Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive

Jul 8, 2011 - 296 Comments

Mac OS X Lion Install USB Boot Drive

I’m going to walk through the process of making a bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion installation drive out of any USB flash drive key. This is similar to the process of making a bootable Lion installer DVD, but I prefer a USB flash drive because it’s faster, smaller, and I have a MacBook Air so an installation DVD isn’t too useful for me.

This is pretty easy to do, but I have made the walkthrough as simple as possible with plenty of screenshots, so just follow along the instructions.


Got all that? Good, let’s proceed.

How to Create a Bootable Mac OS X Lion Installation USB Drive

We’re going to assume you already have Mac OS X Lion downloaded from the App Store, if you don’t, do that first. If you have anything stored on the USB flash drive you’re going to lose it, so be prepared for that and back it up.

First we are going to locate the Lion InstallESD.dmg file and mount it:

  • Navigate to your applications folder
  • Right-click (or control-click) on the “Install Mac OS X” and select “Show Package Contents”
  • Open the “Contents” directory and then go into “SharedSupport”

Lion InstallESD.dmg location

  • Double-click on “InstallESD.dmg” to mount the Lion disk image onto your Mac desktop, it will show up like the image below
  • Mac OS X Lion Installer mounted on Mac OS X Desktop

Next, we format the USB flash drive, this will become the bootable Lion installer:

  • Plug the USB flash drive into your Mac
  • Launch Disk Utility
  • Select your USB drive from the left side of Disk Utility, then click on the “Erase” tab
  • Choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the Format, and name the USB key what you want
  • Click on “Erase” to format the USB drive

Format a USB Key to create a Bootable Lion Installer Drive

Now that the USB flash drive has been formatted to the appropriate filesystem, we are going to restore the previously mounted InstallESD.dmg file to the blank USB drive.

  • Right-click on the USB drive in Disk Utility and select “Restore”
  • Restore Lion installer DMG to USB drive

  • Now you need to set the source disk for the restore. This is why we mounted the InstallESD.dmg file earlier, because we can just drag and drop the “Mac OS X Install ESD” image into the “Source” – if you didn’t mount the image, you can manually locate and select the image file yourself by clicking on “Image”

Select the OS X Lion installer as source

  • Drag the formatted USB key to the “Destination” and check “Erase destination”
  • Be sure you have the right things in the right places, you don’t want to format the wrong drive – then click on “Restore”

Now you wait while the Lion DMG is restored to the USB drive, this can take a while and you’ll see a screen like this:

Create a Bootable Lion Installer Drive

When this is finished, your bootable Mac OS X Lion installer drive is complete! You can now boot any Lion compatible Mac with the USB drive, just plug the USB key in, hold down Option during initial boot, and select the drive. Here’s what you’ll see upon booting with the drive connected:

Boot Lion USB Installer

From here you can format, restore from backups, or reinstall Lion. If you’re wondering about the other drives pictured, it’s because I am dual booting Lion and Snow Leopard, and “Recovery HD” is the small recovery partition that Lion installs on its own. This process should work with a standard external USB hard drive too, but I have not tried that specifically.

Advantages to making a bootable Lion USB drive:

  • You can perform a clean OS X Lion install with the USB drive
  • The Lion USB key drive becomes a recovery disk with access to Disk Utility, re-installation, access Time Machine backups, and everything the Recovery HD partition does
  • You will have external media to recover and reinstall Lion in the event of total drive failure or some other catastrophe

Enjoy Mac OS X 10.7 Lion!


Related articles:

Posted by: AJ in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Gregor Hekro says:

    I try to install Lion from USB but after some minutes i got the no stopping sign.
    What i can do?

  2. Luke says:

    Followed the instructions from start to finish, and it worked without a problem. I’ve been through several tutorials, Youtube videos, and old articles; finally, before giving up, I found this article.

    Thank you, I appreciate the time you took to post this, it helped 100%.

  3. Viktoriya says:

    Hi there,

    I did all the steps with the USB (Lion MacOSX 10.7 ), everything seem to be done right. But my laptop still isn’t seeing it after holding Alt.

    Any suggestions please.


  4. Calab says:

    Went through all the steps without a problem. When I boot my machine holding the OPTION key all I see to choose from is EFI Boot… How does this help me install Lion on my Mac Pro 1,1?

  5. Aosat says:

    My Macbook pro 2010 not boot
    and goes to online backup but after backup not working just show white page what can i do

  6. Ryan says:

    I purchased OS X Lion from the App store and now it will not download onto my computer in order for me to turn my flash drive into a bootable installer. I get this message when I click download, “This version of Mac OS X 10.7 cannot be installed on this computer.” My mac is a 10.12.6

    • Marty says:

      I realize this is several years too late, but on the hope that it might hep someone else…

      The fact that it says it cannot be installed is NOT relevant. Go and look in your “Applications” folder for an item called Install MacOSX Lion.

      Now reread the directions above. Enjoy!

  7. Ryan says:

    I purchased OS X Lion from the App store and now it will not download onto my computer in order for me to turn my flash drive into a bootable installer. I get this message when I click download, “This version of Mac OS X 10.7 cannot be installed on this computer.” My mac is a 10.12.6

  8. There is no InstallESD.dmg file in the Lion I downloaded. No SharedSupport folder at all. What do I do

  9. david says:

    Hello. It des not shie the restore option. Only

    Please help. Thank you

  10. Lex says:

    I followed all these steps, when I finally plugged it into the computer and selected the usb key just like in the image above I got a black screen with a white flashing line in the top left corner. It’s been like this for awhile now with no change/progress. Any ideas what went wrong or how to fix this?

  11. Antoniya says:

    Thanks, this worked perfectly, very useful!

  12. Martin says:

    Ok, i tried it, exactly as described.

    Turns out yeh, my Lion backup on the External HDD was too large for my partition. So i just installed a fresh copy of Lion, and I can access my files from my backup from my External HD at a later date, can copy them over, etc. So that’s cool.

    Thanks very much OSX Daily people; i had to restore my dual boot of Lion and Yosemite to a clean install of Yosemite after some fan issues causing my fans to spin too much. I guess it’s just an older machine and that’s why, but sometimes the fans spin at 6,600rpm when i am doing pretty much nothing (Chrome, maybe a bit of mail). I suspect it’s just a mac issue internally, and not software now. At least i can take it in and tell them that now, because i need Lion on the drive to access old programmes and files.

    So yeh just to say; it worked, June 16th, 2015.

    Over and out.

  13. Martin says:

    I am just about to try and do this, on a Mac running Yosemite.

    Partitioned the drive, to make a 300GB (I have a MacBook Pro with a 750GB HDD) for OSX Lion. I have an external HD with a full back up of my previous Lion OS.

    Only complication might be that the back up on the HDD will be too big for the partition drive of 300GB… i think the backup is something like 700GB. Can you confirm before i go ahead, something? If i install Lion and try and back up to the 300GB Lion partition, will it fail due to lack of space, or …. will it install limited files, or… ?

    If i have to partition the drive to allow for 700GB plus, that would only leave me 50GB for Yosemite. Which to be honest, i would rather. I prefer Lion. Yosemite is a bit flashy, and kinda crap IMO.


  14. Gary Bridger says:

    HELP . CAN THIS BE USED TO repair the mapping on an external hard drive. My ext 1tb will not un mount, I got it going for a moment, due to bad permission in aperture , it wen funny again. The drive shows folders but no files, , I cannot partition it or do I want to? No as my 9 years of photos are on it, Now , I have the lion ox 10.7 on disc and on usb stick, is this the same thing?

