Create an OS X Mavericks Installer Drive in 4 Simple Steps

Create an OS X Mavericks Installer Drive in 4 Simple Steps

Oct 23, 2013 - Leave a Comment
Create an OS X Mavericks Install Drive

OS X Mavericks is now available to everyone as a free download, and while you can update as many Macs as you want by downloading the installer repeatedly from the Mac App Store, a better option for many is to create a simple bootable USB install drive. We covered this some time ago using a fairly technical process, but Apple must have realized that method was overly complex for many users and has included a much simpler method to create OS X Mavericks install media. Users will still need to turn to the Terminal to finish the job, but this time around only a single command needs to be executed, making it much easier and faster than the manual approach. We will show you exactly how to create a Mavericks boot installer in four simple steps, even if you have no experience with the command line you’ll be able to do it.

Requirements for this are basic, you will need the free OS X Mavericks installer on a Mac, and an 8GB external drive or greater that you don’t mind being formatted. External hard drives work, as do USB flash drive volumes, and Thunderbolt disks.

1: Download OS X Mavericks for Free

Yes, OS X Mavericks is a free update for all Mac users. Here is the direct link to the Mac App Store if you haven’t downloaded it yet.

Download Mavericks from the Mac App Store

Yes, you can easily re-download Mavericks even if you have already installed it. If you’re using this guide for a re-downloaded version of Mavericks simply jump straight to step #3.

2: Stop When You See This Screen

When Mavericks is done downloading you will see the screen below to begin the installation – stop – and do not continue yet if you want to make a USB install drive.

OS X Mavericks Install Screen

3: Connect the External Drive

Now is the time to connect the external drive or USB flash disk to the Mac that you want to convert into the installer, so plug it in. Remember, this external drive will be formatted to turn into the Mavericks bootable installation volume, so don’t use an external drive that has important data or documents on it.
Creating a Mavericks install drive with USB flash disk

4: Launch Terminal to Make the Mavericks Install Media

The Terminal app is found within /Applications/Utilities/ or you can launch it from Spotlight. Once at the command line, you will need to enter the following command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

Be sure the entire command string is on a single line. You will need to replace “Untitled” in the volume path with the name of your external drive that you want to turn into the installer disk, this should match the name of the external USB flash drive exactly. The Terminal will wrap text so it may look something like this:

Terminal command to make an OS X  Mavericks installer

Because the command uses sudo you will need to enter the Macs administrator password to continue the process, note that when typing admin passwords into the command line using sudo or su the password text will not display and it will appear as if nothing is being typed, that is a security feature, just type the password as usual and hit return.

Once executed you will see a progress indicator in the Terminal that looks like the following, the entire creation process is automated but can take some time so it’s best to leave alone for a while until you see the final “Done” text.

Erasing Disk: 0%... 10%... 20%... 30%...100%...
Copying installer files to disk...

Copy complete.
Making disk bootable...

Copying boot files...
Copy complete.

Exit out of Terminal and return to the Finder if you want to confirm the OS X Mavericks installation drive was created. You will see it in the Finder (or desktop) labeled as “Install OS X Mavericks” and the volume contains a single installer app.

The OS X Mavericks installer drive

You can now choose to install Mavericks with the original installer that you stopped at in the first step, or use the installation volume you just created.

For what it’s worth, the original USB creation method continues to work, but this new approach is much faster and generally more user friendly, making it the preferred choice for just about everyone.
This drive is a standard OS X installer but it’s also bootable, meaning it can be used for upgrading from prior versions of Mac OS X (Mavericks 10.9 supports direct upgrades from Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6, Lion 10.7, or Mountain Lion 10.8), or to perform entirely fresh installations. Regardless of the Mac being installed on, it’s a good idea to prepare the Mac for the 10.9 upgrade by cleaning it up a bit and backing up the data.

