How to: Create a bootable installation for OS X Mavericks 10.9 and above

UPDATE: With the release version of OS X Mavericks there is now a much easier way to create a bootable installer. Simply follow these steps.

1) Download Mavericks from the Mac App Store but do not click install. If you install then after it upgrades your machine the installer will be automatically deleted.

2) Insert a USB flash drive and use Disk Utility to format it, name it ‘Untitled’. The installer takes over 4GB so you’ll need at least an 8GB drive.

3) Open terminal and run the following command…

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ --nointeraction

4) You’ll see some output in Terminal letting you know it’s copying files. When that’s done your USB will be ready with the bootable installer.

  • Cesar

    Excellent, thanks for the tutorial, works for me!!!

  • Smittee

    Best guide I could find on installing Mavericks, very concise and worked flawlessly.

  • Nick

    My installation holds up after I tell it which drive to install Mavericks on. It opens a little window that says “Connecting to app store…” and never goes past that. Any suggestions?

  • muhalo

    Well, plain and simple. Thank you on behalf of me and my two mates 🙂

  • BT

    Rather ‘chflags’ than ‘defaults’

  • Thanks ! This method works flawlessly.

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  • Tried inside vmware fusion, but no joy. When starting from the new disk with maverick, it just spin endlessly after showing the apple logo but does not boot.

    • marek

      I think that might be because Mavericks doesn’t run inside virtual machines. I might be wrong though. Has anyone else tried installing inside Fusion or Parallels?

      • Well, no clue. I think I had read someone onto vmware forum who managed to update a Mountain Lion image, but I did not manage to do the same, as yet. Today I will try with another image and following your tutorial with an USB disk, then I will try to build the image from that, this way I guess I will spot wether it’s an issue related to the image I’ve got or vmware’s. Thank you.

        • I came across this:

          Trying it now, when I first tried the first line returned:
          hdiutil: convert failed – No such file or directory

          but I’ve copied the installer to Apps like normal, renamed the conflicting InstallESD.dmg and am trying again, so maybe it was just not liking the directory didn’t already exist.

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  • Bjornagain

    I have made 3 different installation sticks via differing methods and in every case I have to use the netkas IOPCIFamily.kext. Used on its own it creats a kp with backtrace every time… I therefore have to use it with a modeded AppleACPIPlatform.kext for the installer to ever get past the PCI COnfiguration Begin lockup! This has been the case since Lion,,,

    With Mountain Lion there were no issues but with Mavericks DP1… NONE of my volumes show up – therefore I have nothing to install to? I tried to partition my 32Gb USB Stick (the partition does show up) BUT… The installer fails with a minute to go,,, and The result is not bootable!

    Anyone else run into this issue? … any fix to get my drives back? They only disappear with Maverick installer. It’s like they get dropped when loading it!

    • Sampledi

      After replacing those two kexts on my Supermicro motherboard I have the same issue – HDDs are gone.
      Luckily I have installed Mavericks on USB drive, so I can still play with it, but we definitely need update for IOPCIfamily and ACPIPlatform.

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  • Sidharth

    I keep getting error – Invalid Argument, when I try restoring BaseSystem.dmg to the flash drive. Any idea why this is happening?

  • TheDaleks

    There’s an important step left out of these otherwise excellent instructions: before doing anything with the USB drive, you have to go into Disk Utility and partition it. Create two partitions, and click the Options button to set each partition to GUID (click one partition, then do this, then click the other partition and do this again). Both partitions should be bootable. It’s probably a good idea to make one of the partitions small (about 5 gb) and use the remainder of the capacity for the other one. I called the smaller one “Installer”.

    Then when you get to step 6 and do the restore, restore to the Installer partition. When you reboot, boot to the Installer disk, and when it asks where to install OS X, choose the second partition you created.

    If you don’t create two partitions on your USB drive, when you restart at the end of these steps, the installation routine won’t be able to set up Mavericks on the USB drive. It will probably offer to install only on the existing hard drive.

  • satadru

    Here’s one way to create an ISO file from your OS X Mavericks Installation Files:

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  • mmaus

    the ‘packages’ alis won’t delete because it is read-only.
    Any suggestions?

    • marek

      In the release version it’s actually much easier to create an installer as it contains a command to do it right inside the installer. I’ve updated the guide with these much easier instructions.

  • Jack

    It doesn’t work for me—after entering my password Terminal tells me:
    "Failed to start erase of disk due to error (-9999, 0).
    A error occurred erasing the disk."

    Any ideas?

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  • Greg

    Will you be able to install Mavericks on a hard drive from the Live USB? Similar to you can install an Ubuntu to a hard drove from a Live Ubuntu USB.

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  • Crelridge

    Unbelievable. I specified a folder instead and it erased my entire hard disc drive. Could you not *mention* that it erases the drive even though you list that as a separate instruction for me to do?!
    No doubt you will blame me for not blindly following the instructions. I blame the script for blithely erasing something other than what was specified as the target; the programmer would have had to expressly ignore the folder part of what I specified.

    That *was* my *backup volume*!

    Second attempt… and now it has chosen to format a hard disc partition called “Untitled”, in preference to a USB stick called “Untitled”.

    Yes, again, I should have been more careful. But, again, the programmer should have been more careful.

    That’s about 3 months’ work wiped out.


    • SlothGod

      Speechless yet speaks quite a bit about it