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App Store Install Macos On External Drive

For this guide, you’ll need the Install macOS Mojave application from the Mac App Store, and a USB stick/SD card/external drive partition with capacity =8GB. Mac OS X Lion was released in 2010. Being such an old operating system, you probably don't want to install it directly onto you computer. But you may still want it on an external drive. Jun 11, 2021 How to use the macOS Monterey beta installer. 1) Shut down the computer you wish to install the beta on, and insert the USB drive. 2) Start up the computer while holding down Option (⌥). 3) The Startup Manager will show a list of bootable drives. Select Install macOS Monterey beta to boot from the installer. Dec 10, 2021 To download the macOS Catalina installer click on this link to the Mac App Store. Click on Get to download the installer. Step 3: Install macOS on the external drive. So I decided to install the Catalina installer on my External HDD (The Buffalo Drive) and boot from it whenever I would need it. So I proceeded with the installation. Install Mac App On External Drive; Install & boot Mac OSX on an external hard drive Need MAC OS to install the external storage device. Create a disk image on the desktop. Use Disk utility, utility application, disk utility, MAC OS install DVD new image. Choose Image format, DVD/CD master. Convert a FAT or FAT32 drive to NTFS. Install macOS on the external drive. Run macOS on the external drive by pressing Alt/Option at start up on an Intel-powered Mac, or pressing and holding the on switch on an M1 Mac. What you need If.

There are several reasons you might need to install a new copy of macOS or OS X on the hard drive in your Mac or MacBook. Fortunately, there are also several ways to do it, ranging from Internet recovery to installation discs.

In this article, we’ve given detailed instructions for each method.

So, it doesn’t matter if you want a clean slate on a second-hand MacBook or if you replaced the drive in your age-old machine, we’ve got you covered. Simply follow the instructions below to install the latest compatible version of macOS or OS X on your new hard drive.

Contents

  • Quick Tips
  • Format your new hard drive for macOS or OS X
  • Install macOS using Internet Recovery Mode
  • Create a bootable USB installer for macOS or OS X
  • Use a Mac OS X installation Disc
  • Contact Apple Support

Quick Tips

If you’re tech-savvy but don’t know where to start, use these Quick Tips to point you in the right direction for getting macOS or OS X on your drive:

  1. Install macOS or OS X from Internet Recovery Mode, which you can boot into by holding option+command+R while your Mac powers up.
  2. Download the relevant macOS or OS X installer from Apple, then use Terminal to create a USB installer you can boot up from.
  3. Or use the OS X installation disc that came with your machine — or buy a new one — to boot up and install OS X on your Mac’s hard drive.

Related:

Format your new hard drive for macOS or OS X

You may need to reformat your new hard drive before installing macOS or OS X on it. This erases everything on the drive. If you don’t want to lose data from your hard drive, export the data or back it up before continuing.

It’s easy to reformat your hard drive using Disk Utility in macOS or OS X. If your Mac doesn’t work, you can do this using a second Mac and an external hard drive caddy. Otherwise, you can skip this step and do it from the Utilities page during the macOS or OS X installation.

How do I use Disk Utility to reformat my hard drive?

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Select your new hard drive from the sidebar. If you don’t see it, go to View > Show All Devices.
  3. Click the Erase button at the top of the window.
  4. Choose a new name for your Mac’s hard drive.
  5. Change the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  6. Click Erase.
  7. When the process is complete, press command+Q to close Disk Utility.

Install macOS using Internet Recovery Mode

The simplest way to install macOS or OS X on a new hard drive is by using Internet Recovery Mode. This mode is only available on Apple computers made after 2009 that were running OS X Lion or later.

If your Mac is from before 2009 or never had OS X Lion, click here to jump to the next section.

Internet Recovery Mode downloads the latest compatible version of macOS or OS X over the Internet and installs it to your hard drive. The entire process may take several hours depending on the quality of your Internet connection.

How do I use Internet Recovery Mode to install macOS or OS X on my hard drive?

  1. Power off your Mac from the  menu or by holding the power button.
  2. Briefly press the power button, then immediately hold the command+option+R keys while your Mac boots up.
  3. Release the keys when a spinning globe appears onscreen.
  4. Connect your Mac to the Internet by choosing a Wi-Fi network.
  5. After a short while, the macOS Utilities window should appear.
  6. Click ‘Install’ and select your hard drive as the destination.
  7. Your Mac downloads the latest compatible version of macOS or OS X over the Internet and installs it on your hard drive. It may take some time.

Create a bootable USB installer for macOS or OS X

If you can’t use Internet Recovery Mode, you can create a bootable USB installer instead. This is a USB flash drive with a specific macOS or OS X installer on it. You can boot your Mac from the USB flash drive to install the software on your Mac’s hard drive,

To create a bootable USB installer, you need a working Mac and you need to be comfortable using simple Terminal commands. If your Mac doesn’t work, try to borrow one or book an appointment at your nearest Apple Store.

You also need a USB flash drive with at least 12 GB of storage.

If you can’t create a bootable USB installer, click here to find out how to use a Mac OS X installation disc.

Which version of macOS or OS X should I create an installer for?

Our advice is to install the latest version of macOS or OS X that is compatible with your machine. This gives you the best security against malware and allows you to enjoy the latest available features.

