I read with interest this post about setting up a flash drive with multiple OS X installers. It confirms what I've suspected by my tests with just one OS (Lion).

However, a question occurred to me: How do you avoid multiple instances of "Mac OS X" appearing as possible boot choices? In other words, how do you know which one is which?

EDIT: I am referring to the situation when booting with the "Option" key held down, showing all available boot sources.

  • Does the boot loader distinguish between them somehow?
  • If not, can I (safely) rename the string in the "SystemVersion.plist" file on each partition?
  • Get a 16gb or 32gb usb stick

  • Partition it with GPT (to have EFI partition on it) if you trying to install os x on non apple hardware = hackintosh use MBR and manually add an EFI partition (EFI specification says it can live with mbr as well)

  • restore InstallESD.dmg with Disk Utility to a partition for each Installer Image you wish. Just make sure your partitions have at least 5gb space.

Your partition table on your USB stick could look like this

/dev/diskX1 - EFI

/dev/diskX2 - Osx Lion

/dev/diskX3 - Osx Mountain Lion

/dev/diskX4 - Osx Snow Leopard

/dev/diskX5 - Osx Whatever

install rEFIt on the usb sticks EFI Partiotion to have a boot loader. EFI Partitions are 200mb, named EFI, filesystem type is FAT to check if you got one on your usb stick enter in terminal diskutil list and look for EFI in the lists, shoud be '/dev/diskX*s1*' since it's the first partition on GPT based tables

if trying to use install OS x on non Apple Hardware (==osx86) use Clover V2 instead of Refit. Put your Usb into your computer and boot from it. If you don't see a boot menu on Mac after installing refit - read the readme file and bless the disk from terminal.

Be happy with your uber usb installer


Haven't tried it for a long time, but it didn't distinguish them in any way.

If you want an easy way of clearly setting them apart, you could just change the default Macintosh HD name of the HD (just by hitting Enter, no need to change any .plist).

  • How does that change the names in the boot loader screen? I agree that renaming the volumes would make a difference if I were to use the System Prefs to choose the startup volume. The problem there is that assumes the system is even bootable. – Tim Lapin Jul 11 '12 at 14:22
  • Well, it will work if each bootable source is in a different partition. – Thecafremo Jul 11 '12 at 14:26
  • They are in different partitions, in fact they have to be, given the recommended method of creating them in the first place. I asked about the .plist file because I found the ID string used to name the things and figured that it might be the only way of forcing them to be different. I'll give your suggestion a try when I get a key large enough to hold 10.6, 10.7 and the upcoming 10.8. – Tim Lapin Jul 11 '12 at 14:30

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