    • TNa says:

      Your external hard drive might be failing if it will not mount or be visible in Disk Utility, making a boot installer is not going to help that situation. If the data is important, take it to a data recovery expert. There could be other issues too, but it’s impossible to know without someone being there to see and troubleshoot. Apple Store could be helpful, but data recovery may be a better option.

    • Elgin says:

      To follow up with a slight twist:

      CAN THIS BE USED to repair the partition/mapping on an INTERNAL hard drive? To wit:

      The machine will not boot up. It accepts the password, but leads only to the CIRCLE-SLASH sign. Disk Utility can’t repair or restore because ‘problems found with the partition map’, and it can’t ‘verify system storage’.

      My hope is to download Lion to an external drive, and then boot the Macbook Air from the external drive.

      IF I can boot it that way, then I would try running Disk Utility recovery directly on the machine. Perhaps a clean re-install of Lion, … whatever works.

      No good if I boot the machine and it STILL won’t recognize the disk, though.

      Expert Opinions … or even, any thoughts?

  15. Anthony Santarini says:

    I love you!

  16. flint ibrah says:

    help please i have installed leopard but my macbook does not boot from HD when it boots from HD it stops on ablue screen i dont wats happening

  17. Malcolm Derrick says:

    The files were on the stick so, after zapping pram, it has now started up and is reinstalling Lion.

  18. Malcolm Derrick says:

    I’ve followed the instructions but when the ‘copying’ to the USB is nearly finished I get an error box saying the restore has failed & says something about an ‘argument’, any ideas please?

  19. Eric says:

    I made the disk and all goes well, I hold Option when booting my mac book pro that needs installed {new hdd} it shows me the correct picture for the Install, I click it then i get a Circle with a Diagonal Line, then it shuts off. Anyone got an idea what is wrong here? The system is an Intel CPU so thats not it. The only thing that is slightly different is when I made the disk the step that says Right-Click then restore, I do not get that option only the top 4, so I used the Restore Tab is this the problem? If so why don’t I see the other options when I right-click?

  20. […] OS X Installer on the Install partition. I basically followed the instructions from OSX Daily page: Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive. (Though has a nice set of instructions as well.) I had a copy of the Lion installer, […]

  21. […] OS X Daily’s instructions to make a USB Installation stick […]

  22. Spot on, many thanks. I just wanted to confirm that this works perfectly with Mountain Lion too. I was having problems trying to restore the DMG directly, and mounting it first and restoring the contained disc image is what I had to do.

    Thanks again!

  23. Steven says:

    Ok, so I’m in a bit of trouble here. I only have one Mac(Macbook Pro). I purchased Lion with my brothers Apple ID. He forgot his password to his ID(and any forms of recovering it) and my macbook is stuck on the Recovery boot screen. Is there any possible way to do this on a windows computer but for a Mac boot?

  24. Spencer says:

    Okay. After Lion’s release last summer, I downloaded it and made a bootable Lion flash drive, which works great. Now, I want to burn Lion from the flash drive to a DVD.

    On the flash drive, when I open Contents of “Install Mac OS X,” I do not see a Shared Support folder.

    Can I make a bootable DVD from my bootable Lion USB flash drive?

  25. Bill says:

    I have run this procedure (and similar ones from other sites) many times on my brand new MacBook Pro 13″ – Mid-2012. But each time I reboot holding down the Option key, the USB 32 gig flash drive fails to be listed in the available drives. In fact, holding down the option key shows only a blank grey screen until I remove the USB Flash Drive. Then the regular hard drive options appear.

    Is there something that has changed with the new MacBooks & this procedure?


    • Matt says:

      No nothing has changed, are you certain the Flash Drive is formatted properly and is bootable?

      • Bill says:

        Thanks for your reply. Yes, the drive is formatted just as it should be. One partition, GUID. Interestingly, you can even select it as a Set Start-up Drive in the Start Up Disk control panel in System Preferences. But when you press Restart, once it’s been selected in that panel, the MacBook Pro never completes its boot cycle – you just get the Chime, followed by a light grey screen.

        • Bill says:

          Interestingly, the USB 3 drive does show up on my wife’s older Black MacBook when I hold down the option key. When it select it and open it I’m taken to the installing dialog.

          Not sure if this is because the USB Flash Drive is USB 3.0, or because my MacBook Pro in a brand new Mid- 2012 model.

          Question: Is there a way to run a complete Desktop Version of Lion 10.7.4 from a USB Flash Drive? Rather than simply running the Lion Installer?

    • Jorge says:

      It is very likely that your usb cannot be used as a bootable unit. I suggest trying a different usb drive.

  26. Russ says:

    Outstanding!!! Worked like a charm.
    I was needing to do a clean install. The upgrade made things horribly slow, and no amount of maintenance would correct it.

  27. Jim says:

    Like others I am very literal when you mention “right click” and select restore, I along with others had this issue of not locating but thanks for info found in comments I noticed there was a tab listed…

  28. Boss D says:

    Just a question, my Macbook Pro late 2011 got stolen, i did remote wipe & lock using iCloud, can they just reformat, reinstall Lion with this method and use it again?

  29. […] lion installer usb stick Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive iMac 24" 2.4Gb with 4Gb RAM, 2Tb Time Capsule & Airport Express Lacie Extreme BigDisk […]

  30. E J says:

    Ohh.. thats with already having Lion 10.7.3 installed (purch App) re-downlaoding it, and going through your motions… Thanks Again!

    E J

  31. E J says:

    Hey, I did it… and with a 8GB Sandisk MicroSD plugged into a Micro SD adapter, plugged into a Sandisk micro mate USB Reader!!!

    Did this on my iMac, verified it works on my MBP… it does!

    Thank You!

  32. Mata Faka says:

    i tried all the steps above, but once I insert the usb flash drive into my macbook and start the installation,
    Lion install then select drive (the disk is locked)

  33. John Donohue says:

    Went through all of these exact steps, loaded it onto my 12GB USB drive and got this message: The application “Install Mac OS X” cannot be used from this volume.

    Anyone know what I’m doing wrong?

  34. […] run it. Open the file in the Applications folder and make a bootable USB thumb drive as set out:- Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive Of course if you have an external drive cloned from the internal, formatting and installing Lion […]

  35. theguy says:

    I tried this and when I got to the restore part I got ” Restore Failure” Couldn’t execute helper tool.” So annoying. Anyone have any idea whats wrong?????

    • Carlos Velazquez says:


      I did the restore process 5 times getting the Restore Failure massage, I was dragging the InstallESD.dmg file.

      Solution: Re-dowload OS X Lion, Open Disk Utility, locate InstallESD.dmg file from SharedSupport folder and double click it (Automatically the InstallESD.dmg and Mac OS X Install ESD is going to mount in the Disk Utility application on the left side), Drag the Mac OS X Install ESD file to the Source and Drag your usb partition (if you have more than one partition on your usb) to the Destination and RESTORE.

      Note: I have a 16GB SanDisk Cruzer Media USB with (2 Partition Layout), a 5GB partition for MAC OS X Lion Installer.

  36. Sadim says:

    just one quick question
    does this method saves me from having to access the internet to download Lion after booting from the USB?
    or the USB does actually have all the installation files (not just only the recovery assistant).???
    because it happened to me once that I was in a place abroad where there is a very lousy internet connection, and couldn’t really download the Lion after booting from the built in recovery assistant. So I would like and option to install the Lion entirely from a USB without having to access the internet at all.!!!!

  37. […] way is this : Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive Reply With Quote   + Reply to […]

  38. […] yerg, you can follow this guide on how to make a 4GB+ USB drive into a 10.7 OS X installer: Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive JB Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous […]

  39. mark says:

    Dudes, how i erase the partition of the mac os x lion installer of my flash usb?
    I want my flash drive like before…but i can’t. how i do that?

