How to Create a Bootable macOS Sierra Thumb Drive

Has your mac run into some kind of problem because of which you need to reinstall macOS Sierra? I’m sure you find it inconvenient to wait for macOS to download a fresh copy of macOS Sierra. Right? This is especially true if the country your country’s internet isn’t awesome. Sometimes, it is just easier to boot from a USB drive and perform a clean install. It definitely will help to have a bootable macOS Sierra thumb drive.

I’m sure many of you have noticed that the macOS Sierra installer app disappears after you install it. That means, every time you want to perform a clean install, you’ll need to re-download it. That is the reason many people like to keep a bootable drive ready. It is also useful if you need to install the macOS onto many devices.

This article is a step-by-step guide on how to create a bootable macOS Sierra thumb drive. Let’s begin. These are things that are necessary for you to create a bootable macOS Sierra thumb drive.

  • USB thumb drive or flash drive (8GB or more): It is important that your USB drive is 8GB or more in capacity.
  • macOS Sierra Installer: You can download the installer from the Mac App Store. Remember that this needs to be the final public release and not the beta release. Also, remember to check if your installer is in the /Applications folder. If it isn’t, then you should move it to the /Applications folder.

Creating the Bootable macOS Sierra Thumb Drive

Step 1: Before we begin creating a bootable drive, we need to format the thumb drive. To do that, plug-in your thumb drive in the USB port in your Mac. Open the ‘Disk Utility’ app. You can find it in /Applications/Utilities. Or, you can use Spotlight Search to open ‘Disk Utility’.
bootable macOS Sierra

Step 2: Once you’ve opened the ‘Disk Utility’ app, click on the name of your external drive in the left pane. Once you’ve done that go ahead and click on the button that reads ‘Erase’ in the menu bar within the app window. This should bring up a dialogue box, which looks like in the image below. In that dialogue box, rename your thumb drive to whatever name you wish. I have named it macOS just to keep it simple. Remember, this name will remain the same in the terminal command as well. Once you’ve typed the name, click on the ‘Erase’ button at the bottom of the dialogue box.
macOS Sierra

Step 3: Once the drive has been erased, you will see a dialogue box like the one in the image below. Go ahead and click on ‘done’. After that, you can close the ‘Disk Utility’ app, by clicking on the cross in the top left corner. Congratulations! You’ve completed the first part.
bootable macOS installer

Step 4: Now for the second part; now, you need to open the Terminal app. You can do that by going to /Applications/Utilities and clicking on the Terminal.app. Or you can use Spotlight Search to open the Terminal app.

Step 5: In the terminal window, type the following command

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/macOS –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app

and press enter. The terminal app may ask for your password for your password, like in the image below. If that happens, then go ahead and type out your password. Remember that characters aren’t displayed when you type your password.
Sierra macOS

After you type in your password and hit enter, the Terminal will ask you to confirm. All you need to do is type the letter ‘y’ and hit enter once again.
macOS bootable installer

After you confirm, the command will begin executing. The terminal will copy your installer files to the destination drive.
bootable macOS

This whole process may take upto 30 mins. Once the Terminal finishes copying all the files over, your thumb drive is ready for use. Your thumb drive is now bootable macOS Sierra. You can now close the terminal window, cause you’re all done!

macOS bootable flash drive

To use this, you need to plug it in and restart your Mac. When you hear the startup chime, hold down the ‘Option’ key to boot from your bootable thumb drive. From there, follow the on-screen instructions to perform a clean install.

If you want to read about the 7 coolest features in the new macOS Sierra, click here.

That’s how easy it is to create your bootable macOS Sierra thumb drive. I have included a video of the whole process, so that it is easy for you to understand.

Oh, and if you like this article, let me know in the comments below 🙂

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