How To Create OS X El Capitan startup disks

Want a clean install on your Mac? Or do you want to quickly install OS X El Capitan on multiple Macs? In that case, you’ll need a startup disk with the installation of OS X El Capitan. In this article, you can read how to turn a USB stick or external hard drive (of at least 8 GB) into such a startup disk.

What you need: a USB stick or other storage medium with at least 8 GB of free space. Make sure the disk or partition you are going to use is empty.

Pay attention: giving your Mac a clean install will delete all your files. So make a backup with TimeMachine first!

Boot disk with installation OS X El Capitan

  • Download OS X El Capitan from the Mac App Store.
  • During the download you have time to format and rename the USB stick or external drive. Open Disk Utility, select the USB stick or disk and erase it with the format “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” and the name “ElCapitan” (without quotes).
  • Ready to download? Close the open installation. The OS X El Capitan installation is now stored in the Applications folder.
  • Open Terminal and run the command below. The easiest method is to copy this command (Cmd+C) and paste it into Terminal (Cmd+V):
  • sudo /Applications/Install OS X El –volume /Volumes/ElCapitan –applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X El –nointeraction
  • Press Enter and enter your password. You will not see this password appear, but type firmly and press Enter.
  • Grab a cup of coffee afterwards, as this process can take a while. Only when you see ‘Copy complete. Done’, you are done and you can close Terminal.

Ready? Your USB stick or external hard drive is now a boot drive with the installation of OS X El Capitan. Restart the Mac and hold the Alt button. The startup disk you created will then appear next to the hard disk (or disks).

If you want to perform a clean install of OS X El Capitan, select the startup disk and then choose ‘Disk Utility’. From here you can erase your hard drive (make sure you’ve made a backup!) and then run the OS X El Capitan installation. After the first part of the installation is complete, your Mac will reboot. You may then need to hold down the Alt button again and choose OS X Installer as the startup disk to complete the installation. This was done on a test machine for us.