How to create a bootable USB Drive



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How to Make a USB Bootable

Four Methods:

This wikiHow teaches you how to turn a USB flash drive into a location from which a computer can install or start an operating system. This is useful when attempting to install an operating system (e.g., Windows) on a computer that doesn't have a CD/DVD reader. You can make a USB bootable on a Windows or Mac computer by using Command Prompt or Terminal, both of which are free programs. If you want to make a bootable USB drive for the latest version of Windows 10 or 7, you can use the Windows 10 or 7 installation tool to format your USB drive. Keep in mind that you don't need a USB drive to install new versions of Mac OS.

Quick Summary

1. Run the command prompt as an administrator.
2. Type "diskpart" and press "enter."
3. Type "list disk" and press "enter."
4. Type "select disk " and press "enter."
5. Type "clean" and press "enter."
6. Type "create partition primary" and press "enter."
7. Type "select partition 1" and press "enter."
8. Type "active" and press "enter."
9. Type three curly brackets, 1, and then three more curly brackets ("{{{1}}}") and press "enter."
10. Type "assign" and press "enter."

Did this summary help you?

Steps

Using Command Prompt on Windows

  1. Insert a USB flash drive into your computer.Your USB flash drive should plug into one of the rectangular USB ports on your computer's housing. Flash drives only fit one way, so don't force the drive if it doesn't fit.
    • The USB flash drive should be at least 8 gigabytes in space so that it can accommodate most operating system installation files.
  2. Open Start .Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  3. Type incommand prompt.This will search your computer for the Command Prompt program.
  4. Right-click Command Prompt .It's a black box at the top of the Start window. This will prompt a drop-down menu.
    • If your mouse doesn't have a right-click button, click the right side of the mouse, or use two fingers to click the mouse.
    • If your computer uses a trackpad instead of a mouse, use two fingers to tap the trackpad or press the bottom-right side of the trackpad.
  5. ClickRun as administrator.It's in the drop-down menu.
  6. Click when prompted.This will confirm your decision and open Command Prompt.
  7. Enter the "partition" command.Type indiskpartand then pressEnterto do so.
    • You may be prompted to confirm this decision before proceeding.
  8. Bring up a list of connected drives.Typelist diskinto Command Prompt, then pressEnter.
  9. Find your USB flash drive.Look for your flash drive's name, letter, or size in gigabytes to identify it.
    • If you don't know which one is your flash drive, unplug your flash drive, run the "disk list" command, plug back in your flash drive, run the "disk list" command yet again, and figure out which disk was absent the first time that you ran the "disk list" command.
    • The flash drive is usually the bottom disk in this menu.
  10. Select your flash drive.Typeselect disk numberinto Command Prompt—making sure to replace "number" with the flash drive's number as presented in the list—and then pressEnter.
  11. Erase the flash drive's contents.Type incleanand then pressEnter.
  12. Create a new partition on the flash drive.To do so:
    • Type increate partition primaryand pressEnter
    • Type inselect partition 1and pressEnter
    • Type inactiveand pressEnter
  13. Format the flash drive.Typeformat fs=fat32 quickinto Command Prompt, then pressEnter.
    • If you encounter an error in the USB creation, repeat this process using theformat fs=ntfs quickcommand instead.
  14. Assign a letter to the USB drive.Type inassignand pressEnter. You should see a confirmation message appear in the Command Prompt window.
  15. Close the Command Prompt window(s).Your USB drive is now bootable, meaning that you can place an operating system's ISO file or an image of your computer's hard drive on the USB drive in order to install it on another computer.