  40. Peace says:

    I have a Mac Air gifted by son. I am almost a dummy, with only very limited proficiency in mac. Son upgraded the OS to Lion free as it was allowed. It is running OK. Do I still have to spend USD 30/- to make a bootable USB stick. Is there any other method to make Boot USB key or MicroSD via USB reader for a dummy like me.

    May I expect help.
    Thanks in anticipation.

  41. […] Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive […]

  42. John says:

    Ultimately the way I am doing it as I do not have the right click option to restore results in :

    Restore Failure
    Could not restore – Invalid argument

  43. John says:

    I get to the step where I right click and I have no option called “restore”. This blows.

    • res says:

      You can click on the “Restore” tab instead if you want, same thing.

      • John says:

        Hi, I try that as well but the following steps just don’t match up. Surely I must be doing something wrong but I just don’t know what….I will keep plugging away. Thanks.

  44. Shadi says:

    I was wondering if this can work if you have the Mountain Lion 10.8 preview installed.
    Can you reinstall Lion if your system has Mountain Lion 10.8 installed?

  45. Nego says:

    Guys i got a problem, my mac sistem frozed, it wont start. I did all the “start” trics i could find over the net still wont work. I want to try reinstaling the operating sistem but here’s where the catch is: i’m using a macbook air and don’t have a dvd unit and since it’s not starting i cant make a bootable usb.
    Anyone knows if there is a way to make one (bootable usb for mac ) in windows? because i have a desktop pc that i can use.
    Hope there is so i don’t have to spend money on os reinstal in a mac store.

    • shaka640 says:

      i have the same problem, my mac doesnt work, i want to make the bootable usb in my windows laptop… is there anyway to do it?

  46. Sam Small says:

    So what would it take to get you to put that 10.7.0 that you have squirled away onto a bootable thumb drive that I could use to install 10.7.0 on my mac? Avid Media Composer isn’t operating on 10.7.3 only 10.7.2 and that’s all I can get from Apple. Tech support there suggested I find someone like you who has 10.7.0 becasue they don’t have it available anywhere anymore.

    If anyone can do this I’d really appreciate it. you can reach me direct at samsmall at or (973) 271 0788



  47. sam says:

    how i format the USB drive later?
    be back a normal usb drive, i can’t format it.
    error “unable to unmont the usb drive”


  48. […] Download OS X Lion from the Mac App Store and make a bootable OS X Lion installer from a USB drive […]

  49. john says:

    Men, and later how i erase the partition? i’m trying to recovery the USB like before, but i can’t, please explain!


  50. Nasusgaj says:

    Worked perfectly – Thanks!

  51. landoncube says:

    Works for Mountain Lion, too. Sweet!

  52. PuddaRicanMac says:

    Thanks, I’m glad I switched to Mac over PC…this is a heck of a lot easier on Mac than PC…and I’m a computer tech.

  53. djpenn says:

    If you open App Store and click Updates, you can update your Lion installer to version 1.0.16. It replaces your copy if you allowed it to self-erase at installation. But using the InstallESD.dmg from inside this installer (SHA1 = 8ef208772f878698e9dd92b3632e25b23ffc9ca7) creates a bootable 10.7.3 (11D50) USB stick. That is cool.

  54. crypto7 says:

    Yeah, I just stumbled on that too… If you go into the App Store and click on Updates you can update your Lion installer to version 1.0.16. Using the InstallESD.dmg file from inside this installer now makes a 10.7.3 (build 11D50) bootable USB stick. That is cool! I think I’m starting to warm up to Apple’s new “App Store” distribution method…

  55. Ed says:

    This procedure needs to be updated for 10.7.3. Lion OS 10.7.3 is now available for download in the app store for those who originally purchased 10.7+. Additionally, Disk Utility 12.1’s “restore” option is no longer available by right-clicking the disk image, but by clicking the right-most button in the application frame. This took me a while to notice, (and it was right in front of my face). Updating your USB stick to 10.7.3 will also help avoid the bundled update on fresh installs, which is around 1.43 GB (not including iTunes updates, etc.) I find that an 8GB stick works best, and will allow for file size growth which may be inevitable in future OS updates. Hope this helps!

  56. Anas says:

    How to install through windows ?

  57. Hector says:

    It worked, awesome.

    I would like to organize / copy my other setup disks to my flash drive, Adobe, office…. it seems this would make for a quicker and easier install.

    What method would work best?

  58. JD says:

    1) I’m stuck on the first step, as I am unable to locate the Lion InstallESD.dmg file to mount it. I downloaded Mac OS X Lion from the App Store in August 2011. When I navigate to my applications folder, there is no “Install Mac OS X”. Stuck.

    2) Am a correct in assuming that if I make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive (by following your instructions), this can also be used as an External Lion Boot Recovery Drive?

    Thank you.

  59. bOsO says:

    Great that is what I was looking for!! I also created a partition in my hard drive and used your method to create a restore point
    thank you

  60. Josh says:

    I made a bootable os x lion flash drive and bought it through the app store on one mac and put it on a total of 2 macs right now and I’m going to sell them and it did not ask me for my apple id or password on the mac i did not actually buy the software on, but it let me set it up and everything, so my question is, can apple track how many computers you put one even though it does not ask my info and under apple policy it says can only be installed on macs in the household so it would be against policy but how do they know? Also if i included back up DVDs when i sell one will the buyer be able to restore again without using a apple id or password? It requires not internet so i don’t know how they know how much i install.

  61. Max says:

    after doing regular Lion install (on top of SL) my machine jst bogged and gave program errors, etc which is likely from years of formatting adding stuff, etc….but it is slogging though with Lion. So i’m interested in doing a clean reinstall of LION ON TOP OF (or actually in place of) the poor performing Lion I have running now. I have taken the same USB stick that worked earlier (and is working on tests with other computer) and hold option when launching to get choice of start up disk at launch….AND THE USB STICK WITH LION INSTALLER cannot be seen at boot choice screen at all! Thumb drive is clean, readable, etc. the USB ports can see it clearly in every situation…EXCEPT WHEN I GO TO ACTUALLY LAUNCH from it.

    Question is….could it be that seeing the install drive from with lion be causing the thing to not read(or display) the thumb drive with installer on it? Should I wipe drive completely first….appraoch cleaned drive as empty and HOPE that then the USB stick will be able to boot and install from???

    Thanks for any help as we are moving beyond my knowledge. MS

  62. Jack says:

    How I do it on a new macbookpro thats already came with Lion?

  63. […] you intend to make a OS X Lion USB installer or create any other bootable Mac OS X volume from a drive, you will also need to complete this […]

  64. Inga says:

    Thank you very much for this explanation! I really had no clue how to do it and this is very clear. Thanks!

  65. aryo says:

    could I do the reverse thing?

    I mean, I’ve the usb stick lion bootable, and I want to make a DMG image from this to save it anywhere and use my usb stick for another purposes.

    is it possible and legal?

  66. Dylan says:

    I tried installing Lion using a USB Drive, but I get this error:

    “Cannot download additional components…”

  67. Takeshi says:


    My wife has a Macbook pro with a Leopard 10.5. Was wondering if the using the USB stick method I can do a upgrade directly from Leopard to Lion? I’d like to keep the original data. That is to say, not a clean install…

    I hope this is not mentioned already. Couldn’t find it myself… Such a long thread!
    Thanks a bunch!

