Unsolicited Question: Mac OS X El Capitan Bootable USB media

As with Linux and Windows machines, it's always a good idea to have bootable operating system install media for your PC even if you're running Mac OS X El Capitan and you downloaded the OS from the App Store or recently purchased a Mac. Apple Support provides a pretty good article on their support page for creating a bootable USB stick for reinstalling El Capitan, but leaves out a few details.

Note: This article uses a Macbook Air (2015) with OS X El Capitan and a generic 8 GB USB stick.

To create an OS X El Capitan bootable USB stick:

1. Log on to the App Store and search for OS X El Capitan. Click Download. As of this writing, the OS is roughly 6 GB in size.


2. Once download is complete, verify that OS X El Capitan is added to your Applications folder in Finder.


3. Connect a USB flash drive to a USB port on your Mac. For OS X El Capitan, 8 GB or more of available storage is recommended.

4. Check the mount path of the USB flash drive by launching Disk Utility. In this example, the mount path is at /Volumes/DISK_IMG.


5. Launch Terminal and run the createinstallmedia command. With OS X El Capitan located in the Applications folder and the mount path of the flash drive at /Volumes/DISK_IMG, the full command is:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/DISK_IMG --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app

For more details on the command, refer to https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201372.

6. Input your user password.

7. Enter Y to erase the USB Flash drive and begin copying OS X.


Note: Copying Mac OS X El Capitan to the USB flash drive took roughly 20-25 minutes. No progress is displayed in Terminal during the process.

8. Once the process is complete, verify the functionality of your USB bootable media by rebooting your Mac and holding down the Option button. Startup Manager should list Install OS X El Capitan as one of the options.


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