Step-by-Step Guide: How to Boot Mac from USB

How to Boot Mac from USB Step-by-Step Guide

How to Boot Mac from USB Step-by-Step Guide

Booting a Mac from an external drive, such as a USB, can be a useful way to start up your computer for various purposes, such as troubleshooting, data recovery, or performing a clean installation of the operating system. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating a bootable USB drive and booting your Mac from it.

Step 1: Prepare the USB Drive

The first step is to prepare the USB drive to make it bootable. Make sure to back up any important data on the drive, as the process will erase all existing data. Connect the USB drive to your Mac and open Disk Utility. Select the USB drive from the list of available drives, and click on the “Erase” tab. Choose a format compatible with Mac, such as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”, and click “Erase” to format the drive.

Step 2: Create a Bootable USB Drive

Once the USB drive is formatted, you will need to create a bootable installation for your Mac. Download the macOS installation file from the App Store or the official Apple website. Open Terminal and enter the following command: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ [Version].app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/[USB Drive Name] –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ [Version].app. Replace “[Version]” with the appropriate macOS version and “[USB Drive Name]” with the name of your USB drive.

Step 3: Boot Mac from USB

With the bootable USB drive ready, you can now boot your Mac from it. Restart your Mac and hold down the “Option” key while it boots up. You will see a list of available startup disks. Select the USB drive and click “Enter” to start booting from it. Your Mac will then start up from the USB drive, allowing you to perform the desired actions, such as troubleshooting or installing a fresh copy of macOS.

Conclusion

Booting a Mac from a USB drive can be a valuable skill to have, as it gives you the flexibility to perform various tasks on your computer. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily create a bootable USB drive and boot your Mac from it. Remember to always back up your data before proceeding with any modifications to your system.

Preparing the USB Drive

Before you can boot your Mac from a USB drive, you need to prepare the drive to make it bootable. Follow these steps to prepare your USB drive:

  1. Insert the USB drive into your Mac.
  2. Open the Disk Utility application. You can find it by going to “Applications” > “Utilities” > “Disk Utility”.
  3. In the Disk Utility window, select the USB drive from the list of available drives on the left side.
  4. Click on the “Erase” tab at the top of the window.
  5. Choose a name for your USB drive and select the format as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”.
  6. Click on the “Erase” button to format the USB drive.
  7. Once the formatting process is complete, click on the “Done” button.

Now that your USB drive is formatted correctly, you can proceed with creating a bootable USB drive for your Mac.

Format the USB Drive

Before you can create a bootable USB drive to start up your Mac from, you need to format the USB drive correctly. Follow these steps to format the USB drive:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac: Plug in the external USB drive to your Mac’s USB port.
  2. Open Disk Utility: Go to the Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder, and launch Disk Utility.
  3. Select the USB drive: In the Disk Utility window, locate the USB drive from the list of drives on the left-hand side.
  4. Erase the USB drive: Click on the “Erase” button at the top of the Disk Utility window. A dialog box will appear.
  5. Choose the format: In the dialog box, select the appropriate format for the USB drive. For creating a bootable USB drive for a Mac, choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”.
  6. Provide a name for the USB drive: Enter a descriptive name for the USB drive in the “Name” field.
  7. Click on the “Erase” button: Once you have selected the format and provided a name, click on the “Erase” button to format the USB drive.
  8. Wait for the formatting process to complete: Disk Utility will format the USB drive and display a progress bar. Wait for the process to complete.
  9. Close Disk Utility: Once the formatting is finished, you can close the Disk Utility window.
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Now that you have formatted the USB drive correctly, you can proceed to create a bootable USB drive for your Mac.

Create a Bootable USB Drive

To boot your Mac from a USB drive, you will need to create a bootable USB drive first. This will allow you to start up your Mac from the USB drive instead of the internal hard drive.

Here are the steps to create a bootable USB drive:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Open the “Disk Utility” application.
  3. Select the USB drive from the list of drives on the left sidebar.
  4. Click on the “Erase” tab.
  5. Choose a name for the drive and select the “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” format.
  6. Click on the “Erase” button to format the USB drive.
  7. Once the formatting is complete, close the “Disk Utility” application.
  8. Download the macOS installation file from the App Store or the official Apple website.
  9. Open the “Terminal” application.
  10. Type the following command: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/USBDriveName –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app (replace “USBDriveName” with the name of your USB drive).
  11. Press Enter and enter your administrator password when prompted.
  12. Wait for the process to complete. It may take some time.
  13. Once the process is finished, you will have a bootable USB drive.