    • aryo says:

      Lion need SL 10.6.8 if you want to direct upgrade.

      so upgrade to SL 10.6.8 first. or backup your data and do clean install, it’s more stable after all.

      plus, check if your hardware is compatible for lion.

  68. […] the installer on a USB thumb drive (8GB works best) or a DVD. Instructions for that can be found here. Once you are done getting the installer on your media of choice, run the installer just like […]

  69. Phoenix says:

    Hey I was a dumb dumb, and bought the usb key knowing of ability to clone dvd(snow leopard), and wanting a fresh install (thought I was smart). thinking i could do the same as snow leopard. but in exploring what i could I could find no file(s) resembling installed.dmg or any .dmg for that matter. Also Lion usb actually reads as a dvd. it’s like a hybrid dvd/usb that allows me to do nothing with it. I really on wanna clone it because lets be honest it’s small, and I’m a klutz.

    Help me

  70. Dan says:

    So if I shelled out $70 for the USB drive with 7.0 already on it, I am simply out of luck as far as creating a USB bootabe drive?

  71. joe says:

    I cannot find the “Install Mac OS X” in the applications folder.

    Can someone help.

    I have both downloaded and installed Lion and it is up and running but I cannot find the quoted file nor do I see a file in the download folder suggesting a .dmg for OS X Lion.

    • Jadin says:

      you find it in the application folder after you d/l it from appstore, but don’t run lion when it’s finish to download, ignore the screen which pop up, this is the time to look in the application folder.

    • aryo says:

      if you’ve lion installed already, you can’t found Lion installer anymore. it’s deleting itself by default.

      but you can re-download again from app store. search the article to re-download lion somewhere here

  72. […] 4GB) and your HDD isn't running low on space (since this causes OS X to slow down), I would do a clean install of Lion. If you follow these instructions you will be able to download the updated 10.7.2 Lion installer […]

  73. kyosaku says:

    I have created and recreated a USB version and a DVD version several times, using this and other suggested methods. Not one has booted.

    When I use option ot select the drive, it begins booting…the gray screen with the Apple logo darkens and opens a screen that apparently tries to install OSX Lion, then a darker gray screen wipes from the top, and a window in several languages that says, “You need to restart your computer. Hold down the power button until the computer shuts off…etc.” Restarting produces the same results, regardless of the method used to choose the start up volume.

    I don’t intend to install Lion until I have a recovery disk…so I could really use some help here. Thanks.

  74. zeedenmark says:

    Hi all…
    We developed a standred application project. And we need DMG file in MAC OS. So, anybody please tell me “How to create Dmg file in MAC OS”.
    please help us….

    Thanks in advance

  75. […] Save yourself some time and burn a DVD before you start the upgrade. You’ll find a tutorial over there at OSXDaily. Another way would be to store Lion to a bootable USB stick, see again on OSXDaily. […]

  76. […] If you choose to reinstall Lion, you’re still going to have to wait for it to download. So, short of making sure you only have a disk breakdown when in range of a fast Internet connection, you might still want to make your own installer stick. […]

  77. rasoul says:

    I have been trying to download Lion and after 11 hours and nearly 50% complete, it stopped unexpectedly. Is there a way to resume from where I left off or I have start all over again!

    I think this is the absolute worst way to distribute a software of 3.7GB size…… what a mess!!!

  78. […] partition on the HDD. Another option would be to find a copy of "InstallESD.dmg" and create your own bootable Lion installer on a USB flash drive or SD card. This will not require an Internet […]

  79. Callum Burns says:

    I have made my lion sd card but when I boot it it says lion cannot be installed please try an reinstall. Just an endless loop. Help!

  80. Richard says:

    Does anyone know if I can use the same key with both computer (iMac & Mac Air) or do I have a different one for each?

  81. iPeter says:

    Sorry! Already saw the answer to my question… =)

  82. iPeter says:

    Maybe a stupid question, but before I make one;

    Is it also possible to perform an upgrade from Snow Leopard to Lion with this bootable USB drive? Or will you only be able to perform A clean install with this?…

    Don’t wanna lose all my data… *lol*.

  83. Samantha says:

    Now one can download RecoveryDiskAssistant from Apple’s websites & all you have to do is plug in the device & click next.

    • Paul says:

      Yes if all you want is a Recovery Disk, but this method shows you how to create an installer USB drive, which allows you to perform a fresh OS X Lion installation without accessing the internet.

  84. ed says:

    if i do this can i install lion on a macbook pro running 10.5.8 ? Also without doing a clean install,. I’m really scared that all of my pics,songs etc get deleted!

    • Matt says:

      You can’t upgrade from 10.5.8, but you can format and do a clean install. Backup your songs and pictures beforehand, of course.

  85. […] want to make an OS X Lion USB install drive yourself? Apple has you covered, and now the official Apple OS X Lion Thumb Drive is available for purchase […]

  86. ErinsMatthew says:

    This worked great. Thank you!

  87. Craig Givant says:

    Worked like a charm…

    As others have stated you MUST exit the installer after the app downloads. Simply go to the upper left menu and QUIT it.

    Also, for those still questioning it….YES, you can use this method to perform an “upgrade”. Be advised however that this is not a choice when running the installer. The only choice I saw was “install Lion” but upon completion my entire system was intact and running a shiny new OS.

    To perform a fresh install if another version of OsX exists I imagine you would need to go into disk utility and “erase” the partition first.

    Now ….. onto upgrading three more machine’s….. I’ll get use to this backward scrolling later.. lol

  88. tomwilson says:

    Note that this will not be possible if you buy Lion from the App Store – when you click to buy it immediately starts downloaded (if you already have an App Store account with a designated credit card). When the download is finished, 3-4 hours later (!) the installation Wizard pops up and tells you that it is closing applications before installing. YOU NEED TO INTERRUPT THE PROCESS AT THIS POINT! Why? Because if the installation does ahead, the .dmg file is automatically wiped at the end of the process and you won’t be able to create the bootable USB drive – or anything else. As a result, I am having to download the OS a second time for another machine instead of doing it the easy way!

  89. Joe says:

    Note that this does not work for MacBook Air (2011 models) which come with MAC OS X Lion already.

  90. […] If you choose to reinstall Lion, you’re still going to have to wait for it to download. So, short of making sure you only have a disk breakdown when in range of a fast Internet connection, you might still want to make your own installer stick. […]

  91. […] Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. This should quell some of the complaints from users who didn’t want to make a Lion USB install drive or boot DVD, or who were otherwise unsatisfied with the Lion Recovery HD partition because it […]

  92. Kourosh says:

    Thanks for the tip,
    I just downloaded the app from torrent.
    I wana know about the registration or serial number!
    is that work with out them?

  93. […] want to make a Lion USB install drive or DVD yourself? It’s easier than ever, but if you aren’t up for it, you can now get an […]

  94. Anveshi says:

    Can we erase that pen drive once we done with installation of Mac OS X Lion

  95. […] to redownload Mac OS X Lion from the Mac App Store? If you plan on making an install drive but you already upgraded to Lion, you’ll need to redownload the Installer so that you can […]

  96. […] 2nd, 2011 – Leave a Comment If you don’t want to deal with the already simple task of making a Lion USB install drive or boot DVD, you will probably like the little third party utility called Lion DiskMaker, […]

  97. […] Lion installer contains a disk image hidden within it, and OS X Daily has got a suggestion on how to create a bootable Lion volume that you can put on a USB stick. (It may be that installation is tied to your Apple ID used to install the disk.) Apple […]

  98. […] Lion installer contains a disk image hidden within it, and OS X Daily has got a suggestion on how to create a bootable Lion volume that you can put on a USB stick. (It may be that installation is tied to your Apple ID used to install the disk.) Apple […]

  99. […] a muchos les gusta hacer . Previamente me había creado un USB instalador de Lion como explican aquí. El MacBook Pro tardó en arrancar porque al haber perdido su disco duro de siempre pues lo hecha […]

  100. […] next month to get it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Building on the instructions posted on OS X Daily, I’ve walked through the process of retrieving my Lion download from the Mac App Store and making […]

  101. […] next month to get it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Building on the instructions posted on OS X Daily, I’ve walked through the process of retrieving my Lion download from the Mac App Store and making […]

  102. […] Lion installer contains a disk image hidden within it, and OS X Daily has got a suggestion on how to create a bootable Lion volume that you can put on a USB stick. (It may be that installation is tied to your Apple ID used to install the disk.) Apple hasn't said […]

  103. Fritz Krefeld says:

    SO what if I just bought a shiny new Macbook Air with Lion already installed? I want to create a bootable installer from the existing system. I want to be able to reinstall the OS clean, from scratch, somewhat like if I’d bought the previous generation MBA and got a nice USB stick installer.

