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Mavericks is the friendly name for MacOS X 10.9. The process of creating installation media differs slightly from previous versions of MacOS X. The process described here creates a volume that can be used to boot a Mac and install 10.9 on that Mac. This boot environment is the same as the emergency repair environment that gets installed when you upgrade or build a MacOS X system.

An upgrade from an existing installation can be done through the App Store application -this would be the recommended approach.

Part of the process that installs Mavericks downloads an application from the App Store called Install OS X Mavericks[.app]. During an upgrade, you can intercept this application before it takes over your computer, and build this installation media.

Install OS X Mavericks itself, includes a tool to create bootable installation media. This can be accessed through the command line:

Diving straight into the process…

Mount a suitably sized volume that will accept the image:

  • 8GB is plenty for Mavericks
  • format is not important, the device will be erased and reformatted -however, you need to be able to see it when you run the command -so an unformatted device is not suitable.

Open the terminal and run the following as root:

/Applications/Install OS X –volume /Volumes/<target volume> –applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X –nointeraction


Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%… 20%… 30%…100%…
Copying installer files to disk…
Copy complete. Making disk bootable…
Copying boot files…
Copy complete.

If you want to test it, restart the machine with the device connected, and hold down the option key -your device should be available as a bootable option, and if you select it, you should boot into this minimal environment.


What this actually does is:

  • format the target device (HFS+, journaled).
  • copy the environment stored in /Applications/Install OS X >/BaseSystem.dmg (operating system and some basic applications) to this target.
  • copy the directory  /Applications/Install OS X >/Packages to the root of the target.
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