How to make a bootable OS X El Capitan Installer on a USB drive

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 5.33.17 PM

Here’s how to make a bootable installer of El Capitan on a USB Thumbdrive.  It is the quickest way but it uses the terminal so it is for advanced users. If you want a way that is slightly longer but easier for beginners download and run Diskmaker which does the steps below for you automatically!

How to make a bootable El Capitan Installer.

  1. Download and keep a copy of the ‘Install OS X El Capitan’ App. (Download from App store but make a copy of it before you install it as the Apple Installer deletes it after you use it.)
  2. Put it in your ‘Applications’ folder
  3. Format your blank USB (8GB is a good size) as Apple OS X Extended (Journaled) using Disk Utility and call it ‘Untitled’
  4. Open Terminal and type in this:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --nointeraction

You will get a response like this:

Erasing Disk: 0%... 10%... 20%... 30%...100%...
Copying installer files to disk...

And after half an hour or so the USB drive will be a bootable OS X El Capitan Installer that you can use to install or upgrade OS X!

For more info check out the Apple Support article here:

If you have trouble with DiskMaker X here is a way to do it using the built-in Disk Utility in OS X.


2 responses to “How to make a bootable OS X El Capitan Installer on a USB drive”

  1. Virginie

    Hi again.
    I’m trying to find the app “‘Install OS X El Capitan” on App store, but I only find “apps for ipads” or “apps for iphones”. What am I doing wrong? Where exactly should I look? Is it the exact name “Install OS X El Capitan”?
    My Mac is too old to get access to the app store. If I have access from a PC, can I still download the app on a USB, save it in the application folder from the USB that I’ve previously formatted on the Mac?
    Sorry, I’m just stuck right now…

    1. App Store is in the Apple Menu in OS X. You can only download the latest version of OS X from the App Store, so at the moment the only version available will be macOS Sierra. So you will need to download “Install mac OS Sierra”.
      If you have previously downloaded El Capitan it will be available for you. So if you want an old OS you need to find a person you know who has previously downloaded it as it will be available in the App Store for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.