Now you can use this bootable USB drive to start up your Mac and perform a clean installation of macOS or troubleshoot any startup issues.

Note: Make sure to backup any important data on the USB drive before proceeding, as the formatting process will erase all existing data on the drive.

Verify the Bootable USB Drive

Before proceeding with the startup process, it is important to verify if the USB drive is bootable. This step ensures that the Mac can recognize and boot from the external drive during the installation process.

To verify the bootable USB drive, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the bootable USB drive into an available USB port on your Mac.
  2. Restart your Mac.
  3. Press and hold the Option (⌥) key immediately upon hearing the startup sound.
  4. A startup disk selection screen will appear.
  5. Look for the external USB drive listed on the screen.
  6. Select the USB drive using the arrow keys on your keyboard.
  7. Press the Return (⏎) key to start booting from the USB drive.

If the USB drive is recognized and listed on the startup disk selection screen, it means that the drive is bootable and ready for installation. However, if the USB drive is not listed, it may indicate that the drive is not properly formatted or the installation files are not correctly written to the drive.

In such cases, it is recommended to recreate the bootable USB drive using a reliable installation tool and make sure to follow the instructions carefully. Once the bootable USB drive is successfully created, repeat the verification process to ensure its bootability.

Changing the Startup Disk

When you want to boot your Mac from a USB or external drive, you need to change the startup disk. This allows your Mac to recognize and boot from the bootable USB or external drive instead of the internal startup disk.

To change the startup disk on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the bootable USB or external drive to your Mac.
  2. Restart your Mac.
  3. While your Mac is restarting, press and hold the Option key on your keyboard.
  4. You will see a list of available startup disks on your screen.
  5. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select the USB or external drive that you want to boot from.
  6. Once you have selected the USB or external drive, press the Enter key.
  7. Your Mac will now boot from the selected USB or external drive.

Note that if your Mac doesn’t recognize the bootable USB or external drive, you may need to format the drive using a compatible file system, such as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS.

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Changing the startup disk is necessary when you want to perform a fresh installation of macOS or troubleshoot issues with your Mac’s internal startup disk. By booting from a USB or external drive, you can access the installation files or perform repairs on your Mac’s startup disk.

Remember to change the startup disk back to the internal disk once you have finished using the bootable USB or external drive. This ensures that your Mac boots normally from its internal disk in the future.

Restart Your Mac

Restart Your Mac

To boot your Mac from a bootable external USB drive, you need to restart your Mac and follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the bootable USB drive is connected to your Mac.
  2. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen.
  3. Select “Restart” from the drop-down menu.
  4. While your Mac is restarting, hold down the “Option” key on your keyboard.
  5. Release the “Option” key when you see the startup disk selection screen.
  6. A list of available startup disks will appear on the screen.
  7. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select the bootable USB drive.
  8. Once the bootable USB drive is selected, press the “Return” or “Enter” key.
  9. Your Mac will now start up from the selected bootable USB drive.

By following these steps, you can easily boot your Mac from a bootable external USB drive and access the files and tools stored on the USB drive.

Access the Startup Manager

Access the Startup Manager

To boot your Mac from an external bootable drive, you need to access the Startup Manager. This allows you to select the drive you want to boot from when starting up your Mac.

  1. Start or restart your Mac.
  2. Immediately press and hold the Option key on your keyboard.
  3. Release the Option key when you see the Startup Manager window.

The Startup Manager window will display all the bootable drives connected to your Mac, including the external USB drive you want to boot from.

Note: If you don’t see the Startup Manager window, try restarting your Mac and pressing the Option key again.

Once you have accessed the Startup Manager, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate and select the external USB drive that contains the bootable installation of macOS or any other operating system you want to boot from.

Tip: If you have multiple bootable drives connected to your Mac, you can use the mouse or trackpad to select the drive you want to boot from.

After selecting the external USB drive, press the Return key or wait for a few seconds, and your Mac will start booting from the selected drive.

Note: If you don’t select any drive within a few seconds, your Mac will automatically boot from the default startup disk.

Once your Mac successfully boots from the external USB drive, you can proceed with the installation or troubleshooting process, depending on the purpose of using the bootable drive.

