISO file created using the Microsoft media creation tool.

The following steps can be used to create the Windows 10 installation media for a PC.

  1. Install VirtualBox.

    Note: This is free product.

  2. Go to the link https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 and download the Windows 10 ISO.

  3. Create a Windows 10 virtual machine.

    Note: You do not need a license (product key) to create and temporarily use this Windows 10 virtual machine.

  4. From the virtual machine, Go to the link https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 and download the Windows 10 media creation tool.

    Note: This web page, given in the above link, can not be viewed from Safari unless you select an User Agent such as Microsoft Edge.

  5. Run the media creation tool to either download the Windows 10 ISO or write the installation files to a flash drive.

    Note: Access to a flash drive will require the installation of the VirtualBox Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack.

  6. If you used the media creation tool to download the Windows 10 ISO, then transfer the ISO back to macOS and burn a DVD.

I should point out that if the laptop has Windows 7 or a newer version of Windows, then there is a good chance you could upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

  • Thanks, I'll try this! I'm currently troubleshooting the process of getting the USB key exposed through a Device Filter Jul 29, 2020 at 16:30
  • 1
    Getting USB key exposed is the tricky part! I think you have manually unmount (or eject) the USB key in macOS before the virtual machine can access the USB key. Also, the name of the USB key will usually be something unexpected. Jul 29, 2020 at 17:47

Try using terminal dd command to copy iso/img file to external USB drive like described here.

NOTE: be very careful:

  • dd command is low-level utility which will erase the whole external drive
  • when detecting which drive/partition you external USB is assigned to

Additionally, I am using MacOS Catalina and on my system I have noted that copy using dd compared to cp/copy is much much slower - what is surprising, it should be the opposite.

  • This works in a stellar way @Robert Lujo and produces a great boot stick for Windows machines. One should note this is not bootable on, at least older, Macs, that won't read NTFS for boots and requires FAT. Using an older Windows 10 image seems to be the only way out for that.
    – MiB
    Jan 11 at 19:51

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