Written byAmanda Wong
Make a macOS Sonoma Bootable USB Installer Step-by-step
Summary: Read this post to know how to create a macOS Sonoma USB bootable installer when you need to install macOS on multiple computers, the macOS Recovery doesn't work, etc. Follow these detailed steps to successfully create a bootable installer for macOS Sonoma.
With the release of the public version of macOS Sonoma, many Mac users want to upgrade to macOS Sonoma on their Macs to use those powerful features brought by macOS 14, like Widgets on the desktop, web apps, Game Mode, and so forth.
Generally, you can upgrade to macOS Sonoma straightforwardly by downloading the macOS installer and booting into the macOS Recovery mode, however, for some reason, you need to create a bootable installer for macOS Sonoma, and then upgrade to macOS Sonoma from the bootable installer.
A macOS bootable installer is needed to:
- Clean install macOS Sonoma on Mac
- Update multiple Macs without downloading the installer each time
- Troubleshoot issues on the startup disk
- Have an emergency disk handy when the Mac won't turn on
- Install macOS 14 on Mac without an internet connection
Table of Contents:
- 1. Things needed to make a macOS Sonoma bootable installer
- 2. Steps to create the macOS Sonoma bootable installer
- 3. Use the bootable installer to update your Mac
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Things needed to make a macOS Sonoma bootable installer
Before beginning, you will need the following to be able to create a USB bootable installer for macOS Sonoma:
a. A USB flash disk with at least 16 GB of available storage given that the macOS installer file is about 13 GB, and the USB flash drive should be formatted as Mac OS Extended.
b. A healthy Mac that is compatible with macOS Sonoma. You will need to get the macOS Sonoma installer on the Mac used to create the USB bootable installer so that the Mac model should be supported by macOS Sonoma.
c. Quality and stable internet connection on your Mac. During the process, you will need to download the macOS installer from the webpage or the App Store, and a good internet connection is required.
Steps to create the macOS Sonoma bootable installer
Apple has made it possible for Mac users to utilize Terminal commands to install macOS on an external storage device ever since the release of OS X Mavericks in 2013. If everything is ready, we can dive into the detailed steps to make a USB bootable installer for macOS Sonoma.
- Connect the Mac OS Extended-formatted USB flash drive to your Mac.
- Download macOS Sonoma from the Mac App Store and search for macOS Sonoma, click Get to download the installer. When the installer automatically opens after downloading, quit it and do not install it here.
- Open the Terminal tool from the Finder > Applications > Utilities.
- Enter the following command into Terminal and then press Return. It is assumed that the installer is located in your Applications folder and that the USB flash drive or other volume you're using is called MyVolume. Replace MyVolume in the command with the name of your volume if it has a different name.sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sonoma.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
- Enter your administrator password when asked. As you type, there are no characters displayed in Terminal. Next, click Return.
- Type Y to indicate that you want to erase the volume when asked then hit Return. As the volume is erased, the Terminal shows.
- You can get a warning saying that the Terminal would like to access files on a removable volume after the volume has been wiped. To enable the copy to continue, click OK.
- The volume will have the same name as the installer you downloaded after Terminal indicates that it is finished, for example, Install macOS Sonoma. You can now eject the volume and close the Terminal.
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Use the bootable installer to update your Mac
After you have successfully created the bootable installer for macOS Sonoma, you can boot Intel/Apple Silicon Macs that are compatible with macOS Sonoma from the USB bootable installer and upgrade to macOS Sonoma on your Mac. Although it doesn't download macOS from the internet, it does require an internet connection to get firmware and other information specific to the Mac model. Here's how:
On a M1/M2 Mac:
- Connect the bootable installer to the target Mac.
- Turn on your Mac and hold the power button until the startup options window(Startup Manager) , and you can see all available bootable volumes.
- Select the volume where the bootable installer is installed, then click Continue.
- When the macOS installer opens, follow the onscreen installation instructions.
On any other Mac:
- Plug the macOS Sonomna bootable installer into the Mac.
- Turn on your Mac, then immediately press and hold the Option (Alt) key.
- Release the Option key when a black screen shows your bootable volumes.
- Choose the macOS Sonoma USB bootable disk. Then click the onscreen arrow or press Return. Make sure that you have selected "allow booting from external or removable media" in Startup Security Utility.
- Choose your language, if prompted.
- On the Utilities window, select Install macOS, then click Continue and complete the installation.
If you want to upgrade macOS on multiple Macs, just insert the USB bootable installer to each Mac and repeat the steps. This is more time- and effort-saving compared with downloading and installing macOS on multiple Macs one by one.
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