Booting from the Mavericks Install Drive

Booting a Mac from the freshly created Mavericks install drive is easy:
  • Connect the Mavericks installer drive and reboot the Mac
  • Hold down the Option key during boot to bring up the startup disk menu
  • Select the Install OS X Mavericks media to boot from the installer volume, if it’s a USB drive it will have an orange icon
Boot from the Mavericks installer

This will boot directly into the Mavericks installer where you can upgrade or reinstall OS X. The install is almost entirely automated once you select the volume, and the total installation time is usually about 35 minutes to 1 hour, though it may take longer depending on the Mac model.

Thanks to @Nor Eddine Bahha who originally posted the createinstallmedia command string on our Facebook page, and thanks to everyone else who sent this great trick in through email, Google+, and Twitter as well. Enjoy Mavericks!

How to make your own bootable OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB install drive | Ars Technica

How to make your own bootable OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB install drive | Ars Technica

Apple has changed things in 10.9, but making a recovery drive is still possible.

The only-slightly-less-easy way

If you don't want to use Diskmaker X for some reason, poster tywebb13 on the MacRumors forums has your hookup. Assuming that you have the OS X Mavericks installer in your Applications folder, and you have a Mac OS X Extended (Journaled)-formatted volume named "Untitled" mounted on the system, you can create a Mavericks install drive by typing the following command into the Terminal.
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

The command will erase the disk and copy the install files over. Give it some time, and your volume will soon be loaded up with not just the OS X installer, but also an external recovery partition that may come in handy if your hard drive dies and you're away from an Internet connection.

Whichever method you use, you should be able to boot from your new USB drive either by changing the default Startup Disk in System Preferences or by holding down the Option key at boot and selecting the drive. Once booted, you'll be able to install or upgrade Mavericks as you normally would.

Update: This article originally contained instructions for using Lion Diskmaker 3 beta 3. It has been updated for the release of Diskmaker X, the non-beta version of the same program.

When Apple released OS X 10.7 two years ago, it stopped selling operating system DVDs in its stores, stopped shipping recovery disks with new Macs, and switched to downloadable installers for OS X upgrades. These download-only installers have actually worked pretty well—I’ve never had an issue downloading the software from the Mac App Store or restoring a Mac using the Internet Recovery feature when something went south. That said, it’s still nice to have an install disk handy for those cases when you don’t have a connection, when your connection is slow, or when you just have a whole bunch of Macs and don’t want to have to download the installer on each and every one of them.

The good news is, as with Lion and Mountain Lion, it’s possible to create a local USB installer for Mavericks. The bad news is that it wasn’t as simple as it was before—Apple has changed the way the installer works, and making an install disk manually is more difficult than it used to be. Before we get started, here’s what you’ll need:
  • An 8GB or larger USB flash drive, or an 8GB or larger partition on some other kind of external drive.
  • The OS X 10.9 Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store in your Applications folder. The installer will delete itself when you install the operating system, but it can be re-downloaded if necessary.
  • The latest version of Diskmaker X app, available here. This app is free to download, but the creator accepts donations if you want to support his efforts.
  • An administrator account on the Mac you're using to create the disk.

The easy way

Enlarge / Diskmaker X remains the easiest, most user friendly way to get this done.
Andrew Cunningham
Once you've obtained all of the necessary materials, install the Diskmaker X app to your Applications folder. The app can currently make installers for OS X 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9, but we're only interested in Mavericks today.

Diskmaker X has actually been around since the days of OS X 10.7 (it was previously known as Lion Diskmaker), but it's more important now because Apple has made alterations to the installer that prevent the old Disk Utility method from working. It's still possible to create a disk manually using a Terminal command (which we'll go into momentarily), but Diskmaker X presents an easy GUI-based way to do it that is less intimidating to most people. One note of caution: Diskmaker X no longer supports creating OS X install DVDs. This isn't going to be a problem for any Mac that can actually install Mavericks, but if you'd rather use a disc than a USB drive, you're apparently out of luck.