Select the Bootable USB Drive

Select the Bootable USB Drive

Once you have created a bootable USB drive, you will need to select it as the startup disk on your Mac. This will allow your Mac to boot from the USB drive instead of the internal hard drive.

Follow these steps to select the bootable USB drive:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Connect the bootable USB drive to your Mac using an external USB drive.
  3. Turn on your Mac.
  4. Immediately press and hold the Option (⌥) key on your keyboard. This will bring up the Startup Manager.
  5. Release the Option key when you see the Startup Manager window.
  6. In the Startup Manager window, you will see a list of available startup disks. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select the bootable USB drive.
  7. Once you have selected the bootable USB drive, press the Return (⏎) key or click on the arrow below the drive to start booting from the USB drive.

Your Mac will now boot from the selected bootable USB drive, allowing you to proceed with the installation or troubleshooting process.

Booting Mac from USB

Booting Mac from USB

Booting your Mac from a USB drive is a useful process that allows you to install or run an operating system directly from an external USB device. This can be particularly helpful when you need to perform a clean installation of macOS or troubleshoot issues with your startup drive.

To boot your Mac from a USB drive, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac. Make sure it is properly formatted and contains the necessary installation files.
  2. Restart your Mac.
  3. While your Mac is starting up, hold down the Option (⌥) key on your keyboard.
  4. You will see the Startup Manager, which displays all available startup disks. Release the Option key.
  5. Use the arrow keys to select the USB drive from the list of startup disks.
  6. Press Enter or Return to start booting from the USB drive.
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Your Mac will now boot from the USB drive, and you will be able to perform the desired installation or troubleshooting tasks. It’s important to note that the exact steps may vary slightly depending on your Mac model and the version of macOS you are using.

Once you have finished using the USB drive, you can simply eject it from your Mac and restart your computer to boot from the internal startup drive as usual.

Booting your Mac from a USB drive can be a powerful tool in your troubleshooting arsenal. Whether you need to perform a clean installation of macOS or run diagnostic tools, having the ability to boot from an external USB drive gives you more control over your Mac’s startup process.

Restart Your Mac

Once you have created a bootable USB drive for your Mac, you can proceed to restart your computer and boot from the USB drive to begin the installation process.

To restart your Mac and boot from the USB drive, follow these steps:

  1. Save any unsaved work and close all open applications.
  2. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen.
  3. Select “Restart” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Hold down the “Option” key on your keyboard immediately after your Mac begins to restart.
  5. You will see the Startup Manager screen, which displays all available startup disks.
  6. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select the USB drive that contains the bootable installation.
  7. Once you have selected the USB drive, press the “Return” or “Enter” key on your keyboard.
  8. Your Mac will now boot from the USB drive and the installation process will begin.

It is important to note that the exact steps may vary slightly depending on the model and version of your Mac. However, the general process of booting from a USB drive remains the same.

Make sure to follow any on-screen prompts or instructions during the installation process to ensure a successful installation of your desired operating system.

Access the Startup Manager

To boot your Mac from a USB drive for installation or troubleshooting purposes, you need to access the Startup Manager. This allows you to choose the bootable external drive as the startup disk.

Follow these steps to access the Startup Manager:

  1. Shut down your Mac completely.
  2. Connect the bootable USB drive to your Mac.
  3. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
  4. Immediately hold down the Option key on your keyboard.
  5. Release the Option key when you see the Startup Manager window.

The Startup Manager will display all the available startup disks, including the bootable USB drive. You’ll see icons representing each disk, and you can use the arrow keys or mouse to select the desired disk.

Once you’ve selected the USB drive, press the Return key or click on the disk icon to start booting from the USB drive.

Note that if your Mac is using a firmware password, you’ll need to enter it before accessing the Startup Manager. This provides an extra layer of security to prevent unauthorized access to your Mac’s startup options.

FAQ about topic Step-by-Step Guide: How to Boot Mac from USB

Can I boot my Mac from a USB drive?

Yes, you can boot your Mac from a USB drive. It allows you to run different operating systems or troubleshoot your Mac.

What do I need to boot my Mac from a USB drive?

To boot your Mac from a USB drive, you will need a USB drive with enough storage space, a Mac computer, and a bootable USB installer.

How do I create a bootable USB drive for my Mac?

To create a bootable USB drive for your Mac, you can use the Disk Utility application. First, format the USB drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format. Then, use the “Restore” function in Disk Utility to copy the contents of the bootable installer onto the USB drive.

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