How to create OS X 10.11 El Capitan bootable installation flash drive

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Introduction

Apple officially released OS X 10.11 El Capitan operating system in September 2015 as an update through Apple App Store. This actualization will update core of your system and preserve your user data.

However, if you want to have a clean installation of El Capitan on your Mac you will need to create a special installation USB drive and in this article we will show you how.

Four ways how to create El Capitan USB installation flash drive:

Preparation - get OS X El Capitan installer and USB flash drive

Download El Capitan installer (Install OS X El Capitan.app in Applications folder) available in Mac App Store.

OS X El Capitan in App Store

Prepare a flash drive with OS X Disk Utility. Format it with GUID Partition Table and name it as Untitled. The minimal capacity of flash drive must be 8 GB.

Disk Utility

How to create El Capitan installation USB drive with createinstallmedia tool

The createinstallmedia is a command line tool distributed with OS X installer.

When you have prepared your USB flash drive and El Capitan installer is downloaded from App Store ► open Terminal and type command:

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

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

Wait a few minutes and your El Capitan installation USB drive will be prepared.

createinstallmedia tool for OS X

To install OS X El Capitan ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

How to create El Capitan USB installation with Terminal commands

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

sudo hdiutil attach /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.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 OS X 10.11 El Capitan is made.

OS X El Capitan installation in Terminal

To install OS X El Capitan ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

How to create El Capitan USB installation with Disk Utility and Finder

When your USB flash drive is ready and El Capitan installer downloaded from 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 OS X El Capitan.app ► right click ► Select Show Package Contents option.

Finder show package content

Navigate to Contents/SharedSupport ► Mount InstallESD.dmg file

Install ESD file

Open OS X Install ESD archive in Finder and mount BaseSystem.dmg archive

BaseSystem archive

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

Select the USB drive from the list of disks, select Restore tab and pick Select OS X Base System archive as a source and USB flash drive as the destination. When ready click on Restore button.

Disk Utility copy files

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.

OS X System Installation folder

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

OS X El Capitan Packages

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

El Capitan packages to USB

Now your El Capitan installation USB drive is prepared and ready for use.

To install OS X El Capitan ► restart computer ► hold the Option key and select Installation USB drive from the menu.

How to create El Capitan USB installation disk with DiskMaker X

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

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

Select version of OS X (in our case El Capitan)

DiskMaker X select installation file

Select copy of OS X installation app

DiskMaker X installation file

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.

DiskMaker X preparation process

To install OS X El Capitan ► 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

 
Mac OS X icon

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

 

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