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How to Create a Bootable macOS Sierra Installer

Create boot installer for macOS Sierra

Some Mac users like creating a bootable USB install drive for macOS Sierra, which offers for a way to easily update multiple machines, perform clean installs, and to have just as a backup Mac OS Sierra installer should the need arise. 

This walkthrough will demonstrate the exact steps necessary to create a boot installer drive for the final version of macOS Sierra using a USB flash key or a similar thumb drive. 

The basic requirements necessary to make a boot macOS Sierra installer are as follows:

  • USB flash drive (8GB or larger), this will be formatted and become the MacOS Sierra installer volume
  • Download macOS Sierra from the App Store onto the Mac and have the Installer app located in the /Applications/ folder – you can re-download it from the Purchases tab if need be

You’ll want to be sure you have the final version of the “Install macOS Sierra” app in the /Applications folder, this is important because the process using the final versions of macOS Sierra installer is slightly different than performing the same bootable installer using the beta versions. Additionally, it needs to be in the /Applications/ folder because the command syntax assumes that is the application path.

As far requirements go, having a USB flash drive and the release version of macOS Sierra are all the tis necessary, though having some degree of patience will be helpful because it can take a while to successfully create the boot installer.

Creating a macOS Sierra Boot Install Drive

Remember, this is going to erase the USB flash drive and turn it into a bootable installer for Mac OS 10.12. Do not use a USB flash drive that you don’t want erased.

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/SierraBootInstall --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --nointeraction &&say Done

Create boot macOS Sierra install drive
  1. Connect the USB flash drive to the Mac, then rename the USB drive to “SierraBootInstall” – yes you can pick a different name just be sure to edit the command syntax to reflect that
  2. Open “Terminal”, found within /Applications/Utilities/
  3. Place the following command syntax into the Terminal:
  4. Double-check to confirm the syntax is accurate, and remember the USB drive is going to be erased in this process, then hit the Return key to start creating the macOS Sierra USB installer media
  5. Enter the admin password into the terminal if requested
  6. Let the process run it’s course, this will take a while depending on the speed of the target flash volume but you can expect to wait nearly 30 minutes
  7. When you see “Done” on screen, the task is complete and you can quit out of Terminal

Once the macOS Sierra installer has been completed, the USB flash drive will be named as “Install macOS Sierra” and it’s ready to be used. If you open the volume you’ll see the typical Sierra installer app:

Finished macOS Sierra boot usb install drive

The video below demonstrates the entire process of erasing a USB flash drive and then turning it into a macOS Sierra installer drive. If you’re having any difficulties, watch the video tutorial to see each step.

Booting with the MacOS Sierra Installer Drive

Now that you have created the boot installer for Mac OS 10.12, you can boot from any compatible Mac with it by doing the following:

  • Connect the macOS Sierra boot drive to the Mac
  • Reboot the Mac and immediately hold down the OPTION key
  • Choose “Install macOS Sierra” from the boot menu options

Once booted up from the installer drive, you can either install macOS Sierra directly as an update, or have access to the traditional utilities menu options including Disk Utility. We’ll cover performing a clean install in a separate article.

Bootable macOS Sierra installer

Have any questions, thoughts, tips, or info about creating a macOS Sierra boot install drive? Let us know in the comments!