Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer

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Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Fla...


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Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash DriveMac OS X, Tips & Tricks - July 8th, 2011 - 186 Comments

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Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Fla...

Im going to walk through the process of making a bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion installation drive out of any USB ash drive key. This is similar to the process of making a bootable Lion installer DVD, but I prefer a USB ash drive because its faster, smaller, and I have a MacBook Air so an installation DVD isnt too useful for me. This is pretty easy to do, but I have made the walkthrough as simple as possible with plenty of screenshots, so just follow along the instructions. Requirements: A Mac with Mac OS X 10.6.8 so you can download and access Lion 8GB+ USB ash key drive, these are cheap and ubiquitous on Download Mac OS X Lion from the Mac App Store ($29.99) Got all that? Good, lets proceed.

How to Create a Bootable Mac OS X Lion Installation USB DriveWere going to assume you already have Mac OS X Lion downloaded from the App Store, if you dont, do that rst. If you have anything stored on the USB ash drive youre going to lose it, so be prepared for that and back it up. First we are going to locate the Lion InstallESD.dmg le and mount it: Navigate to your applications folder Right-click (or control-click) on the Install Mac OS X and select Show Package Contents Open the Contents directory and then go into SharedSupport

Double-click on InstallESD.dmg to mount the Lion disk image onto your Mac desktop, it will show up like the image below

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Posted by: AJ

Related articles:Ofcial Mac OS X Lion USB Install Media Now Available from AppleCare OS X Lion USB Thumb Drive Now on Sale from Apple for $69, Cheaper to Do It Yourself Re-Download Mac OS X Lion from the App Store Lion Recovery Disk Assistant Tool Makes External Lion Boot Recovery Drives

186 Comments Comments RSS Feed

Joseph says:July 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Can I do this for Snow Leopard instead?Reply

Angga says:July 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Yes you can, Ive been doing this method since Snow Leopard.Reply

Andrey says:July 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Can you burn me a copy of (both) Snow Leopard and Lion? Im about to get a Mac soon and I cant afford both for Parallels Desktop. Why do I need Snow Lepoard? Snow leopard for Lions Parallel Desktop (in case if I wont like Lion)Reply

AJ says:July 8, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Youre in luck because new Macs get Lion for free.Reply

d0ta2008 says:July 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Dude its $30, if you can buy a Mac you can spend $30 to buy the OS. Dont be a turd.Reply

Dan says:July 20, 2011 at 11:16 am

Skip Parallels and get VirtualBox, its free and works great.Reply

AJ says:July 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Yup, you can do this with all versions of OS X as long as you have a dmg to restore from.

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PsychoX says:July 9, 2011 at 7:29 am

You would need a larger ashdrive however, I believe at least an 8gb.Reply

Ho says:August 24, 2011 at 8:44 am

you can also partition a 32 GB USB stick into 4 parts and make each a bootable partition. Just be sure you use Journaled and GUID partition tableReply

David B. Haun says:July 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm

What Partition Map did you use?Reply

Strawberry says:July 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

GUID is what you should use for any partition you want to be bootable (Intel) but I think it will just completely wipe the space and install it from the disk image.Reply

Brian says:July 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Did this work on the Gold Master that was released last week since it was suppose to be the last update to OSX Lion before they let us download next week. Hopefully!Reply

AJ says:July 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Yes, this guide was written using Lion GM from the App StoreReply

Yousif Anwar says:July 10, 2011 at 8:40 am

Hi there, I cant nd the SharedSupport folder in GM, help please!Reply

M says:July 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Right-click on Install Mac OS X > Show Package Contents > Contents > SharedSupportReply

Tricky Business says:July 21, 2011 at 10:41 am

Is it perhaps possible that the installer / installESD.dmg was deleted after installation? Ive searched my disk but i cant nd the le in question?!

tokyojerry says:July 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Alternatively you can use an inexpensive 8 or 16GB SD or MicroSD card to do the same thing. Just choose the SD card in lieu of the USB drive stick in the instructions here and follow accordingly. I usually buy / use only memory cards these days because they have performance ratings (i.e., Class 2, 4, 6, 10) and you know the quality of speed performance you are getting. With a USB stick. you usually dont have a clue as to the quality and speed of the memory incorporated into the stick. The SD memory card can be used in a cheap SD to USB converter adaptor, thus, becoming a USB stick if that is preferred. (i.e., 13

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Macbook Airs have SD slots whereas the smaller one does not. The SD memory card then has greater utility. It can be used as a USB stick, it can be used in a camera, and if MicroSD then in mobile phones in the case a phone supports MicroSD. And, knowing that I have a class 6 or class 10 SD card, I also have the reassurance I can capture HD video on the camera without any problems when used to capture HD video. Just an alternative idea.Reply

BP says:July 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Great tip man. I liked the one on the DVD and this is even better.Reply

AJ says:July 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Thanks! Glad to hear it.Reply

haymoose says:July 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm

I have done this for Snow Leopard. If you are impatient and live near best buy, I use the EasyStore 4 GB USB drive, it is very low prole, not as thin as the Apple unit, but nice and cased in metal! $7.99 where I live: /2023439.p?id=1218305995143Reply

Brian says:July 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm

How do you do it for Snow Leopard on a USB Drive?Reply

AJ says:July 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

The same way as this guide, however you can just clone directly from the Snow Leopard DVD to a USB drive using Disk Utility or a third party utility like Carbon Copy Cloner.Reply

