Install Mac OS Lion Using Target Disk Mode

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Another method to install Mac OS X Lion on other personal computers is to use Target Disk Mode. This allows you to use one Mac as an installation drive to install OS X 10.7 directly on another Mac via Firewire or Thunderbolt. This is fast, prevents re-downloading which saves bandwidth, and works flawlessly. This tip was submitted by Randy, so a big thank you to him for the tip and accompanying screenshots.

Quick note: I personally find it easier to install a Lion USB drive or even a home- created Lion installation DVD, if you have access to USB key or DVD burner, those are my recommended methods. However, that’s not feasible for everyone, so this article will show you exactly how you would install OS X Lion on another Mac using Target Disk Mode only.

Conditions:Before you begin, make sure you have the following.

  • At least two Macs – one to serve as the installer and the receiving Mac that Lion will be installed on
  • All Macs must have FireWire and / or ThunderBolt and support Target Disk Mode, as well as the included cable to connect two Macs directly:
    • FireWire to FireWire cable
    • Thunderbolt cable
  • Mac OS X Lion downloaded from the Mac App Store on one of the Macs
  • At least 4 GB of free disk space to create an installation partition

Confirm that you have all the requirements, and let’s start with partitioning a hard drive so it can serve as a Lion installer for other local Macs.

How to Install Mac OS X 10.7 Lion with Target Disk Mode

Important: This technique changes the partition table of a hard drive. In general, nothing should go wrong, but it is always wise to have a recent backupup of your hard drive before making changes to disk partitions.

The first part of this walkthrough will look familiar to anyone who has read our Lion installation guides By using a bootable USB drive or creating a bootable installation DVD, find and locate the InstallESD.dmg file:

  • Locate “Install Mac OS X Lion.app” in your / Applications folder, right click and select “Show Package Contents”
  • Open “Content” and then “SharedSupport”
  • Double-click InstallESD.dmg to mount the image
  • Now run “Disk Utility” in / Applications / Utilities /
  • Select the hard drive on which you want to create a boot partition and then click on “Partition”
  • Click the plus icon to create a new partition, name it “Mac OS X Install ESD” to match the attached Lion dmg

Create a Lion installation partition for use in target disk mode

  • Note: As an alternative to the following, you can restore the mounted DMG to the newly created partition.
  • Now we need to show hidden files in Mac OS X Finder, you can do this with the following two commands:
  • defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE Now you need to restart the Finder for the changes to take effect with the following commandkillall Finder

  • Now back in the Mac OS X finder, open the previously mounted Lion installation DMG and you will see all the files like this:

Lion installation image

  • Select everything except .DS_Store and copy all files to the partition you created earlier – retrieving all files is necessary therefore enabling hidden file support is important
  • Have all files copied to the disk partition

Now the Mac OS X Install ESD partition is ready for use by other Macs through Target Disk Mode.

On the Mac with the OS X Lion installation partition:

  • Open System Preferences and click on “Startup Disk”
  • Click “Target Disk Mode” to reboot the Mac in Target Disk Mode, ready to be used as another Mac hard drive

Once the Installer Mac is in Target Disk Mode, connect it to the other Mac via Firewire or ThunderBolt and do the following:

On the Mac where you want to install Mac OS X Lion with Target Disk Mode

  • Open ‘System Preferences’ and click on ‘Startup Disk’
  • Select the Installer Macs partition named “Mac OS X Install ESD” as your boot disk and reboot

Install Lion from Target Disk Mode

The receiving Mac will now boot from the Mac OS X Lion installation partition via Target Disk Mode (TDM). TDM is very fast thanks to FireWire and ThunderBolt speeds and this is probably the fastest way to install Lion on another Mac without simply downloading it again from the App Store.

Finally, for those wondering what licensing is, Apple has said that one purchase of Lion can be installed on all of your personal Macs, so as long as you use this method of installing Lion on just another Mac you own, you’ll be fine good.

Thanks again to Randy for the wonderful tip!

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How to Install Mac OS X Lion Using Target Disk Mode: FAQ

Tutorial Summary: How to Install Mac OS X Lion Using Target Disk Mode

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How this tutorial helping you?

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What is actual time in which this method complete?

The time to complete the How to Install Mac OS X Lion Using Target Disk Mode tutorial is 10+ minutes.

What are the supported Device?

Apple

What are the supported Operating system?

mac OS


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