Create Bootable macOS Sierra USB Thumb Drive

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This article gives the steps to download the macOS Sierra install from Apple App Store and create a bootable USB thumb drive with Sierra image.


  • USB Storage Device > 5GB
  • Wiping all data on the USB Storage device

Download macOS Sierra Installer

  1. Open App Store
  2. Search for macOS Sierra
  3. Select Download

Erase USB

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility
    1. Select Spotlight
    2. Type disk utility
    3. Double-Click app icon
  3. Format USB drive
    1. Select USB drive in Disk Utility (Not the partition)
    2. Select Erase
    3. Enter name macOSSierra
    4. Select OS Extended (Journaled)
    5. Select GUID Partition Mac scheme
      Disk utility macOSSierra example
    6. Select Erase

Copy OS Image to USB

  1. Open Terminal
    1. Select Spotlight
    2. Type terminal
    3. Double-Click App icon
  2. Paste the following command line into the terminal window and hit enter
    1. sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/macOSSierra --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --nointeraction
    2. Enter your password and hit enter

Boot from USB

  1. With the USB device connected restart the Mac computer.
  2. At the start of the boot before the Apple logo and progress bar show hold down ALT (OPTION)
  3. A menu with bootable devices should show
  4. Select the USB Device
  5. Begin install or recovery process

Delete Download (Optional)

If you are not going to be wiping out the system you created the USB on; then you'll probably want to delete the macOS Sierra Installer download to save ~5GB of space.

  1. Quit the installer if it launched
    1. Select the installer windows use hotkey Command + Q
  2. From the command use this command to remove it
    sudo rm -rf  /Applications/Install\ macOS\
    Yosemite Example
    sudo ~/Downloads/Install\ OS\ X\ --volume /Volumes/Yosemite --applicationpath ~/Downloads/Install\ OS\ X\ --nointeraction

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