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Two More Ways to Create an OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB Drive

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This post is part of a series called OS X Mavericks.
Quick Tip: Install OS X Mavericks on a USB Drive
Getting the Most From Maps in OS X Mavericks

OS X Mavericks 10.9 is the latest iteration of Apple’s desktop computer operating system, released to great fanfare at Apple’s Special Event on 22nd October 2013.

Mavericks is distrubuted through Apple’s Mac App Store and is a digital download of 5.29GB. If you have a superfast fibre connection then this may be of little concern. Even a fast ADSL connection and the upgrade can be downloaded reasonably quickly. If you are on a slower internet connection, then this distribution model is not suiting you.

In this tutorial, I will show you two ways to install OS X Mavericks onto a bootable USB drive. This is particularly useful if you have two or more Macs to upgrade as it means you only have to download the software once.


Cost

Where Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion cost £25, £20.99 and £13.99, respectively, OS X Mavericks has been made available at zero cost to Mac owners.


What You Will Need

Before you get started, you will need to gather together the following:

  • A USB drive of 8GB or more, or
  • A USB external hard drive, or
  • A Firewire external hard drive, or
  • A Thunderbolt external hard drive, or
  • An SD card of 8GB or more
  • A Mac running OS X 10.7 Lion or later
  • Confidence in using Terminal, or
  • A copy of DiskMaker X

Locate the Mavericks Installer

Open a Finder window and navigate to Applications > Install OS X Mavericks. If you do not have the Install OS X Mavericks app in the Applications folder – possibly because you have already upgraded to Mavericks – you will need to follow the instructions to redownload OS X Mavericks.

Provided that you have located the Install OS X Mavericks app in the Applications folder, you can move on to creating your USB drive with either the command line method or the automated app method.

Locating the Mavericks installer In Finder
Locating the Mavericks installer In Finder

Redownload OS X Mavericks

The Mavericks installer application is automatically erased after upgrading a Mac to Mavericks, therefore the best time to create your bootable Mavericks USB drive is after downloading Mavericks from the Mac App Store and before installing it.

If you have already upgraded to Mavericks and subsequently wish to create your bootable USB installer, simply open the Mac App Store, click on the Purchases tab, locate OS X Mavericks and click the Download button.

You will be advised that Mavericks is already installed on your Mac.

Redownloading OS X Mavericks
Redownloading OS X Mavericks on a Mac that is already running Mavericks

Command Line Method

Step 1. Erase USB Drive

Insert your USB drive, open Disk Utility, select your USB Drive click the Erase tab then click the Erase button. This will erase all of the contents of your USB drive and it will be titled Untitled.

Erase your USB drive
Erase your USB drive using Disk Utility

Step 2. Open Terminal

This method is straightforward and does not require the downloading of additional apps. Ideal if you are the sort of person who only installs the apps that you really need for your workflow.

Tip: If you in anyway unsure about entering commands into Terminal, or if you have fat fingers and an inability to concentrate, then perhaps look to the automated app method. Entering incorrect commands into Terminal may have catastrophic consequences.

Provided that you are competent and confident with Terminal, or at least able follow instructions accurately, then the command line approach works well.

Step 3. Enter Terminal Command

Assuming that you have already confirmed that you have a copy of the installer app, located at Applications > Install OS X Mavericks, and you have inserted a blank USB drive called Untitled, open up a Terminal window and 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

If your USB drive is named Untitled, then you may copy and paste the text, above, into Terminal. Double check everything is correct before you proceed, though.

Entering the Terminal instruction
Entering the command in Terminal

Tip: To launch terminal quickly and easily, simply press Command Spacebar to open the Spotlight search window and then type Terminal. If you use Alfred, you can press Option Spacebar followed by Terminal.

Step 4. Create USB Drive

This process can take some time. For example, it took around 40 minutes to complete on my mid–2012 MacBook Pro copying to a USB 2.0 drive. Admittedly, this could be quicker had I used a USB 3.0 drive.

Using Terminal to create the USB installer drive
Using Terminal to create the USB installer drive

Step 4. Remove USB Drive

When the process has finished, be sure to eject the USB drive before removing it from your Mac.

You have now created a bootable OS X Mavericks drive that will enable you to upgrade existing Macs, or clean install Mavericks onto Macs without the need to download 5.29GB of data onto each Mac.


Automated App Method

If the thought of having to use Terminal fills you with fear and loathing, whatever your location, then the automated method, using and app, is going to be easier for you.

Step 1. Erase USB Drive

Insert your USB drive, open Disk Utility, select your USB Drive click the Erase tab then click the Erase button. This will erase all of the contents of your USB drive and it will be titled Untitled.

Erase your USB drive
Erase your USB drive using Disk Utility

Step 2. Download DiskMaker X

Visit the DiskMaker X website to download the DiskMaker X application, a 4.5MB download. DiskMaker X is donationware, so if you use this method please consider making a donation to the developer to show your appreciation.

DiskMaker X installation
DiskMaker X installation

Step 3. Launch DiskMaker X

Launch the DiskMaker X utility and follow the instructions ensuring that you choose your blank USB drive as the destination.

DiskMaker X process
DiskMaker X process
DiskMaker X process
DiskMaker X process
DiskMaker X process
DiskMaker X process

Step 4. Create USB Drive

This process can take some time. For example, it took around 15 minutes to complete on my mid–2012 MacBook Pro copying to a USB 2.0 drive. Admittedly, this could be quicker had I used a USB 3.0 drive.

DiskMaker X process
Creating the USB drive using DiskMaker X

Step 5. Remove USB Drive

When the process has finished, be sure to eject the USB drive before removing it from your Mac.

You have now created a bootable OS X Mavericks drive that will enable you to upgrade existing Macs, or clean install Mavericks onto Macs without the need to download 5.29GB of data onto each Mac.

DiskMaker X completion confirmation
DiskMaker X completion confirmation
DiskMaker X USB drive
The DiskMaker X USB drive

Conclusion

Creating an OS X Mavericks installer USB drive is a straightforward process if you know how to do it.

In this tutorial, I have shown you two more methods – one via command line and one via an application – that allow you to easily create a USB drive that you can use as a backup drive and as a drive to install OS X Mavericks onto more than one Mac whilst requiring only one download from the Mac App Store.

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