How to Create a Bootable Install Drive for macOS High Sierra

Sep 27, 2017 - 48 Comments

How to make a macOS High Sierra USB boot installer drive

Some Mac uses like to create a bootable USB installer drive for macOS High Sierra. A bootable install volume of macOS 10.13 allows users to perform a variety of tasks including formatting and clean installs, updating multiple Macs from the same USB flash drive installer (and without re downloading), and to use as a troubleshooting boot drive should the need arise, amongst other benefits for advanced and more technical users.

This walkthrough will detail how to make a bootable USB install drive for macOS High Sierra.

Requirements to Create a macOS High Sierra Bootable USB Installer

To create a functioning macOS High Sierra installer boot drive, you will need the following:

Beyond that you’ll just need a bit of patience and a bit of technical know-how or comfort following technical instructions. Making a USB install drive requires the usage of precise syntax at the command line with superuser privileges, using the wrong syntax could lead to unintended data loss.

How to Make a Bootable USB Installer for macOS High Sierra

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to the Mac, if you need to format it go ahead and do so
  2. Download macOS High Sierra installer application from the App Store* and be sure the complete installer is located in the /Applications/ directory
  3. When the installer has completed downloading, it will automatically launch – quit out of the installer when this occurs
  4. Open the “Terminal” application found in /Applications/Utilities/ directory on the Mac
  5. Enter the following command syntax at the command line, replacing “UNTITLED” with your USB drive name if necessary:
  6. sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ --volume /Volumes/UNTITLED && say Boot Installer Complete

  7. Confirm the syntax is exactly as written, then hit the RETURN key and enter the administrator password to start making the High Sierra installer drive *
  8. command syntax to create macOS High Sierra boot installer

  9. Let the installer complete, when finished you will be informed that the process has completed

Once you have created the USB boot installer drive for macOS High Sierra, you can either launch it immediately to install macOS High Sierra on the current Mac, reboot and startup from the USB installer drive, or eject it and use it on another Mac.

* Note: if you are getting a “command not found” error and you are certain your syntax is correct, be sure to check the file size of the “Install macOS High” as found in the /Applications folder. If the file size of the High Sierra installer is not over 5GB then you have the incomplete installer and will need to download the complete macOS High Sierra installer application as described here in order to create a bootable installer drive.

Booting from the macOS High Sierra USB Installer Drive

With the newly created macOS High Sierra USB installer drive connected to the Mac, reboot the computer. Immediately on reboot, start holding down the “OPTION” (ALT) key to load the boot menu. Select the High Sierra installer at this screen.

Choosing the macOS High Sierra boot installer

Once booted from the USB drive you can proceed with installing macOS High Sierra, using the Disk Utility tools to format or erase a volume, work with Time Machine, and other similar tasks.

MacOS High Sierra installer

If you had previously created a boot installer for the High Sierra beta you may notice the syntax is different for createinstallmedia is different with the final version, part of that is to accommodate the new file name of the application installer, and the remainder removes the necessity of the –applicationpath flag and directive.

Keep in mind that macOS High Sierra can only be installed onto supported hardware, if you’re uncertain whether or not a particular computer supports the release you can check this list of macOS High Sierra compatible Macs.

Do you know of another approach to making a macOS High Sierra bootable install drive? Do you have an easier method, or do you have any particular tricks related to this process? Let us know in the comments.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Pelham Higgins says:

    I have a Mac mini late 2012 edition which I have upgraded a few times with more RAM and SSDs. It worked fantastically until recently when I was trying to upgrade the macOS and in the process lost my original macOS, but I still have all my data on a backup Time Machine disc… The problem is I cannot recover my original macOS via one of the recovery options because Apple doesn’t offer that macOS any more! Can you help me create a new bootable drive so I can get any macOS operating on it again, please!??

  2. David GB says:

    It just works thanks.
    It’s a bit of a fiddle getting everything precisely correct but once you’ve done that it’s all good.

  3. Milo Madacky says:

    what a pile of bs. no answer to how to make it with the older version of OS on another mac ??? all this is just blah, blah blah. The typical quality of a geek: can not make things easy

  4. David says:

    It’s working fine.

  5. David says:

    Thanks for your detailed work through. It’s working fine.

  6. Minea says:

    Does this work if you have a macOS patcher? Specifically Catalina

  7. Adam says:

    Hi guys. I used this method on my old Mac that ‘died’ last week. I run everything as described, and after the full install, it just launches back to macOS utilities. Has anyone had this before, or know a way around it? Cheers! Adam

  8. Ed Arnold says:

    Diskmaker X fell flat on its face when I tried to make a High Sierra install drive on my iMac running Mojave. And typing in the createinstallmedia command is like having a root canal! This short shell script is easier:

    # make macos install thumb drive on Volume (default High Sierra)
    # takes about 6 minutes on a 4-core iMac

    AppHome=’/Applications/Install macOS High’ #default High Sierra
    Volume=’/Volumes/NO NAME’ #default SanDisk

    echo “To accept a default in parenthesis, enter RETURN at prompt.”
    echo -n “Enter pathname of install image ($AppHome):”
    read line
    if [ “$line” != “” ]; then AppHome=”$line”; fi
    echo -n “Enter pathname of volume ($Volume):”
    read line
    if [ “$line” != “” ]; then Volume=”$line”; fi

    sudo “$AppHome”/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume “$Volume” –applicationpath “$AppHome”

  9. DaBski says:

    Thank you so much for posting these instructions! My roommate had his 2012 Macbook Pro Hard Drive go kaput w/o a Time Machine Backup (only had Mountain Lion on the restore options…..uggh). Via your assist, I was able to get Mac OS High Sierra on a USB drive, placed a new physical hard drive in his MacBook, and booted/installed from the USB to SSD. Your instructions are spot on. Much appreciated!!

