0

2011 iMac running Sierra

I would like to have a copy of macOS that I can actually boot from and use on a USB key, so that I can run Carbon Copy Cloner from it to make backups of any volume on the machine at any time. I previously had a dedicated small partition on one of my drives for this purpose, but that drive died and going forward I would rather have this on a USB stick.

To be clear, I don't want a "bootable installer". I want a fully functional bootable macOS on the stick, i.e. it boots into Finder, etc. All the answers I've found related to this, are about creating bootable installers.

Can this be done and if so, how?

15
  • 1
    This seems a bit of an XY Problem. There's no need to boot from another OS drive to run CCC, it works perfectly well on any volume, including the one you're booted from. – Tetsujin Nov 15 '20 at 17:35
  • 1
    What version of macOS are you running and on what model of Mac? – user3439894 Nov 15 '20 at 17:36
  • 1
    I've been using CCC to clone my boot drive for probably a decade, without issue. – Tetsujin Nov 15 '20 at 17:37
  • 1
    Then Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! should be able to clone to an external USB drive and it be bootable. (At the present moment they do not work on macOS Big Sur to make bootable clones.) – user3439894 Nov 15 '20 at 17:38
  • 1
    It will even add a Recovery Partition too, if you want one. – Tetsujin Nov 15 '20 at 17:45
2

Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! can to clone to an external USB drive and it be bootable. (At the present moment they do not work on macOS Big Sur to make bootable clones.)

For versions of macOS prior to macOS Mojave, other options include:

  • Booting with a macOS USB Installer and then use Disk Utility to image the drive to another USB flash drive.

  • Creating a macOS USB Installer on one USB flash drive and actually installing macOS to another USB flash drive.

    • (This option actually can be used on macOS Mojave and later.)
7
  • I've read your answer numerous times, and I'm fairly sure that this is not what I was asking. I am not wondering how I can clone an image to another drive, that can later be used to make a bootable drive. I'm asking if I can install macOS, fully functional, to a USB key which I can boot off of, in order to run CCC (or whatever else). – JVC Nov 15 '20 at 19:09
  • @JVC, My answer show multiple ways to get macOS on to a USB drive as a working running full version of macOS. You either have to install macOS to the USB drive, just like doing a clean install to the internal drive, or clone an existing running version of macOS to the USB drive. That is exactly what my answer provides and if that is not what you want, that is to have a fully functions running version of macOS on a USB drive, then please clarify your question. – user3439894 Nov 15 '20 at 19:26
  • OK, that does sound like what I'm looking for, but your answer seems to only be talking about cloning an existing system to another drive, and having that clone be bootable. It does not mention anything about installing a fresh working macOS directly onto a flash drive. – JVC Nov 15 '20 at 19:29
  • @JVC RE: " It does not mention anything about installing a fresh working macOS directly onto a flash drive." -- , It most certainly does!... "Creating a macOS USB Installer on one USB flash drive and actually installing macOS to another USB flash drive.." – user3439894 Nov 15 '20 at 19:31
  • But I am not looking to "create a macOS USB Installer on one USB flash drive" I am looking to install macOS, fully working. Not an installer. I stated in my OP that I am not looking to create a bootable installer. – JVC Nov 15 '20 at 19:32

You must log in to answer this question.

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