How to create macOS 10.12 Sierra bootable installation flash drive

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Install clean macOS Sierra from USB

macOS Sierra 10.12 (previously known as OS X) was released in September 2016 as an update available through the App Store. You do not need to worry, much like in the case of previous updates, your user data as well as system settings and installed applications will be preserver when you update your OS.

However, some users might prefer to mae a clean installation of macOS Sierra and for that you will need to create a bootable installation USB drive. This article covers several ways how you can achieve this.

Four ways how to create macOS Sierra USB installation flash drive

First step - Get OS X Sierra installation app and prepare USB flash drive

Download macOS Sierra installer (Install macOS Sierra.app in Applications folder) from Mac App Store.

macOS 10.12 Sierra in App Store

Prepare a USB flash drive with the Apple Disk Utility. If you did not already, you will have to format the USB drive with GUID Partition Table scheme selected and name it as Untitled. The minimal capacity of USB drive must be of at least 8 GB.

Apple Disk Utility prepare USB drive

How to create macOS Sierra installation USB flash drive with createinstallmedia tool

The createinstallmedia is a command line tool, which allows users to simply create installation drive, distributed with macOS Sierra installer.

When you have prepared your USB flash drive and the macOS Sierra Installer is downloaded from the App Store ► open Terminal and type command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app --nointeraction &&say Done

In our case "Untitled" is the name of USB flash drive! Replace "Untitled" by name of your flash drive.

Wait a few minutes until your macOS Sierra installation USB drive is ready.

create macOS Sierra installation USB drive with createinstallmedia tool

To install macOS Sierra ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

How to create macOS Sierra installation USB flash drive with Terminal

When your USB flash drive is ready and macOS Sierra installer downloaded from the App Store ► Open Terminal and type the following sequence of commands:

sudo hdiutil attach /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg

sudo asr restore -source /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.dmg -target /Volumes/Untitled -erase -format HFS+

sudo rm /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System/System/Installation/Packages

sudo cp -a /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/Packages /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System/System/Installation/Packages

sudo cp -a /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.chunklist /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System

sudo cp -a /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.chunklist /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System

sudo cp -a /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.dmg /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System

hdiutil detach /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD

Now wait until your bootable installation flash drive with macOS 10.12 Sierra is made.

create macOS Sierra USB installation with Terminal commands

To install macOS Sierra ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

How to create macOS Sierra installation USB flash drive with Disk Utility and Finder

When your USB flash drive is ready and macOS Sierra installer downloaded from the App Store ► Open Terminal and type:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles 1 && killall Finder

This command allows you to view hidden files in Finder.

Now Open Finder ► Applications ► Install macOS Sierra.app ► right click ► Select Show Package Contents option.

Apple Finder show package contents

Navigate to Contents/SharedSupport ► Mount InstallESD.dmg file

Finder installesd.dmg file

Open OS X (even thought the system it's caled macOS now) Install ESD archive in Finder and mount BaseSystem.dmg archive
Finder basesystem.dmg file

Connect USB drive and open Disk Utility (/Applications/Utilities)

Select the USB drive from the list of disks, click on Restore icon and use OS X Base System option as a source. When ready click on Restore button.

Apple Disk Utility restore USB flash drive

After the Restore process is finished, open Finder ► open USB drive (OS X Base System) ► go to the System/Installation folder and select Packages file and delete it.

Finder System/Installation folder

Open OS X Install ESD volume in Finder, select Packages folder and copy them to System/Installation folder on USB drive.

Finder copy installation packages

Also copy BaseSystem.chunklist and BaseSystem.dmg files from InstallESD.dmg volume to root of USB flash drive (OS X Base System).

Finder copy installation packages from disk to usb

Now your macOS Sierra installation USB drive is prepared and ready for use.

To install macOS Sierra ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

How to create macOS Sierra installation USB flash drive with DiskMaker X

DiskMaker X tool is Wizard like tool that allows you create macOS installation disk. Download DiskMaker X to your Mac and copy it to Applications folder.

When you have prepared your USB flash drive and macOS Sierra installer is downloaded from App Store ► open DiskMaker X.

Select version of macOS (in our case macOS Sierra).

DiskMaker X

Select copy of macOS installation app.

DiskMaker X select system

Select USB drive that will be used for USB installation.

DiskMaker X select USB

And wait a few minutes till the the DiskMaker X finish creating process. Information about progress are viewable in Notification center.

DiskMaker X notifications

To install macOS Sierra ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

Related software and links:

Apple Disk Utility icon

Apple Disk Utility    Apple macOS / Mac OS X platform
A disk mounting utility from Mac OS X

 
Apple Finder icon

Apple Finder    Apple macOS / Mac OS X platform
Default file manager in macOS

 
macOS icon

macOS    Apple macOS / Mac OS X platform
A Unix-based desktop operating system for Apple Mac computers

 

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