  104. […] to drive you crazy for a while, but give it a week. It’ll get better.  I also recommend installing Lion from scratch, since lots of apps are still not fully compatible with the new cat. Speaking of incompatibility, a […]

  105. Ross says:

    A variant on the question. I have a copy of the dmg file on a DVD made before install.
    After install I accidently removed the Recovery HD partition while sorting Bootcamp. All is working well now except I’d like to recreate the Recovery HD. Could I create a small partition on the disk, format as above and copy the dmg file to create a “Recovery HD partition” again?

  106. Praful says:

    Tried this and now i am in the middle of no where. Just lost os and now it just goes straight to recovery and that also does not re install lion :( any ways working on it should be able to find a solution :)

  107. Praful says:

    Can I use this to do a clean install after I have upgraded to Lion… because when i try this – the system just hangs. Have waited for as long as an hour for this to move. It does not.

    • Matt says:

      Yes you can perform a clean install from the bootable USB drive. Just format the disk first using the built in Disk Utility and then install as usual.

  108. Gene says:

    How do you create a copy of lion after you have
    already installed it? The installed.dmg isn’t visible
    in applications folder.

  109. Al says:

    If you download Lion to create USB installer will you be charged twice by Apple?

  110. Brian says:

    The funny thing is that Apple is going to release Lion on a USB drive this fall for $59! And yet thanks to you, we all can do this for a whole lot cheaper!!!!! Thanks A Million!!!!!

  111. Dave says:

    Hmm… I’m trying to implement the usb drive instructions and cannot ‘restore’ the esd file from the desktop to the erased usb drive.

    I have the mac osx install esd mounted, erased the usb drive & formatted to mac os extended (journaled). It’s an 8gb drive, but when I get to the restore window from disk utility, the ‘restore’ button isn’t available.

    Any ideas?

    • Dave says:

      I should add – I have not “upgraded” or installed yet. I’ve only downloaded from the app store & started with the instructions here.

      • Dave says:

        Never mind.

        Here’s what I did. After the above steps I used right click / restore on the thumb drive image. The information option confirmed it was the right format. I ejected, remounted, re-erased/formatted all to no avail.

        What worked? In disk utility there is a restore BUTTON. Using THAT option, dragging source from desktop, destination (the thumb drive) to destination it started restoring.

        I’m on an Imac of late ’09 vintage running 10.6.8.

  112. Jan says:

    Am I the only having this error when I try to start the install? It says: “This copy of Install Mac OS X Lion application is damaged…”

  113. […] day, so I had to wait until the evening to download my copy of Lion. After I did, I followed these instructions and I copied Lion to a flash drive so that I could perform a clean install on my MacBook instead of […]

  114. Graig says:

    Can you tell me why you should mount the dmg before the restore? There are a number of other articles on how to do this but they don’t say anything about mounting, just to copy InstallESD.dmg to the desktop.

  115. doj says:

    super informative guide, very precise, well done and thanks, BUT REMEMBER NOT TO INSTALL LION BEFORE USING THIS GUIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  116. […] that people add to it. Tolerable on a smartphone, but not so easy – oddly enough – on the desktop.Make a bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion installer from a USB flash drive >> OSX DailyPeople thinking of upgrading may find this useful.Research In Motion: Needham wonders If It could […]

  117. […] Making a Lion USB installer drive […]

  118. Peter says:

    I own a 16 GB USB stick. How big does the partition have to be for the Lion installer? Someone in the comments said the DMG actually contains 4.18GB … so … will a 4.5 GB partition be enough? I want to use the other partition for recovery tools and installers.

  119. Tricky Business says:

    Is it perhaps possible that the installer / installESD.dmg was deleted after installation? I’ve searched my disk but i can’t find the file in question…?!

    • Matt says:

      Yes it gets removed after Lion has been upgraded, that is why you must copy or move the file prior to upgrading the primary source Mac.

      • Tricky Business says:

        Thank you Matt for answering my question. Too bad than, from my perspective the process was pretty ‘automated’ never knowing i would have to boot into single user mode to be able to copy the file to another location.

      • Don says:

        I also installed before copying the installESD.dmg file to a USB Drive. Unfortuantely you cannot just reinstall Lion because the Apple website shows you’ve already installed. I found that if you hold down the Option key and click on the installed button you can actually redownload. However, attempting to find the installESD.dmg file in the APPLICATION folder after downloading but before installing was still unsuccessful as the installer just starts to crank.

  120. I think you need to update the instructions to tell people that they need to save the installer file after download but BEFORE installing it.

  121. […] er at lave en bootable disk (enten dvd eller usb-stik). Så behøver man heller ikke at downloade/kopiere Lion på hver […]

  122. Don says:

    ditto here on the missing .app file. I tried looking for it after the install and it’s nowhere to be seen.

    You should update the post to mention this… sigh – off to download it on another Mac and blow some bandwidth.

  123. Adam says:

    Ok I’ve done a DVD already, and have 16gb Flash drive I carry around most of the time so though why the hell not, might as well make this bootable version too.

    Only one question, can I make this work and still keep my Flash drive for holding my crap on? In other words I’d like to have the OSX Lion backup, but I still want to use my Flash drive for what I bought it for.

    Or do I need to make a partition in the first place? Will I have to wipe the whole thing to start with? Help.

  124. Joe says:

    If you do the method in the original post, putting it on a USB flash drive, will this not require the mac app store user account to verify it and get future updates, as if it was bought on a disc in the first place?

    or will it still act as if it was downloaded from mac app store, and require that account to be signed in to authenticate it/update it?


  125. Jay says:

    Does this mean that I can reformat my computer in the future using only the USB drive, or would I still have to reformat using Snow Leopard first, then use the USB drive?

  126. […] Lion installer contains a disk image hidden within it, and OS X Daily has got a suggestion on how to create a bootable Lion volume that you can put on a USB stick. (It may be that installation is tied to your Apple ID used to install the disk.) Apple […]

  127. osterw says:

    hey guys,

    I just downloaded Lion and installed on my first macbook. Then I found this article. However, I cannot find “Install Mac OS X”. Any help?


  128. flash_johnny says:

    Thanks – fantastic walk-thro

    will try this forf my new vertex 3 max iops

  129. […] Once it was downloaded, I made sure to copy the install application to a thumb drive, so that I can install it on the desktop later without another hefty download. You’ll want to grab that before you actually install, as it appears to be gone afterwards. While I haven’t tried it yet, there’s plenty of instructions out there for installing from physical media – such as this one. […]

  130. Alexandre de Oliveira says:

    Hey, the file “Install Mac OS X” doesn’t exists. It existed before installing Lion. Now it’s gone.