Marcus says:July 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Partitioning an external USB hard drive (Firewire and Thunderbolt too) and restoring the Lion.dmg to that partition works as well.Reply

wdf says:July 9, 2011 at 1:14 am


Josh says:July 9, 2011 at 6:17 am

A much easier way to do this is by using Carbon Copy Cloner. 1. Mount the InstallESB.dmg le. 2. Plug in the USB drive; format it to HFS+ Journaled with Disk Utility 3. Open Carbon Copy Cloner and select the InstallESB mount as the source and the USB mount as the destination. 10x easier and always works!Reply

Carl says:July 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

As in, exactly as many steps as above? Just because he spelled it out, doesnt mean its slower than CCC. Herere your directions reworked using the above:

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1. Mount the InstallESB.dmg le. 2. Plug in the USB drive; format it to HFS+ Journaled with Disk Utility 3. Select restore in Disk Itility and select the InstallESB mount as the source and the USB mount as the destination. Just as easy* and always works! *Your method is actually harder because it requires downloading and/or opening CCC.Reply

Rue says:August 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

But your way doesnt work for 4GB USB drives. Please try it rst and respond back.Reply

OS X 10.7 Lion Bootable USB says:July 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

[...] : Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive, [...]Reply

PsychoX says:July 9, 2011 at 10:33 am

When I did my Snow Leopard upgrade I had a separate partition on the same hard drive setup as a bootable disk. It worked perfectly and I was able to keep all my existing les.Reply

David B. Haun says:July 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

The image needs to be scanned rst.Reply

AJ says:July 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I skipped that process, but yes the default behavior is to scan and verify the image.Reply

Install OSX Lion on more than one computer Apple Life says:July 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm

[...] out this post on OS X Daily, it covers exactly how to do this. Related Posts:Mac OSX 10.7 Lion Preview [...]Reply

Cam says:July 11, 2011 at 4:21 am

Is this bootable Lion image something that you can use as an emergency repair disk by adding things like DiskWarrior and TechTools Pro (when they are lion certied)? Or is this bootable image only capable of booting and installing Lion? On the same topic, if my assumption is incorrect, would my solution be to wait for DasBoot to be lion certied or to install of SL on a new partition, put on lion, slim it all down, and clone it to a thumb drive?Reply

Nick says:July 11, 2011 at 7:16 am

This works well, only the Recovery Partition is not created this way (this makes it impossible to use FileVault 2 for example) Youll have to reinstall over the Lion installation with the ofcial InstallerReply

Stef says:July 25, 2011 at 4:50 am

I am looking to install lion as a fresh install , one of the main reasons is levault 2. What happens when i

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reinstall over the top how does that work? does that mean its no longer a clean install? Appreciate the time for the reply.Reply

dvkch says:July 11, 2011 at 10:01 am

Just a lil question : why is there some way to connect to a wireless network in your EFI ? is that available on new iMacs or what ? ThxReply

Kapilan says:July 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm

This is an option on MacBook Airs. It was done because these machines dont have a cd drive. U can install apps wirelessly using another computers cd drive as well.Reply

dvkch says:July 17, 2011 at 7:26 am

Thanks ! Never heard about it, pretty useful information indeed !Reply

jeremy says:August 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

its actually used so that you may connect to a wireless network and then net-boot. This is usually used for connecting to a server and/or remote imaging of your computerits not for installing apps. You can use another macs disc drive over the network, but that is done from within the OS.the screen shown above is at the rmware OS.Reply

Hvard says:July 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hi. Do I have to do this BEFORE i install Lion on my Mac?Reply

OSXDaily says:July 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

No, absolutely not. This is for people who want to create their own bootable USB install drive.Reply

mark says:July 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Hi there, I just installed lion from the app store on my air, but now cannot nd that lion install dmg in the applications folder. Is it a hidden le? Spotlight cant nd it for me eitherReply

Bubba says:July 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Yes, you have to do this BEFORE you install Lion. The last thing the installer does is DELETE the installer. You wont be able to nd the InstallESD.dmg after you install because it doesnt exist anymore after you nish the install.Reply

Carl says:July 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Only partly true. Yes, Lion deletes the installer when nished, but you can always option-click Purchases and then option-click the Lion installer to download it again. Not ideal, but a helpful option if youve come to this tutorial post-install.Reply

Nicholas says:July 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

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Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Fla...

If you have the foresight to let Time Machine perform a full backup of your Mac before running the Lion installer (but after it has downloaded from the App Store) then you can skip re-downloading the 4Gb le. Just go to Time Machine, visit your Applications folder, nd the TM backup with the Lion installer (Install Mac OS X Lion) and restore it. Ta-da!Reply

How to install Lion without the AppStore MacMessiah says:July 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

[...] Here is a great article on how to install Lion if you do not want to download it on every mac in your house or business from the AppStore. [...]Reply

Mike says:July 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Followed your instruction and it worked like a charm. BTW, I used a usb hdd instead of the stick. Thanx a lot.Reply

Curious says:July 13, 2011 at 12:37 am

Is it possible to use this method and do it to an External Hard Drive as well? Is it also possible to do this method and use it as a Hackintosh?Reply

How to Install Mac OS X Lion Using Target Disk Mode says:July 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm

[...] note: Personally I nd it easier to create and use a Lion ins...