ISSUE 18.7.F • 2021-02-22
The AskWoody Newsletter

In this issue

APPLE: How to create a bootable macOS installer

BEST OF THE LOUNGE: Trying Linux on your Windows system

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

PUBLIC DEFENDER: Amazon’s new ‘same-day nodes’ will displace postal deliveries

LANGALIST: Glacially slow, 10-minute boot times!

PATCH WATCH: The latest vulnerabilities in the network stack

BEST UTILITIES: Freeware Spotlight — FastCopy


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How to create a bootable macOS installer

Nathan Parker

By Nathan Parker

Once included with macOS, installers are now available only for download.

In the past, macOS X installers were available on a DVD. This changed with OS X Lion in 2011. The only way to get the installers today is to download them (at no charge) from the Mac App Store.

Despite this minor inconvenience, the process to create an installer is quite simple. You’ll need a spare flash drive (formatted as macOS Extended with at least 12GB free space) and either a third-party app or a quick session with Terminal, the Mac’s command line app similar to Command Prompt in Windows. It can be useful if you want to install macOS on multiple computers without downloading the installer each time.

These instructions are for Big Sur, the latest version of macOS. Apple provides additional instructions for previous versions of macOS.

Option 1: Install Disk Creator

Many Mac users would prefer to use an app with a GUI, instead of running a command in Terminal. The free, third-party Install Disk Creator does the job. Here are the instructions for using Install Disk Creator.

  1. Download the macOS installer from the Mac App Store.
  2. Download Install Disk Creator, then install the app by dragging it to the Applications folder on your Mac.
  3. Plug in the flash drive.
  4. Open Install Disk Creator.
  5. Select the flash drive in Install Disk Creator, then click Create Installer.
  6. Confirm you wish to erase the drive (it will erase the entire drive), then wait for Install Disk Creator to finish.
  7. Continue with the instructions in the “Use bootable macOS Installer” section below.
Option 2: macOS Terminal
    1. Download the macOS installer from the Mac App Store.
    2. Plug in the flash drive.
    3. Open Terminal, which is found in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.
    4. Enter the following command in Terminal. This command assumes the macOS installer is located in the Applications folder and the flash drive is named MyVolume. You can edit this command with the actual name of the flash drive or with a different path to the macOS installer if need be.

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ –volume /Volumes/MyVolume

  1. Press Return to enter the command.
  2. Enter your administrator password and press Return again to run the installer. Note that Terminal will not display the password while you are entering it.
  3. Press Y, then Return again to confirm you want to erase this flash drive (it will erase the entire drive).
  4. If you see an alert that Terminal would like to access files on a removable volume, click OK to allow the copy to proceed.
  5. Once the process is complete, exit Terminal, then eject and remove the flash drive.
  6. Some macOS Big Sur users need to update the drive before the drive can be used as a bootable drive. If this happens to you, follow the instructions in this MacWorld article.
  7. Continue with the instructions in the “Use Bootable macOS Installer” section below.
Use the bootable macOS Installer

Using your new bootable macOS installer depends upon your Mac’s processor type.

  • On Intel Macs, hold down the Option key at startup.
  • On Apple Silicon Macs, hold down the Power button instead.

Either way, a list of bootable volumes will appear. Select the desired volume, then follow the on-screen instructions. Further detail is available at Apple support.

Creating a bootable macOS installer is not difficult. It is an extremely useful tool for any Mac system administrator’s troubleshooting kit because it greatly simplifies installing macOS on multiple computers without downloading it each time. It simplifies keeping the drive up to date with major macOS versions, ensuring the USB always has a current, bootable macOS installer ready to go.

Questions or comments? Feedback on this article is always welcome in the AskWoody Lounge!

Nathan Parker has been using Apple devices since 2006, when he purchased a PowerBook G4 running Mac OS X Tiger. He has worked in various IT consulting roles and is currently an IT Consultant for Earth Networks (formerly WeatherBug). In addition to his contributions on AskWoody, Nathan also blogs weather updates at WeatherTogether. And he’s working on his PhD.

Best of the Lounge

Trying Linux on your Windows system

Sandra Henry-Stocker’s article kicked off a long thread in the forums.

AskWoody Plus member Slowpoke 47 exhorted readers by writing “For those Windows users considering Linux- do it!” and then went on to describe his experience with Linux Mint.


For the second week in a row, Brian Livingston’s article percolated to the top, with much comment. AskWoody MVP Michael432 offered some insights on the Pepwave Surf SOHO router.


AskWoody Plus member rebop2020 post from New Year’s Day got new life last week as the conversation continued.


And yet another thread in the support forums gained new life, as Loungers exccjanged their experiences with additional third-party backup programs.


This week’s theme continues, with Susan Bradley’s post from two weeks ago still in the hit parade. Experience varies, especially with the .net framework update.

If you’re not already a Lounge member, use the quick registration form to sign up for free.

Stories in this week’s PAID AskWoody Plus Newsletter
Become an ASKWOODY PLUS member today!


Brian Livingston

Amazon’s new ‘same-day nodes’ will displace postal deliveries

By Brian Livingston

The market dominance of Amazon in online retail is well known. But what’s less understood is the effect the corporate giant’s expansion into superfast delivery services will have on the US Postal Service and private parcel companies.


Fred Langa

Glacially slow, 10-minute boot times!

By Fred Langa

When a PC bogs down to the point where it takes a full 10 minutes just to fully wake up, you know something’s seriously wrong!

The PC’s owner thinks his startup apps are to blame, and asks how to analyze the PC’s boot process.


Susan Bradley

The latest vulnerabilities in the network stack

By Susan Bradley

For this week’s security focus, I’m going to home in on the impact of three security vulnerabilities considered by Microsoft the most critical security issues of the month and on their impact on businesses.


Deanna McElveen

Freeware Spotlight — FastCopy

By Deanna McElveen

When moving large amounts of data from one location to another, Windows can be a bit of a turtle.I’m sure we’ve all started a large file copy before leaving the office, only to find out that Microsoft paused it 15 minutes later because a folder or file name was too long.

You’re welcome to share! Do you know someone who would benefit from the information in this newsletter? Feel free to forward it to them. And encourage them to subscribe via our online signup form — it’s completely free!

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