    So? Should I have gone through this process before installing Lion?

    Thank you.

  131. Geoff says:

    Why is this procedure necessary to accomplish the objective (installing Lion on all of my computers without several downloads).
    The download process apparently puts a file in my /Applications folder. Why can’t I just copy this file to the /Applications folder of my other computers, and proceed from there as if the other computers had downloaded the file?

    • OSXDaily says:

      Yes you can do exactly that if all you want to do is upgrade those machines from Snow Leopard.

      • Joe says:

        A related Question:

        If you do the method in the original post, putting it on a USB flash drive, will this not require the mac app store user account to verify it and get future updates, as if it was bought on a disc in the first place?

        or will it still act as if it was downloaded from mac app store, and require that account to be signed in to authenticate it/update it?


  132. […] Lion installer contains a disk image hidden within it, and OS X Daily has got a suggestion on how to create a bootable Lion volume that you can put on a USB stick. (It may be that installation is tied to your Apple ID used to install the disk.) Apple […]

  133. DaveC951 says:

    Very sorry for the post above. I now see you have updated the instructions to be an 8Gb flash. Sorry – read it this morning and didn’t see the update.

  134. DaveC951 says:

    Great post. I did try with a 4.18 Gb flash. The Mac OS X Install ESD shows as 3.8 used of 4.18 Gb if you do a get info. Sadly, however, it will not restore to a 4.18 Gb flash drive. Sigh = off to the store for a 8 Gb flash.

  135. […] OSXDaily: Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive […]

  136. Rudy says:

    Hi, would I have trouble for updates in the future? or it will be just as normal as a purchased it? is this kind of illegal?

    • Matt says:

      No, as long as you are installing Lion on your own personal Macs, this is fine. Mac OS X Lion comes with a very generous personal license that allows you to install the OS on all of your personal Macs. This method just allows you to avoid downloading the entire package again.

  137. Rich says:

    I’m installing this way on my laptop (30 min left) and it seems to be working. However, if you don’t need/want a bootable drive for recovery etc, couldn’t you just copy the entire install package to the other computers application folder and double click to install?

    I almost tried that, because it would seem easier, but I would rather have the bootable thumb drive anyways.


  138. Left Clicker says:

    Dear Author,

    one thing I hated about Windows Freaks is that they always told people to use right clicks in Situations where it was unnecessary. No the same happens with Mac people as well.

    To restore an image to a medium, you don’t need to right click. Seriously, you don’t. When you select the medium in the list on the left (which you have), all you need to do is the tab that says “Restore”, and Disk Utility will offer you the same interface to restore the image to your medium. Judging by your screenshot, you had that tab *right before your eyes* but right-clicked anyway.

    Remember: there was a reason that Apple shipped one-button-mice until 5 years ago: right-clicks often complicate things in an unnecessary way and confuse people, especially beginners. Not everyone is a power user! That’s why I used to loath those Windows freaks. That’s why I still loath people who tell others to use right-clicks, when there’s a much simpler, less confusing way to do the same thing.

  139. andres says:


    Why is it necessary to make this whole mess?
    Is it to have a copy of the Lion software? Why is the reason.

    • Matt says:

      For most users this is not necessary, it just makes it easy to install on your other local Macs, allows for a clean install, and prevents redownloading.

  140. alex says:

    so I didn’t save the file and installed 10.7. now i can’t find the installer anywhere.
    anyone know if the file is still there or how I can redownload it from the appstore

  141. Jon says:

    If I follow the above but do it to DVD can I copy the DVD contents straight to a USB stick?

    I need to buy a USB stick but have a DVD handy!

  142. WebTrickz says:

    How to Install OS X Lion using a Bootable DVD or a USB Flash drive [Mac]…

    OS X Lion (v10.7) has been finally released, the upgrade is now available for download at Mac App Store for $29.99. The Lion upgrade has a pretty hefty size of 3.49 GB which can be downloaded only through Mac App Store. Although, you have the option to…

  143. Jeff says:

    I could not get it to work with a 4GB stick, says not enough space. I then looked at the Mac OS X Install ESD file size while in Disk Utility and it says it is 4.18GB (even though in finder it says it is 3.74GB). I guess I need an 8GB stick instead.

    • Matt says:

      Good to know, thanks and the post has been updated!

      • mischa says:


        it is possible to restore the DMG on a 4gb flash drive.

        I bought an imation 4gb stick, because I flew over the instructions, but as I read on a german site, it still is possible to get it on if you uncheck the box “erase destination”. at least it worked in my case, whereas it didn’t before when I’ve left it checked.

        • ben says:

          Thanks Mischa for the tip, I was able to make it work with a 4GB Kingston flash drive (DT 101) by turning off the erase option.

          • Rue says:

            As I asked mischa, can you please use it to install Lion first, then tell us if it actually works?

        • Rue says:

          Can you please use it to install Lion first? Please respond back and tell us if it actually works.

  144. lugesm says:

    brian says:
    July 20, 2011 at 7:42 am
    I heard that you have to copy the installer BEFORE you install it because once you install it, you’re going to lose that file. I just messed this up myself. I’m trying to re-download lion on my account but I get a weird message that says I have a NEWER version of this app already installed. What???


    • brian says:

      But the message doesn’t make sense. How can I have a newer version on my computer? I have Lion and I’m trying to re-download Lion.

      • Carl says:

        You have 11A511. The App Store version is 11A494. Slightly older version for the older Macs. 11A511 components are downloaded during the install process. See my comment to your other post about option-clicking.

  145. lugesm says:

    Correct, brian . . .

    DANG ! DANG ! DANG !

  146. brian says:

    I heard that you have to copy the installer BEFORE you install it because once you install it, you’re going to lose that file. I just messed this up myself. I’m trying to re-download lion on my account but I get a weird message that says I have a NEWER version of this app already installed. What???

  147. Mark says:

    This does not work for the version released through the app store as 10.7.0, there is no such install file left around. Maybe Apple adjusted the installer to prevent this? I am looking for a way to do this to install to my other machines as this iMac will be going back to Snow Leopard for the time being.

    • Jon says:

      You mean there is no DMG in the installer?

    • Matt says:

      Yes it does, look in /Applications/ right after you download from the Mac App Store

    • Dave B says:

      This DOES work with the “official” release that is downloaded from the app store. You HAVE to extract the dmg from the installer BEFORE you install. It is in the applications folder. “Install MAC OS X” It is 3.76 GB on disk. You can copy it to an external drive for safe keeping if you want.

      I now have a bootable 8GB USB drive with the Lion install on it.

  148. Darren says:

    Awesome little article/thread. Bookmarked for when I eventually update (about 6 months from now when the hardware/software that performs part of my music computer rig are all compatible)

  149. mafmmx says:

    These directions do NOT work.. there is no such file.. Might want to update you info….

    • Jon says:

      Are you saying there is no DMG in the installer?

    • Matt says:

      Yes, it does work. Read the instructions.

      The file is in /Applications/ after it is finished downloading from the Mac App Store

      • Walter says:

        I just installed OS X Lion, but in Applications there has no file Install Mac OS X been created. I don’t know where it could be hidden.

        • CK says:

          When you buy Lion from the App Store, “Install Mac OS X” is downloaded to your /Applications directory. You need to save a copy of that file somewhere, like to an external drive, because if you go ahead with the upgrade to Lion then the downloaded file will get deleted for some reason.

