Create a Bootable macOS High Sierra Install Drive with DiskMaker X 7

Like clockwork, Apple updates macOS on an annual basis. Shortly after the release of a new version of macOS, we can expect a new version of a venerable Mac utility for creating bootable install disks: DiskMaker X. On Wednesday, DiskMaker X was updated to full High Sierra compatibility — in fact, as of today the developers still haven’t updated their graphics to advertise that fact. In this article, we’ll demonstrate how you can create a bootable install drive for macOS High Sierra.

Download DiskMaker X 7

Clicking the link above downloads a copy of DiskMaker X 7 to your Mac. DiskMaker X is free of charge, but you can help support a useful utility by sending the developers a donation.

Install DiskMaker X 7
To install DiskMaker X 7, find the installer disk image file. It’s most likely in the Downloads folder, and once located, double-click it. The disk image is mounted, and the following screen appears:

DiskMaker X 7 Installer Screen

(DiskMaker X 7 Installer Screen.)

Drag the DiskMaker X 7 icon to the Applications folder alias as shown by the gray arrow on the installer screen. In seconds, the app is installed and ready to go, but wait before launching it because you need to…

Download the macOS High Sierra Installer
If you have already upgraded your Mac to macOS High Sierra, you’ll notice that the installer is nowhere to be found. That’s not a problem, since it’s available for download on the Mac App Store. If this link doesn’t work (it may change during the year), the most consistent way to find it is to click the link on the Mac App Store “Featured” page for “Apps Made by Apple” that is found in the right sidebar. You’ll see something like this:

High Sierra Installer in the Mac App Store

(High Sierra Installer in the Mac App Store.)

Click the link that says “Download” and the High Sierra installer is downloaded to your Mac. Like all apps in the Mac App Store, the installer is saved into the Applications folder for future use.

OWC 16GB USB Flash Drive

(OWC 16GB USB Flash Drive.)

Get a suitable USB thumb, USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire Drive
You’ll need a drive with at least 8GB of capacity to create your bootable install drive. USB thumb drives are perfect for this task; many longtime Mac owners buy a new one each year to create a macOS installer archive for every new version. The OWC 16.0GB Dual USB Flash Drive (seen in the image above) is affordable, and it works perfectly.

A USB 3.0 drive like the 320GB OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro is much faster for installing High Sierra, and there’s a 500GB FireWire 800/USB 3.0 version available for older Macs that support FireWire.

Have Macs that support Thunderbolt and need to do more than one installation? Take a look at the 1TB LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt drive.

Whatever is on the drive when you create your bootable macOS High Sierra install drive will be erased. If you want to use the same drive to carry other utilities or troubleshooting tools or want to use it as a backup drive, that needs to be set up after you’ve created the bootable install drive.

Launch DiskMaker X 7
Attach the drive to the Mac, make sure it’s visible from the Finder, then launch DiskMaker X 7. If you’ve retained macOS installers from the past, DiskMaker X asks which version of the operating system you wish to make a boot disk of. Select the version (in this case macOS High Sierra (10.13), and then a dialog like the following should be displayed:

DiskMaker locates the macOS High Sierra installer

(DiskMaker locates the macOS High Sierra installer.)

If your downloaded installer ended up in the Applications folder (as it should), click “Use this copy”, which is highlighted in blue. DiskMaker X 7 then asks for the type of disk you’re using for your bootable disk (see image below).

Select the type of disk being used

(Select the type of disk being used.)

Note that if you’re using a 8GB (or larger) USB thumb drive, it will be completely erased. DiskMaker will erase any complete volume that you signify, so if you wish to make a disk that can install Yosemite, El Capitan, and Sierra, consider using Disk Utility (found in the Applications/Utilities folder) to partition the drive into three separate volumes, one for each operating system version.

For this example a drive that was erased and named “High Sierra Installer” is our target drive, so clicking “Another kind of disk” is appropriate. Next, DiskMaker X asks which disk you wish to erase (see image below).

Select the disk volume for your boot disk, then click “Choose this disk”

(Select the disk volume for your boot disk, then click “Choose this disk”.)

In this case, select “High Sierra Installer” (or the name of your disk) and then click “Choose this disk”.

One last opportunity to stop...

(One last opportunity to stop…)

You’re warned that the volume will be erased. Click “Erase then create the disk” and DiskMaker X 7 then reminds you that you’ll be required to type in the administrator user name and password (see screenshot below).

You'll need your admin user name and password to create the disk

(You’ll need your admin user name and password to create the disk.)

During the disk creation process temporary windows will open and close, files are copied, and you may be asked if you wish to use your disk as a Time Machine backup drive — if this happens (and it may occur more than once) click “Don’t use”. If you’re running a virus protection app, it may ask if you wish to scan the disk; be sure to tell it to leave your disk alone!

You’ll know that DiskMaker X 7 is done when you hear a lion roar, and a dialog will be displayed to inform you of the completion.

The macOS High Sierra bootable installer disk is ready

(The macOS High Sierra bootable installer disk is ready.)

At this point, it’s possible to either reboot your Mac while holding down the Option (Alt) key to select the drive, or use System Preferences > Startup Disk to select it.

You can quit and do the macOS High Sierra upgrades at a later time, and/or make a donation towards the care and feeding of the DiskMaker X developers. While there are ways to make a bootable installation disk that require familiarity with the Mac command line, DiskMaker X just makes the process much more “Mac-like” and transparent.


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