  10. KewlWM says:

    Use these instructions instead. Direct from Apple and worked perfectly. Note the way the USB needs to be formatted.

    • Pete says:

      So when I did this to create a bootable Mojave usb installer it formatted the usb flash drive as APFS!
      Older macs here will not boot off it. Is their a way to force the installer to use HFS+?

  11. Randy says:

    Hey, mine wasn’t working. I dragged the USB drive into terminal window and found out it was actual showing up in terminal as UNTITLED 1 so i needed to add a backslash and a space and 1 for it to work.

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –volume /Volumes/UNTITLED\ 1 && say Boot Installer Complete

  12. iRay says:

    It just keeps coming back with: command not found

    I don’t get it. I triple checked it ten times.

    I use the command below but it will just not work :-(

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –volume /Volumes/HighSierraInstall

    • Jyrkki says:

      This probably means that your installer is not located in the Applications folder (see Daniele’s comment).

      You can run “sudo find / -name Install\ macOS\ High\” to find the location of your installer.

    • Jyrkki says:

      This probably means that your installer is not located in the Applications folder (see Daniele’s comment).

      You can run “sudo find / -name Install\ macOS\ High\” to find the location of your installer.

  13. mark says:

    will pages app be part of install? Do you have to re-download from App Store? (included with the installer or not)

  14. ali says:

    APFS disks may not be used as bootable install media.

  15. Hi.

    It worked for me.

    I installed High Sierra over Sierra, over El Capitan, over Yosemite and over Maverick. This last one was the last clean installation.

    It’s time to a new fresh and clean installation.

    Thanks for your tips!

  16. Alex says:

    The name of the usb volume needs to match the command or else you get the not found

  17. Ravi says:

    I have the high sierra final version 5.17 GB in applications folder. but when I copy paste the sudo command, Terminal error that “sudo: /Applications/Install macOS High command not found”

    I tried right click on the installer app, and I don’t see the ‘view package contents’ option. I downloaded this version from the macos patcher app website. Any suggestions to get the boot installer setup on the USB?

  18. Piotr says:

    The disk is created and contains the copied install image but it is not bootable, rebooting with Option key doesn’t work, any idea why?

  19. Larry says:

    keep getting message
    This tool must be run as root.


    • HABlet says:

      Run it as root, perhaps ?
      Enter sudo before the rest of the command e.g sudo
      createinstallmedia {etc}
      When it asks for a password, enter the password for the account you are currently using.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The USB needs to be formatted as EXFAT. Took a while to figure out what type was needed.

    • obi wan says:

      No, the USB drive gets formatted as HFS+, which is the Mac file system before AFPS. The drive gets formatted upon running the command to create the High Sierra installer.

  21. ungars says:

    See options :

    Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –usage

    /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –usage

  22. ungars says:

    To prevent APFS :

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –agreetolicense –converttoapfs NO –nointeraction

  23. Carlo says:

    How many minutes will it take to make a high sierra bootable USB drive?

  24. Souza says:

    It’s difficult, very difficult here.
    I can not make the disk in any way, either through Terminal, DiskMaker X, Install Disk Creator or Boot Buddy.
    Boot Buddy can prepare the USB, but does not boot. All other modes gives error and does not finish preparing the USB.

    From the Terminal I get this message: “Failed to copy kernelcache,” prelinkedkernel “could not be copied to” .IABootFiles “

  25. Rubik says:

    Why does the usb need to be 16 GB? The whole installer package is less than 6, so a 8 GB one should be more than enough.

  26. Elden says:

    It would be kind of nice if the article specified which file system to use when formatting the USB stick, since there are a number of choices.

  27. Christopher says:

    createinstallmedia prompts for verification of the format action. Add –nointeraction switch to avoid the prompt.

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –nointeraction –volume /Volumes/UNTITLED && say Boot Installer Complete

  28. Lee says:

    Don’t bother, 10.13 is a beta. Video driver problems with Mac minis, mail problems, OS X “Server” is a joke, it should have been called OS X Low Sierra

  29. Karl gilmore says:

    Does the usb stuck have to be ssd in the new format afps or can it be formatted in hfs+ sunce it isn’t an ssd ?

  30. Low Jiunn Yik says:

    For those Mac which could not download complete macOS High Sierra installer application could be cause by old Mac which not supported by macOS High Sierra

  31. Steve says:

    8 GB is plenty. My bootable drive used 5.24 GB.

  32. Carlos says:

    sorry i didn’t worked

    • Carlos says:

      I followed this instructions and it worked fine:

      Downloaded final version of MacOS High Sierra.

      Connect the USB flash drive to the Mac, rename the drive to “HighSierra” for easy identification – remember the USB drive will be formatted and erased to become the High Sierra installer.

      Open the Terminal application in Mac OS, located in /Applications/Utilities/
      Enter the following command syntax exactly:
      For MacOS High Sierra Final Version:
      sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –volume /Volumes/HighSierra –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –nointeraction &&say Boot drive created

  33. Carlos says:

    This worked for me.
    Name your usb: HighSierra
    Enter the following command syntax at the command line: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –volume /Volumes/HighSierra –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ –nointeraction &&say Boot drive created

    • Daniele says:

      Worked for me too, after having struggled a bit. A problem I could not think of was that my Sierra file was not in the applications folder after the download and this made all the process to not work. Just moved it into the applications folder and the process worked like a charm

      • Brent says:

        No need to move the .app file to the applications folder.
        I just ran it from where it downloaded.

        sudo ./createinstallmedia …

    • Noni says:

      Thank you for this, Carlos! I don’t know if I could have found this syntax anywhere else, so you really helped me a lot!

  34. Michael says:


    First three words:

    Some Mac uses

    Should be:

    Some Mac users

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