  150. John H says:

    Thank you for the helpful tip, i will be doing that for my mac mini. However it has only 1 GB of ram ( it’s running on 10.6.8 now ) so will Lion be working on 1GB of ram or i have to upgrade to 2GBs ?
    Thank you

  151. […] (good reads) Get Mac OS X Lion Without Exceeding Your Download Cap | Lifehacker Australia Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive Burn The Mac App Store Version Of OS X Lion To A DVD | Lifehacker […]

  152. Eric says:

    Could this be used to do a clean install of Lion onto a Lion-compatible Mac even if the Mac didn’t have Snow Leopard on it? In other words, is the Snow Leopard requirement solely because you need the Mac App Store to download Lion in the first place? So download Lion onto a Snow Leopard Mac, make the bootable install disk, then install on a Mac currently running Leopard?

  153. […] Thanks to OSX Daily. [1][2] […]

  154. christ says:

    is this possible to make that “installer” open in other mac device and install the Mac OS X Lion for free?

    • Matt says:

      I don’t understand your question. The generous personal license of OS X Lion allows for you to install Lion on all of your personal machines, so one $30 purchase gets your other personal Macs ‘free’ access to Lion as part of that license. Is that what you are asking?

      • christ says:

        thats what i mean. is that possible to do that? if its can happen, its possible to install the other Macs (not mine) with that usb stick?

        • Matt says:

          You can use the USB drive to install Lion on your other personal Macs, yes

          • Neal says:

            That is not what christ asked. He was asking if he could make a bootable USB stick and then install Lion onto any Mac… His friends, family, bloke down the road. You know, it’s called piracy, Matt.

  155. […] Make a bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion installer from a USB flash drive >> OSX Daily […]

  156. Robby says:

    I lost my OSX SL CD. Can I buy and download Lion on my MacBook Air, make a usb-stick like this, and then do a clean install with it on my iMac? Or will this usb stick only be useable on the machine I made it?

  157. beachballofdeath says:

    Do you live in the future osxdaily? how do you know this will work from the OSX lion release on the Mac Appstore? Are we assuming it will work like it has worked for other OSX releases? I guess it is a correct “guess”

    • AJ says:

      LOL, these walkthroughs were created with the Lion GM build, GM by it’s very nature is the shipping version.

      • Carl says:

        Not entirely true. The build downloaded from the App Store is 11A494 to support older Macs. Extra updates are downloaded to make it 11A511. The GM is 11A511.

        Also, Apple released a second GM build on either Leopard or Snow Leopard if I remember correctly. In that case, the first GM was not the shipping version.

        Just goes to show that a GM is not guaranteed to be the final release version, especially now that ‘Gold Master” (which refers to burning an install disc) isn’t exactly applicable. Generally speaking, however, you’re absolutely correct.

  158. Paul Skeldon says:

    Great instructions. Not tried it yet BUT just to be clear: if I pay my £20 for Lion on my macbook pro, I can put Lion OS on a USB and then install Lion again for free on my MacBook Air from it and it will just replace snow leopard on the air and turn the air into a Lion machine?

    • AJ says:

      Yes that is correct, you can choose to either upgrade Snow Leopard or perform a clean Lion install by using the USB drive method.

  159. […] OS X Daily’s instructions to make a USB Installation stick […]

  160. Mark says:

    Hi guys,

    Will this allow me to do an upgrade on all my machines instead of a clean install?

    Thanks a lot,

    • knoddix says:

      you will be able to do an upgrade using this method
      on your macs as long as they have core 2 duo or
      newer intel processor 2gb of ram or more 8 + gb of hard
      drive space free I would recommend 40gb + free for
      best performance and even though you have downloaded
      lion using a Mac other than you are installing it on the installer
      will still insist you have to be running 10.6.6 or later
      and will not proceed with the upgrade unless you are running
      10.6.6 or later

  161. […] note: Personally I find it easier to create and use a Lion install USB drive or even a home-made Lion installation DVD, if you have access to a USB key or DVD burner those […]

  162. Curious says:

    Is it possible to use this method and do it to an External Hard Drive as well?

    Is it also possible to do this method and use it as a Hackintosh?

    • Dana says:

      Hackintosh is an unsupported Apple venture.

      This should work with any external hard drive with the size of 8 GB or larger.

      you can make your external hard drive into multiple partitions: one of which can be 8GB in size. make sure you set the partitions to GUID under the options or else it won’t boot with the intel based macs.

  163. Mike says:

    Followed your instruction and it worked like a charm. BTW, I used a usb hdd instead of the stick. Thanx a lot.

  164. […] Here is a great article on how to install Lion if you do not want to download it on every mac in your house or business from the AppStore. […]

  165. Håvard says:

    Hi. Do I have to do this BEFORE i install Lion on my Mac?

    • OSXDaily says:

      No, absolutely not. This is for people who want to create their own bootable USB install drive.

      • mark says:

        Hi there, I just installed lion from the app store on my air, but now cannot find that lion install dmg in the applications folder. Is it a hidden file? Spotlight can’t find it for me either

    • Bubba says:

      Yes, you have to do this BEFORE you install Lion. The last thing the installer does is DELETE the installer. You won’t be able to find the InstallESD.dmg after you install because it doesn’t exist anymore after you finish the install.

      • Carl says:

        Only partly true. Yes, Lion deletes the installer when finished, but you can always option-click “Purchases” and then option-click the Lion installer to download it again. Not ideal, but a helpful option if you’ve come to this tutorial post-install.

        • Nicholas says:

          If you have the foresight to let Time Machine perform a full backup of your Mac before running the Lion installer (but after it has downloaded from the App Store) then you can skip re-downloading the 4Gb file. Just go to Time Machine, visit your Applications folder, find the TM backup with the Lion installer (Install Mac OS X Lion) and restore it. Ta-da! ;)

  166. dvkch says:

    Just a lil question : why is there some way to connect to a wireless network in your EFI ? is that available on new iMacs or what ? Thx

    • Kapilan says:

      This is an option on MacBook Airs. It was done because these machines don’t have a cd drive. U can install apps wirelessly using another computer’s cd drive as well.

      • dvkch says:

        Thanks ! Never heard about it, pretty useful information indeed ! ;)

      • jeremy says:

        it’s actually used so that you may connect to a wireless network and then “net-boot”. This is usually used for connecting to a server and/or remote imaging of your computer…its not for installing “apps”. You can use another mac’s disc drive over the network, but that is done from within the OS….the screen shown above is at the firmware OS.

    • knoddix says:

      it was added so that people could connect
      to their wifi network when needing to
      boot to Os x lion Internet recovery I.e if
      your Mac won’t boot and you don’t have
      a another working Os x lion recovery option
      such as the recovery HD p.s Internet recovery is
      accessible by holding command and
      option and the letter r when you first turn on
      a Mac brought out in 2011 and later the
      only catch is with some 2011 models they
      require the newest firmware update to allow this

  167. Nick says:

    This works well, only the Recovery Partition is not created this way (this makes it impossible to use FileVault 2 for example)
    You’ll have to reinstall over the Lion installation with the official Installer…

    • Stef says:

      I am looking to install lion as a fresh install , one of the main reasons is filevault 2. What happens when i reinstall over the top how does that work? does that mean its no longer a clean install?

      Appreciate the time for the reply.

      • knoddix says:

        installing over the top would be considered
        an upgrade rather than a clean install
        now this method is a quicker method for the most
        part as you do not have to install your favorite
        apps again or add your personal settings to mail for example
        how ever the percentage of upgrade installations that either
        fail or have issues after installation is higher than the

        • knoddix says:

          percentage experienced from clean installations
          with all that taken into account I would recommend
          a clean installation but do keep in mind when upgrading
          updating or changing or installing software the chance of
          encountering issues is likely no matter how you go about
          doing it

  168. Cam says:

    Is this bootable Lion image something that you can use as an emergency repair disk by adding things like DiskWarrior and TechTools Pro (when they are lion certified)? Or is this bootable image only capable of booting and installing Lion?

