Disk Drill 3 is now capable of creating your own bootable Mac OS X USB drives for data recovery. Chances are, the Mac with the disk, where the data was lost, will be able to start from the boot drive created. We officially recommend running data recovery on your startup disk ONLY when your Mac is booted from a different drive, using external docking stations, or Disk Drill's own bootable data recovery freeware. OS X 10.9.x-15 required as a source of system files.
The initial recommendation given to anyone who lost important data and would like to proceed with the data recovery is always to stop using the drive where the data was stored as soon as possible. You can turn your computer off, remove the drive in question from the docking station, do whatever may be required to prevent any further utilization of that drive. Set it aside, calm down and download a bootable data recovery app using any other computer. Disk Drill is by far the most convenient and up-to-date macOS bootable file rescue solution. It'll make your Mac boot from USB in just a few clicks.
Starting with Disk Drill 3, anyone can create a bootable Mac OS X drive in a matter of minutes. Make sure you have an extra storage device, which is at least 2GB in size. Connect it to any Mac, run Disk Drill and use the "Create Boot Drive" option on the main toolbar.
Disk Drill let's you run all its data recovery algorithms via a bootable Mac USB drive. This ensures the maximum amount of data stays intact during the recovery process, and other background processes or the operating system itself do not overwrite any recoverable pieces of information. Please note: Disk Drill does not provide any option to create bootable CD/DVD drives due to them becoming less popular and accessible in modern computers.
1. Download and Install Disk Drill on any computer
Data recovery cannot always be done on a running system. It's always a smart move to reboot using Disk Drill's Data Recovery Boot Drive and proceed from the minimal OS X boot from USB. Make sure the drive with lost data is completely disconnected. Get to any Mac, and download free Disk Drill. Install and launch it. Choose "Create Boot Drive" from the main list of available tools and follow the instructions.
Download Disk Drill
Drag to Applications Folder
Launch Disk Drill
2. Connect a USB drive
So, you are ready to increase your data recovery chances and would like to make sure you restore every file and folder. You are on the right track! Get any extra USB drive or external disk, connect it to your Mac, and get ready to convert it into a bootable data recovery kit.
3. Make a bootable drive for Mac
To create a bootable Mac drive you need any disk with Mac OS X 10.11.0 El Capitan or newer (10.12 Sierra, 10.13 High Sierra, 10.14 Mojave, 10.15 Catalina) either running as your main system, or just being installed on a drive that's connected to your Mac at the moment. Go to "Create Boot Drive" feature, and choose the drive you would like to copy the OS X system files from to the new drive that we are building. Once the source disk is selected, proceed with choosing the destination to make a USB bootable drive.
4. Aid in recovering your main disk
Thanks to the bootable USB drive you just made with Disk Drill, you can now safely recover Mac data from any startup disk that is already unmounted to prevent any further data loss.
Disk Drill's data recovery boot disk is also an ideal solution when systems with deleted data that needs to be recovered fail to boot from the internal drive. Once your Mac USB bootable drive is created, you are ready for data recovery at any time.
Insert the newly created bootable drive into the Mac where the lost data still resides. Reboot it holding down the Option (⌥) key. The list of available drives to boot from will be displayed. The one you created at previous steps that provides you with data recovery capabilities is called "Disk Drill Recovery". Go ahead, select it and boot your Mac up. Disk Drill software is already preloaded into the system that loads. Just run it as you regularly would to recover the lost data.
Make sure you try all available data recovery methods to get your deleted data back. Also note: Disk Drill does provide a separate feature to install a new instance of Mac OS X using the bootable drive that can be created with it. However, this article explains the steps required to create the Mac OS X USB boot disk for lost data retrieval and running Disk Drill in a ready-to-use standalone recovery environment.
Now anyone can make Mac USB bootable disk for everyday use.
If you are looking for the solution for macOS 11.0 (Big Sur), please check out this article. The post will guide you through the process and will help you to recover your data safely and successfully.
Why do you need boot options for Mac?
Under ordinary circumstances, your Mac starts up normally every time you use it. When you perform a restart, the operating system usually boots from the desktop or laptop’s main internal disk. You may run into a situation where your Mac will not start using the main disk. In these cases, you will need to make use of the Mac boot options.
Accessing the Mac boot options allows you to decide which storage device will be used to load your operating system. These options enable you to boot a Mac from a USB drive or optical disk. The advantage of using a USB drive is that it is a more flexible solution that lets you use the device on laptops and machines that do not have an optical drive installed. A bootable USB drive is a great thing to have around to resolve the problem of a Mac that won’t start or to perform a fresh install of the opening system.
Methods for creating a bootable installer for macOS
Here are several methods for creating a bootable installer for macOS.
Use the Mac Terminal app
The createinstallmedia command can be used to create a bootable installer. You need to use the Mac Terminal app and enter the correct command based on the OS version running on your computer. Use the following steps:
High Sierra -
sudo /Applications/Install macOS High Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
El Capitan -
sudo /Applications/Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X El Capitan.app
💡 Note: For OS versions prior to El Capitan, use the command for El Capitan with the applicationpath parameter.
Create a bootable USB on Mac with Disk Utility
You can use Disk Utility to create a bootable USB with the following procedure.
Download the installer for your version of macOS. By default it will be stored in your Applications folder.
Connect the USB to your computer.
Open Disk Utility from the Utilities folder.
Click on the USB disk name in the left panel.
Click Erase to format the USB.
