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Advanced Mac users may want to convert a MacOS Installer application to an ISO file. Typically, the resulting installer ISO files are used for installing macOS on virtual machines such as VMWare or VirtualBox, but they can also be used to burn the ISO to media to create a boot disk. This also provides an alternative to creating a bootable USB flash drive for MacOS installers.
This one tutorial go through the steps to create a MacOS installer ISO file.
In this particular walkthrough, we will convert a macOS Mojave installer to an ISO file. You can use the same steps to create an ISO file from practically any other macOS installer with createinstallmedia present, including building a macOS Catalina ISO or for Big Sur, High Sierra, and Sierra, simply by replacing the filenames where required.
How to Create a macOS Mojave ISO or Catalina ISO file from an installer
This process requires an installer for macOS and turns it into an ISO file that can be booted or used like a typical disk image file.
- First, download the macOS Mojave installer or the macOS Catalina installer (or whatever installer you want to turn into an ISO) from the Mac App Store
- When the “Install MacOS Mojave.app” or “Install MacOS Catalina.app” application is fully downloaded and is in the / Applications folder, continue
- Then open the Terminal application
- Create a buy in DMG file and issue the following command:
- Mount the created DMG disk image as follows:
- Next, we use createinstallmedia to create the macOS installation application on the mounted volume:
- When createinstallmedia is finished, you can unmount the volume you just created:
- Now we convert the DMG disc image file to an ISO disc image file (technically a CDR file, but it’s the same as an ISO)
- Finally, we rename the CDR file extension to ISO to convert the CDR to ISO:
hdiutil create -o / tmp / Mojave -size 8500m -full name Mojave -layout SPUD -fs HFS + J
hdiutil attach /tmp/Mojave.dmg -noverify -mountpoint / Volumes / Mojave
sudo / Applications / Install macOS Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume / Volumes / Mojave –nointeraction
hdiutil detach / volumes / Install macOS Mojave
hdiutil convert /tmp/Mojave.dmg format UDTO -o ~ / Desktop / Mojave.cdr
mv ~ / Desktop / Mojave.cdr ~ / Desktop / Mojave.iso
That’s it, now you should have a “Mojave.iso” disk image file on the Mac desktop, which is the macOS installer ISO image.
If you plan to use the ISO file for a virtual machine, you just need to select the Mojave.iso disk image in the virtual machine app as the boot disk, or mount it in the VM like any other disk image would to be. You can also convert ISO files to VDI VirtualBox images if needed.
ISO files are flexible and widely used, they can also be burned to create boot discs and to other media, and you can also copy the ISO to a USB drive using dd or perform any other multitude of actions.
Whether creating an ISO file for the macOS installer and using that ISO is easier than using a bootable USB stick is entirely a matter of use, and in some situations an ISO is the only usable format ( i.e. for certain virtualization scenarios).
Did you manage to create an ISO file from a macOS installer? Do you have a different approach to create an ISO file for macOS installers? Let us know in the comments below.
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