    On the same topic, if my assumption is incorrect, would my solution be to wait for DasBoot to be lion certified or to install of SL on a new partition, put on lion, slim it all down, and clone it to a thumb drive?

  169. […] out this post on OS X Daily, it covers exactly how to do this. Related Posts:Mac OSX 10.7 Lion – Preview […]

  170. David B. Haun says:

    The image needs to be scanned first.

  171. PsychoX says:

    When I did my Snow Leopard upgrade I had a separate partition on the same hard drive setup as a bootable disk. It worked perfectly and I was able to keep all my existing files.

  172. […] 記事元: Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive, […]

  173. Josh says:

    A much easier way to do this is by using Carbon Copy Cloner.

    1. Mount the InstallESB.dmg file.
    2. Plug in the USB drive; format it to HFS+ Journaled with Disk Utility
    3. Open Carbon Copy Cloner and select the InstallESB mount as the source and the USB mount as the destination.

    10x easier … and always works!

    • Carl says:

      As in, exactly as many steps as above? Just because he spelled it out, doesn’t mean it’s slower than CCC. Here’re your directions reworked using the above:

      1. Mount the InstallESB.dmg file.
      2. Plug in the USB drive; format it to HFS+ Journaled with Disk Utility
      3. Select “restore” in Disk Itility and select the InstallESB mount as the source and the USB mount as the destination.

      Just as easy* … and always works!

      *Your method is actually harder because it requires downloading and/or opening CCC.

      • Rue says:

        But your way doesn’t work for 4GB USB drives. Please try it first and respond back.

        • Dana says:

          4GB? seriously have you looked at the file size of Snow Leopard Or Lion? you need 8GB min.

          • vegar says:

            CCC rocks! I did not have quite enough space on my 4GB drive for Lion, but with CCC I could opt not to copy some of the packages (I skipped all the languages which do not interest me) and voila it fits!

            Muchas gracias!

    • Albert Kinng says:

      Yep. CCC is the nest way to go.
      I try to follow instructions and when I did the double click on the USB inside the Disk Utility I didn’t get the restore option as the screenshot… with CCC you just select source and destination and you get a bootable USB. It’s that great! I didn’t knew about CCC until I read this article (your response)! thx!

  174. wdf says:


  175. Marcus says:

    Partitioning an external USB hard drive (Firewire and Thunderbolt too) and restoring the Lion.dmg to that partition works as well.

  176. haymoose says:

    I have done this for Snow Leopard. If you are impatient and live near best buy, I use the EasyStore 4 GB USB drive, it is very low profile, not as thin as the Apple unit, but nice and cased in metal!

    $7.99 where I live:

    • Brian says:

      How do you do it for Snow Leopard on a USB Drive?

      • AJ says:

        The same way as this guide, however you can just clone directly from the Snow Leopard DVD to a USB drive using Disk Utility or a third party utility like Carbon Copy Cloner.

  177. BP says:

    Great tip man. I liked the one on the DVD and this is even better.

  178. tokyojerry says:

    Alternatively you can use an inexpensive 8 or 16GB SD or MicroSD card to do the same thing. Just choose the SD card in lieu of the USB drive stick in the instructions here and follow accordingly.

    I usually buy / use only memory cards these days because they have performance ratings (i.e., Class 2, 4, 6, 10) and you know the quality of speed performance you are getting. With a USB stick…. you usually don’t have a clue as to the quality and speed of the memory incorporated into the stick. The SD memory card can be used in a cheap SD to USB converter adaptor, thus, becoming a USB stick if that is preferred. (i.e., 13″ Macbook Airs have SD slots whereas the smaller one does not. The SD memory card then has greater utility. It can be used as a USB stick, it can be used in a camera, and if MicroSD then in mobile phones in the case a phone supports MicroSD. And, knowing that I have a class 6 or class 10 SD card, I also have the reassurance I can capture HD video on the camera without any problems when used to capture HD video. Just an alternative idea.

  179. Brian says:

    Did this work on the Gold Master that was released last week since it was suppose to be the last update to OSX Lion before they let us download next week. Hopefully!

    • AJ says:

      Yes, this guide was written using Lion GM from the App Store

      • Yousif Anwar says:

        Hi there,

        I cant find the “SharedSupport” folder in GM, help please!

        • M says:

          Right-click on Install Mac OS X > Show Package Contents > Contents > SharedSupport

          • Tricky Business says:

            Is it perhaps possible that the installer / installESD.dmg was deleted after installation? I’ve searched my disk but i can’t find the file in question…?!

          • knoddix says:

            after lion is installed the lion app will disappear from your
            apps folder you basically have to extract the installesd.dmg
            before you or the Mac restarts to complete the lion installation
            alternatively you can purchase lion 10.7.0 on USB rom drive
            from the apple site or apple store for 75 aud yes is a little
            more costly but it gives the security that no one can format
            the drive on you making it a good alternative

  180. Joseph says:

    Can I do this for Snow Leopard instead?

    • Angga says:

      Yes you can, I’ve been doing this method since Snow Leopard.

      • Andrey says:

        Can you burn me a copy of (both) Snow Leopard and Lion? I’m about to get a Mac soon and I can’t afford both for Parallels Desktop. Why do I need Snow Lepoard? Snow leopard for Lion’s Parallel Desktop :D (in case if I won’t like Lion)

        • AJ says:

          You’re in luck because new Macs get Lion for free.

        • d0ta2008 says:

          Dude it’s $30, if you can buy a Mac you can spend $30 to buy the OS. Don’t be a turd.

          • Bones says:

            I know this is way old, but I love the philosophy, seriously you spent a thousand dollars on a computer spend thirty bucks on an OS!

        • Dan says:

          Skip Parallels and get VirtualBox, it’s free and works great.

          • Mark says:

            So, VirtualBox may be free but it has some draw backs. If your laptop gets power off and the VM is running, you will lose it with no hope of getting it back.

            I have used VirtualBox, VM Fusion and Parallels. Parallels is by far the best of the three. Download the trails and see yourself before you make a decision. Also, look on their respectable web site and compare each was well.

            I think you will find Parallels the best of the three. Also, they have education pricing which is half the retail cost.

        • Jonny says:

          this post srsly gets uploaded to r/choosingbeggars xD buys expensive Mac and can’t “afford” a 30 bucks OS xD

      • chris says:

        Yah it works.

    • AJ says:

      Yup, you can do this with all versions of OS X as long as you have a dmg to restore from.

    • PsychoX says:

      You would need a larger flashdrive however, I believe at least an 8gb.

      • Hofi says:

        you can also partition a 32 GB USB stick into 4 parts and make each a bootable partition. Just be sure you use “Journaled” and “GUID partition table”

    • David B. Haun says:

      What Partition Map did you use?

      • Strawberry says:

        GUID is what you should use for any partition you want to be bootable (Intel) but I think it will just completely wipe the space and install it from the disk image.

    • thanks so much it works just fine

    • Jose says:

      I have a late 2007 MacBook and I bought it off someone and I reset the computer and I can’t get the software back in it. I have downloaded the software on my iMac but since my MacBook isn’t running I can’t use it to get the installESD.dmg to mount on to it. I really want to get this laptop back up and running but I know little about apple. I hope to hear from someone that can help me out. is it possible to email that installESD.dmg so I can put it on my usb and mount it that way?

Leave a Reply


Shop on and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks


iPhone / iPad



Shop on Amazon to help support this site