Select Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) and GUID Partition Map.
Open the previously downloaded macOS installer.
Click through the license agreement until prompted to select the disk to use for OS installation. Select Show All Disks and choose your USB.
Click Continue and wait for the installation to complete.
Create a bootable drive with Disk Drill
Disk Drill offers the ability to create a bootable drive with a simple process that is available as a free feature available in all versions of the software.
Download, install, and launch Disk Drill.
Connect a USB drive to your Mac.
Choose Boot drive for data recovery and select the source and target volumes.
When the process completes, you have a bootable drive that can be used for data recovery or simply to start your system.
Using the bootable installer
Once you have created the bootable installer, here’s how to boot your Mac from the USB drive.
Plug the drive into a Mac.
Use Startup Manager Startup Disk preferences to choose the notable USB installer as the startup disk. The computer will start in macOS Recovery mode.
Choose your language if desired and make sure you have an Internet connection to allow firmware updates to be downloaded.
Select install macOS, click Continue and follow the onscreen prompts.
How to Boot from USB on other Operation Systems
Booting a Windows computer from a USB drive requires you to follow these steps:
Connect the USB drive to the computer.
Press the Power button.
Select the key combination for your machine that opens the BIOS. It is usually Delete or ESC and then F1, F10, or F12.
Navigate to the Boot tab in the BIOS Setup Menu.
Move the USB device you want to use to the first item in the boot sequence.
Save and Exit the BIOS Setup.
The computer will reboot from the USB device. You may need to follow the directions to Press any key to boot from external device quickly or the computer will boot from the next option in the boot sequence.
Use the following procedure to boot a Linux machine from a USB drive.
Access the BIOS setup and set the USB drive as the first boot option.
Connect the USB drive to the Linux machine.
Power on or restart your computer.
When the installer boot menu loads, select the option to Run from a USB.
Other ways to start up your Mac
Here are some other methods you can use to start your Mac. They may be necessary if your main disk is experiencing problems or your Mac won't boot from a USB drive.
Use a bootable CD/DVD
If your Mac is equipped with a CD/DVD drive, you can use a bootable optical disk to start your computer.
An external volume with System Preferences
You can choose to use an external volume to start your Mac by selecting the device from the boot option screen upon startup.
Holding down the Shift key while rebooting will start your Mac in Safe mode which may be helpful for diagnosing problems.
Starting your Mac in Verbose mode by using the Command V key combination after hearing the chime gives you detailed information regarding system startup.
Target Disk Mode
With Target Disk Mode you can connect two Macs and use the second machine’s operating system to boot the other computer.
Access Recovery Mode with the Command R keystroke combination which allows you to reinstall the operating system and perform other functions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated on by Disk Drill Team
How do I install Mac from a USB?
Use the following steps to install your Mac operating system from a USB.
Connect the bootable USB drive to your machine.
Start the computer and hold down the Options key until you hear the chime.
Choose USB Installer and then Disk Utility.
Select the main drive from the top of the left panel.
Click the Erase button from the top menu.
Select the Format drop-down list and choose Mac OS X Extended (Journaled).
Click Erase to erase all data from the selected drive and format it for use.
Close Disk Utility when formatting is complete.
Choose Install OS X from the menu and select your main drive as the target.
Can you boot from a USB stick?
You can get your Mac to boot from a USB drive with these steps:
Connect the USB stick to your Mac.
Power on the computer and hold down the Option key until you hear the chime.
Release the Option key and wait for the boot options to be displayed.
Select the device USB stick as the device that will be used to boot the Mac.
How do I get to the boot menu on a MacBook Pro?
To get to the boot menu on a MacBook Pro, use these steps:
Power off the MacBook.
Connect the device that will be used to boot the laptop.
Power on the MacBook and hold down the Option key until you hear the chime.
Release the Option key and wait for the boot options to be displayed.
Select the device you want to use to boot the MacBook.
How do I make a USB stick bootable?
Use this procedure to make a USB stick bootable with Disk Drill:
Download, install and launch Disk Drill.
Connect a USB stick to your Mac.
Select Create Boot Drive and choose the source and target volumes.
Allow the process to complete.
How do I know if my Mac USB is bootable?
Use these steps to see if a USB drive is bootable:
Connect the drive to your Mac.
Start Disk Utility.
Select the USB Drive and click Info.
Scroll down to the Bootable field which will tell you if the device is bootable.
Why is my USB not bootable?
There are multiple reasons that a USB drive may not be bootable including:
It may be corrupt;
The drive may be incompatible with your OS;
The Startup Security Utility setting may prevent it from booting;
Manual intervention is needed if Option ROM Firmware is on the USB drive.
How do I boot from USB in UEFI mode?
UEFI is the advanced replacement for BIOS that is used on Macs with Intel-based CPUs. Accessing UEFI mode on a Mac requires you to execute this command as your machine starts up.
Start your Mac and press and hold CMD, OPT, “O” and “F”.
From within the EFI, you can select the USB bootable disk as the volume to start your computer.
Which software is best for making bootable USB?
Disk Drill is the best way to make a Mac boot disk on a USB drive. You can access this functionality with the free trial versions of Disk Drill for Mac. This feature enables you to get your Mac OS X machine to boot from a USB drive or stick.
Remember Hugo’s Mac computer? His external hard drive crashed. He bought a piece of software called Disk Drill. The software worked perfectly. It recovered everything on his busted external hard drive. If you have a Mac, you need this software. Harry Newton