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Create an OS Mavericks Installer Drive on 4 Simple Steps

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OS X Mavericks is now free to download for anyone, and while you can update as many Macs as you want by repeatedly downloading the installer from the Mac App Store, a better option for many is to have an easy bootable USB installation drive. We discussed this some time ago using a fairly technical process, but Apple must have realized that the method was too complex for many users and added a much simpler method to create OS X Mavericks installation media. Users will still have to go to the Terminal to get the job done, but this time only one command needs to be run, which makes it much easier and faster than the manual approach. We will show you exactly how to create a Mavericks boot installer in four easy steps, even if you have no command line experience, you can do it.

Conditions as these are standard, you need the free OS X Mavericks installer on a Mac and an 8GB external drive or more that you don’t mind being formatted. External hard drives work, as do volumes from USB flash drives and Thunderbolt drives.

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 already have it installed. If you use this guide for a re-downloaded version of Mavericks just go straight to step # 3.

2: Stop when you see this screen

When Mavericks has finished downloading, you will see the screen below to start the installation – stop – and don’t go any further if you want to create a USB installation drive.

OS X Mavericks installation screen

3: Connect the external drive

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

NOTE: You may want to preformat the external drive with a bootable GUID partition table to ensure it can boot. This is not always necessary depending on how the drive was originally formatted, but if you find that the drive cannot be booted, this is probably why.

  • Open Disk Utility and select the newly connected external drive
  • Choose the “Partition” tab, select “1 Partition” from the Partition Layout menu, then click “Options” and choose “GUID Partition Table” then “OK”
  • Choose “Apply”

This may or may not be optional depending on whether the external drive is preformatted with a GUID partition or not. If in doubt, do it anyway.

Create a Mavericks installation drive with a USB flash disk

4: Run Terminal to install the Mavericks media

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

sudo / Applications / OS X Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume / Volumes / Untitled –applicationpath / Applications / OS X Mavericks.app install – no interaction

Make sure the entire command string is on one line. You need to replace “Untitled” in the volume path with the name of your external drive that you want to change in the installation disc. This name must exactly match the name of the external USB stick. The Terminal will wrap text so that it can look something like this, make sure no extra spaces are added and no extra line breaks in the text, otherwise the command will fail:

Terminal command to create an OS X Mavericks installer

If the command fails, check the syntax of your command. It must be entered accurately with no extra characters, spaces, or breaks to function as intended. Only change the command by specifying the volume name.

Since the command uses sudo, you will need to enter the Mac admin password to continue the process, keep in mind that when you type admin passwords in the command line using sudo or su, the password text will not be displayed and nothing will appear typed, that’s a certainty feature, just type the password as usual and hit return.

Once run, you will see a progress indicator in the terminal that looks like this, the whole creation process is automated but it can take a while so it’s best to stay alone for a while until you get the final ‘Done’ text.

Erase disc: 0% … 10% … 20% … 30% … 100% … Copy installation files to disc … Copy completed. Make disk bootable … Copy startup files … Copy complete. Done.

Exit Terminal and return to the Finder to confirm that the OS X Mavericks installation drive has been created. You will see it in the Finder (or desktop) labeled “Install OS X Mavericks” and the volume contains a single installer app.

The OS X Mavericks installer

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

For what it’s worth, the original USB creation method will continue 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 is also bootable, meaning it can be used for upgrades from previous 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 completely new installations. Regardless of the Mac being installed on, it is a good idea to prepare the Mac for the 10.9 upgrade by cleaning it up a bit and support up the data.

Boot from the Mavericks Install Drive

Booting a Mac from the newly created Mavericks installation drive is easy:

  • Plug in the Mavericks installer and restart the Mac
  • Hold down the Option key during boot to bring up the boot disk menu
  • Select the Install OS X Mavericks media to boot from the installation volume, if it is a USB drive it will have an orange icon

Boot from the Mavericks installer

This boots directly into the Mavericks installer, where you can upgrade or reinstall OS X. Installation is almost fully automated once you have selected the volume and the total installation time is usually around 35 minutes to 1 hour, although 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 everyone else who made this great trick via email, Google+ and Twitter also. Enjoy Mavericks!

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The time to complete the Create an OS X Mavericks Installer Drive in 4 Simple Steps tutorial is 10+ minutes.

What are the supported Device?

Apple

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mac OS


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