Using Terminal on Mac

  1. Insert a USB flash drive into your computer.Your USB flash drive should plug into one of the rectangular or oval USB or USB-C ports on your computer's housing. Traditional flash drives only fit one way, so don't force the drive if it doesn't fit.
    • If your Mac uses USB-C ports, your USB-C flash drive should fit any way in which you insert it.
    • The USB flash drive should be at least 8 gigabytes in space so that it can accommodate most operating system installation files.
  2. Make sure that you have an ISO file.If you want to create a bootable USB drive on a Mac, you'll need to have an ISO file (or an image file, if you're backing up your computer's hard drive) ready to drag and drop into Terminal.
    • This is different than how Windows handles bootable flash drives, since you can make a flash drive bootable and then save it for later when using Windows.
  3. Open Spotlight .Click the magnifying glass icon in the top-right corner of the screen. A search bar will appear.
  4. Type interminal.This will search your Mac for the Terminal application.
  5. Double-click Terminal .It's a black box in the middle of the Spotlight search results. Doing so will open Terminal.
  6. Open a list of connected drives.Typediskutil listinto Terminal, then pressReturn.
  7. Find your USB drive.Look for the USB drive that you plugged into your computer, then look at the USB drive's name under the "IDENTIFIER" heading. You'll usually find your USB drive under the "(external, physical)" heading near the bottom of the Terminal window.
    • Your USB flash drive's name under the "IDENTIFIER" heading will normally be something like "disk1" or "disk2".
  8. Select the USB drive.Typediskutil unmountDisk /dev/disknumber—making sure to replace "disknumber" with the disk's "IDENTIFIER" name and number (e.g.,disk2)—into Terminal, then pressReturn.
  9. Enter the formatting command.Type insudo dd if=but don't press theReturnkey just yet.
  10. Drag the ISO file into the Terminal window.Click and drag the ISO file (or disk image file) that you want to boot into using the USB drive into the Terminal window. This will copy the file's address into the Terminal command.
    • You can also type in the folder path to the ISO file.
  11. Press theSpacekey.This will put a space at the end of the file's address, making room for the next command.
  12. Enter the rest of the command.Type inof=/dev/disknumber bs=1m, again making sure to replace "disknumber" with the USB flash drive's number (e.g.,disk2), and pressReturn.
  13. Type in your password.This is the password that you use to log into your Mac. As you type, you'll notice that the letters don't appear in Terminal; this is normal.
  14. PressReturn.Doing so submits your password and prompts your Mac to begin creating a bootable USB flash drive with your selected ISO or image file.
    • This process can take several hours to complete, so just leave Terminal open and your Mac plugged in.

Using the Windows 10 Installation Tool

  1. Understand when to use this method.The Windows 10 Installation Tool is a program that puts a Windows 10 installation file on a USB and makes the USB bootable. This is only useful when using Windows to create a Windows 10 installation USB.
  2. Open the .This page contains the tool that you'll use to create your bootable USB flash drive.
  3. Insert a flash drive into your computer.Your USB flash drive should plug into one of the rectangular USB ports on your computer's housing. Flash drives only fit one way, so don't force the drive if it doesn't fit.
    • Your USB flash drive should be at leas 8 gigabytes in size.
  4. ClickDownload tool now.It's a blue button in the middle of the page. Doing so will prompt the installation tool's setup file to download onto your computer.
  5. Open the installation tool.Double-click the downloaded installation tool file, then clickYeswhen prompted.
    • The installation tool will be in your browser's default "Downloads" folder (e.g., the desktop).
  6. ClickAccept.It's at the bottom of the installation tool's window.
  7. Check the "Create installation media" box.You'll find this in the middle of the window.
  8. Click .It's in the bottom-right corner of the window.
  9. Click again.Doing so will select your computer's attributes as the ones to apply to the installation file.
    • If you want to choose a different language, edition, and architecture (e.g., 32-bit) than the defaults for your computer, uncheck the "Use the recommended options for this PC" box and change the values needed before clickingNext.
  10. Check the "USB flash drive" box.It's in the middle of the window.
  11. Click .
  12. Select a drive.Click the name of the drive that you want to use.
  13. Click .It's at the bottom of the window. Doing so will prompt the tool to begin formatting your flash drive for the Windows 10 installation—a process which includes erasing the flash drive's existing files, making it bootable, and adding the Windows 10 ISO file.