Anyway, select OS X 10.9 in Diskmaker X, and the app should automatically find the copy you've downloaded to your Applications folder, but clicking "Use another copy" will let you browse the drive if you happen to have moved it. It will then ask you where you want to copy the files—click "An 8GB USB thumb drive" if you have a single drive to use, or "Another kind of disk" to use a partition on a larger drive or some other kind of external drive. Choose your disk (or partition) from the list that appears, verify that you'd like to have the disk (or partition) erased, and then wait for the files to copy over. The process is outlined in screenshots below.

OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review | Ars Technica

OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review | Ars Technica

No longer an apex predator, OS X takes some time for introspection.

Mavericks banner
Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock
After a dozen years and nine major releases, OS X has had a full life: the exuberance of youth, gradually maturing into adulthood, and now, perhaps, entering its dotage. When I am an old operating system I shall wear… leather?

The 2011 release of OS X 10.7 Lion seemed to mark the natural endpoint of the "big cat" naming scheme. But Apple couldn't resist the lure of the "cat, modifier cat" naming pattern, releasing OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion a year later. Perhaps it just wanted to give its cat nine lives.

The 10th major release, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, is named after an awkwardly plural California surfing spot, finally ending the feline dynasty. But what part of the operating system's existence is this? The afterlife?

When it comes to OS X, many people are suffering from the end-of-history illusion: the belief that while the Mac platform has consistently experienced significant enhancements in the past, it will somehow not continue to grow and mature in the future.

So let's readjust our perspective. Perhaps the first seven big-cat releases were OS X's early childhood: birth, potty training, learning to walk and talk, and so on, culminating in some form of self-actualization.

With Lion, the Mac entered an awkward adolescence, acquiring a newfound concern about what the other kids were doing. Accordingly, OS X's last two releases included several naked attempts to ape the look and feel of its more successful sibling, iOS.

But that was all before last year's ouster of Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS Software. By all accounts, Forstall was one of the driving forces behind the iOS aesthetic that Lion and Mountain Lion so enthusiastically embraced. Jony Ive's iOS 7 strikes off in a bold new direction based on a philosophy that Apple is eager to generalize to the company as a whole—leaving OS X holding the stitched-leather bag.

An OS out to sea

Let's say we accept that this is not the end of history and that OS X will continue to evolve. To what end? Aside from undoing the most egregious peer-pressure-motivated interface changes, what should this first non-cat release of OS X do differently from its predecessors?

One option would be to continue to follow iOS's lead, switching gears from rich textures and simulations of analogous physical products and setting off in pursuit of the new, spare iOS 7 aesthetic. I'll spoil it for you: Apple hasn't chosen this path—not yet, anyway. Time and resource constraints alone could explain this choice. After all, Apple didn't even have the iPad version of iOS 7 ready in time for WWDC this year. An interface overhaul in Mavericks was clearly out of the question.
Mavericks is also not an internals-only release like Snow Leopard, which famously promised "no new features." There are new features in Mavericks, even new bundled applications.

To some degree, the content of any OS release is determined by what did and didn't make the deadline for the previous release. There are exceptions, like Fusion Drive, which didn't quite make it into Mountain Lion but also couldn't wait for the next major OS release because it was a prerequisite for some new hardware products.

Nevertheless, Apple does try to give each new OS some sort of theme. Mavericks is the first California-themed release of OS X, named after "places that inspire us here in California," according to Craig Federighi, who says this naming scheme is intended to last for at least the next 10 years. The pressure is on for Mavericks to set a new direction for the Mac platform.

According to Apple, Mavericks has a dual focus. Its first and most important goal is to extend battery life and improve responsiveness. Secondarily, Mavericks aims to add functionality that will appeal to "power users" (Apple's words), a group that may be feeling neglected after enduring two releases of OS X playing iOS dress-up.

Is that enough for Mavericks to live up to its major-release version number and to kick off the next phase of OS X's life? Let's find out.

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