Create bootable OS X Maverick USB Flash Drive

Create bootable OS X Maverick USB Flash Drive from original App Store Mavericks 10.9 package. There are two methods to create a bootable Mavericsks on a USB pend drive:

Method 1:

1) Erase a minimum 8GB USB pen drive using Disk Utility* and ensure it’s named ‘Untitled’ and Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format.

2) Download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store. It’ll download and save to the Applications folder automatically. Furthermore, after it’s finished downloading, it may automatically begin the install process. If this happens, just quickly cancel it.

3) Run the below command in Terminal** window:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

4) Type your current user password.

The application will erase your USB pen drive first, then write Mac OS X Mavericks files making it bootable. The result of burning image into USB should be as follows:

Password:
Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%… 20%…100%…
Copying installer files to disk…
Copy complete.
Making disk bootable…
Copying boot files…
Copy complete.
Done.

Method 2 (for those that got “Failed to start erase of disk due to error (-9999, 0)”):

Some people struggle to create a bootable Mavericks on a USB thumb drive and get “Failed to start erase of disk due to error (-9999, 0)” error message. If you are one of them try the below steps:

  1. You are going to need to see some hidden files for this.  So start by opening Terminal.app** and pasting in the following (don’t worry, we’ll undo this change when we are done)…
    defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
    killall Finder
  2. If you haven’t already done it, download the Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9 installer as normal from the app store.
  3. After download you will have the ‘Install OS X 10.9′ app in your /Applications folder. Right-click it and select ‘Show Package Contents’.
  4. Navigate to the Contents/SharedSupport. There you will see the InstallESD.dmg file.  Unfortunately, you can’t just grab it and restore it.  Instead double-click it to mount it.
  5. You should now see the normally hidden BaseSystem.dmg file in the mounted volume.
  6. Open Disk Utility* and restore the source BaseSystem.dmg to the destination of your USB drive.
  7. Now open up the restored USB volume (default name is OS X Base System) and navigate to System/Installation. In there you will see an alias for Packages. Delete this alias.
  8. Copy the full Packages folder from the root of the mounted InstallESD volume (the same place you got the BaseSystem.dmg file) to the USB volumes System/Installation folder. Basically, replace the Packages alias you just deleted with the real Packages folder from the original InstallESD volume.
  9. The USB drive should now be bootable. So simply restart, hold down the Option key (Alt) when booting with the USB drive in your machine, and you should get the option to boot from the USB drive.
  10. Remember, to rehide the normall hidden files just repeat step 1 but change YES to NO.


* – in order to run Disk Utility press CMD + Space, type Disk Utility and click/select to run. Alternatively go to Applications > Utilities, find and run Disk Utility from there.
** – in order to run Terminal press CMD + Space, type Terminal and click/select to run. Alternatively go to Applications > Utilities, find and run Terminal from there.

12 thoughts on “Create bootable OS X Maverick USB Flash Drive

    • Should be fine now i.e. have tested copying and pasting into Terminal and it started burning my Apple Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9 into USB Flash Drive. Please let me know if you experience any problems. Ta for letting me know. D

  1. I am running a danish Mac OS version and folders are named differently. I have tried to replace “Applications” with “Programmer” in the command above, but that results in “command not found”. Do I need to replace anything else, to make this work with my local language version of Mac OS?

    • I would remove the whole ‘/Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia’ and start typing /Progr hit Tab key to complete then type next part of the path that’s equivalent to ‘Install’ in your language hit tab again and continue doint that until you get to the last ‘createinstallmedia’. Same applies for /Volumes/Untitled which may differ in other languages. Tab key basically will autocompelete for you the correct path.

    • You’ll need a Dual Layer 8GB DVD in order to burn the image:

      1) Search in Spotlight (cmd+space) for ‘Install OS X Mavericks.app’.
      2) Click on ‘Show All in Finder’ at the top.
      3) Find ‘Install OS X Mavericks’ package, right click and choose ‘Show Package Contents’.
      4) Navigate to ‘SharedSupport’ folder
      5) Right click on InstallESD.dmg and select Burn “InstallESD.dmg” to Disc… (this should burn file’s contents although still need to test it).

  2. Help! I’m not sure what I’m doing. This seemed really easy to do, but I keep getting “Failed to start erase of disk due to error (-9999, 0).
    A error occurred erasing the disk.

    Anyone want to help me?

    • Hi,

      Sorry, your email notification went to spam and only read it now. Did you solve your problem? I’d try using disk utility to erase. If the problem persists check if your pen/flash driver is protected against writes. Also, I have included a second method that supposed to work. You may want to try it.

  3. Many thanks, it worked perfectly. Well, it didn’t work at first, but that’s because I had not begun by downloading Maverick. So I did, following these instructions:

    “Download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store. It’ll download and save to the Applications folder automatically. Furthermore, after it’s finished downloading, it may automatically begin the install process. If this happens, just quickly cancel it.”

    And then, the Terminal command worked perfectly.

    Thank you again!

    • That’s a very good point! I should have never assumed people have already downloaded the new OS X. I’ve added your paragraph to my text – thank you very much.

      • Hi, it is not working for me. This is the error I am getting:

        -bash: sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app –nointeraction: No such file or directory

        • Sorry, it went into SPAM. You need to get the paths correctly. Start at / and use tab key to complete folder names.

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