Using the Windows 7 Installation Tool

  1. Plug a USB flash drive into your computer.Your USB flash drive should plug into one of the rectangular USB ports on your computer's housing. Flash drives only fit one way, so don't force the drive if it doesn't fit.
    • The USB flash drive must have at least 4 gigabytes of free space on it.
  2. Obtain a Windows 7 ISO file.To do so:
    • Go to the .
    • Enter your Windows 7 product key.
    • ClickVerify
    • Select a language.
    • ClickConfirm
    • Select aDownloadoption (32-bit or 64-bit).
  3. Open the .This page contains a tool that allows you to make a USB flash drive bootable and place the Windows 7 installation file on it.
  4. ClickDownload.It's an orange button in the middle of the page.
  5. Select a language.Click the checkbox to the left of the version of the tool that you want to use. For example, if you want a version that uses U.S. English, you'd find the one with "US" near the end of its name.
  6. Click .It's a blue button in the lower-right side of the page. This will prompt the tool to download onto your computer.
  7. Install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool program.Double-click the downloaded setup file, then follow the on-screen instructions.
  8. Open the program.Double-click the "Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool" icon on your desktop. A new window will open.
    • If prompted, clickYesbefore proceeding.
  9. Select your Windows 7 ISO file.ClickBrowse, then click the ISO file that you downloaded earlier and clickOpen.
  10. Click .It's at the bottom of the window.
  11. ClickUSB device.This button is in the bottom-right corner of the window.
  12. Select your USB flash drive.Click the flash drive name that you want to use.
  13. ClickBegin copying.This button is in the lower-right corner of the window. Doing so will prompt the tool to make the USB flash drive bootable and copy the Windows 7 installation file onto the flash drive.

Community Q&A

Search
  • Question
    Can this answer be expanded to include Windows 10?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The method listed first (method 1) also works for Windows 10, just follow along as if it were Windows 8.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Will this remove the operating system that the PC is running?
    Algertzharri
    Community Answer
    You are making your USB bootable, like a CD. So there will be no change in the running PC.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    I don't see my disk listed in Method One. Why not?
    Algertzharri
    Community Answer
    Check carefully, because it should be. You can verify it by opening "My computer" and see if your USB is there.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Method 1 mentioned that format in fat32, but will it work?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, if your computer is 32bit. If it is 64bit, do not use this method.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    I'm using Method 2 on Terminal. How do I know when the process is complete?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It will say, "100 percent completed. DiskPart successfully formatted the volume."
    Thanks!
  • Question
    If it is 64 bit and I shouldn't use the formatting method FAT32, should I skip it, or format to NTFS?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    FAT32 is a drive organization scheme, it doesn't matter whether your processor is 16, 32, 64, or 128 bits. You need to use FAT32 if you're going to make a DOS-bootable flash drive, but you'll be limited to a flash drive no larger than 32 GB; you cannot format a larger partition than 32 GB with FAT32. If you need that much space then you must use NTFS, and you won't be able to use plain old DOS to access it.
    Thanks!
Unanswered Questions
  • I'm using method 2. Is it normal that nothing happens after entering the password?
  • For method two, I did everything correctly until step 14 and when I put in my password the terminal said "dd: /dev/disk1: Resource busy". Is this correct? Also, when will I know when it is done?
  • How do I find the properties of a new USB flash drive on windows 10? When I open the drive it no longer shows the little pie!
  • I have windows 8 and did the first example, the end was fat 32. You claim if it is 64, fat 32 will not work. What should I do if it is 64 bit?
  • While in method 2 of Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool copying the win 7 file, it disrupted at 99% showing the message that I should check my file or pen drive. What can I do?
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  • Using Command Prompt or Terminal will allow you to create a Linux installation USB drive.

Warnings

  • Formatting a USB drive will erase the drive. If the USB you are using has data on it, make sure that you back up the data before you make the drive bootable.

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of How to Make a USB Bootable was reviewed on February 1, 2019.

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Jeff Johnson

Feb 27

"I had used the 1st method before reading this. I wish I knew this blog was here before. It would have saved me daysof poking and trying. It works great."

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Jun 4, 2019

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Dec 28, 2019

"Screen shots of every step, and mentioning the point using by red arrow mark was very nice and easy to understand.Thank you very much. :)"

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Oct 12, 2019

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Anonymous

Oct 3, 2019

"The screen shots and details were very helpful in clarifying the steps of the process."

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Sep 23, 2019

"Absolutely fantastic. Did the job first time. Simple step by step bootable USB."

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Date: 06.12.2018, 18:09 / Views: 81464