But also, despite the fact that Apple’s latest software releases are free, you still need to pay for older versions of OS X. So if you don’t install the latest compatible version first, you might end up needing to pay twice!

If you already own an OS X Installation Disc, the simplest route is to install that and then update your Mac to the latest software. Click here to learn how to install OS X from your disc.

What versions of macOS or OS X are compatible with my Mac?

To find out the latest compatible version of macOS or OS X, you first need to know what model Mac you have. If your Mac turns on, go to  > About This Mac. Find your Mac model listed toward the top of the window.

Install Macos On Pc

Otherwise, find the serial number printed on the bottom or on the back of your Mac. It’s usually alongside other regulatory information. Enter your serial number into the Check Coverage page on Apple’s website. Find your Mac model listed at the top of the page.

Now, use the links below to look at the Hardware Requirements for each release of macOS or OS X. Start at the top of the list — with the newest release — and work back until you find your latest compatible software.

If your Mac is only compatible with OS X Yosemite or earlier, you need to use an installation disc to get earlier software on your hard drive. Click here to find out how to do that.

How do I create a bootable USB Installer?

  1. Use the links below or search the App Store to download the installer for your chosen version of macOS or OS X:
  2. After downloading, if the installer opens automatically, press command+Q to close it.
  3. Connect your USB flash drive to the computer.
  4. Open Terminal from the Utilities folder in your Applications.
  5. Type sudo into Terminal, including the whitespace at the end.
  6. Open Finder and go to the ‘Install macOS’ app in your Applications folder.
    1. Control-click the app and select ‘Show Package Contents.’
    2. Open the ‘Contents’ folder, then open ‘Resources.’
    3. Look for a file called ‘createmediainstaller’ in the Resources folder.
    4. Drag and drop the ‘createmediainstaller’ file into your Terminal window. It should add the filepath automatically.
  7. In Terminal, type --volume including the whitespace again.
  8. From Finder, select your USB drive, then drag and drop it into Terminal.
    1. If you can’t find it, from the menu bar select Go > Go to Folder.
    2. Type /Volumes/ and click Go.
    3. Now drag and drop your USB drive into Terminal.
  9. In Terminal, press return.
  10. Enter your administrator password then press return again. Terminal doesn’t show anything as you type the password, so make sure you enter it correctly.
  11. Press Y to confirm you want to erase the USB flash drive.
  12. Terminal shows its progress as it erases and installs macOS or OS X on your USB flash drive.

How do I use a bootable USB installer to install macOS or OS X?

  1. Connect the bootable USB installer to your target Mac.
  2. Power off your Mac from the  menu or by holding the power button.
  3. Briefly press the power button, then immediately hold the option key while your Mac boots up.
  4. Release the key when a startup disk selection screen appears.
  5. Choose to boot up from your USB installer.
  6. After a short while, the macOS Utilities window should appear.
  7. Click ‘Install macOS’ and select your hard drive as the destination.
  8. Your Mac installs macOS or OS X from the USB installer. It may take some time.

Use a Mac OS X installation Disc

If you’re unable to use Internet Recovery Mode or create a bootable USB installer, you can still use a Mac OS X installation disc. These discs are available for OS X Snow Leopard, OS X Lion, and OS X Mountain Lion.

If your Mac is from 2012 or earlier, there was an installation disc in the original box. If you don’t have it, you can still buy OS X installation discs from Apple:

How do I install OS X on my hard drive using an installation disc?

  1. If you have a built-in disc drive, power on your Mac so you can insert the OS X installation disc into the slot.
  2. Now power off your Mac from the  menu or by holding the power button.
  3. Briefly press the power button, then immediately hold the option key while your Mac boots up.
  4. Keep holding option until a disc appears on the startup selection screen. If your disc never appears, repeat these steps holding the C key instead.
  5. Choose to boot up from your OS X installation disc.
  6. After a short while, the macOS Utilities window should appear.
  7. If you haven’t done so already, follow these instructions to format your hard drive to work with macOS or OS X.
  8. Click ‘Install OS X’ and select your hard drive as the destination.
  9. Your Mac installs OS X from the installation disc. It may take some time.

Contact Apple Support

If you’re struggling to install macOS or OS X on your new hard drive, you may be able to get one-to-one support directly from Apple. Visit the Get Support website to speak to an advisor online or make an appointment at your nearest Apple Store to see a Genius.

Generally speaking, Apple doesn’t charge anything for software repairs. However, Apple may be unable to offer service if they find out you replaced the hard drive in your Mac yourself, since this violates the terms of use. Apple may also be unable to help if your Mac is vintage or obsolete.

Let us know your experience in the comments below. If you’re still struggling to install macOS or OS X on the blank new hard drive in your Mac, we might be able to help you out!

Dan writes tutorials and troubleshooting guides to help people make the most of their technology. Before becoming a writer, he earned a BSc in Sound Technology, supervised repairs at an Apple Store, and even taught English in China.

Related Posts:

Concerned about updating your Mac to the latest version of macOS? Perhaps you aren't sure about running macOS Monterey quite yet, or maybe you want to test the beta but don't want to risk messing up your system. You might be concerned about incompatible software or you might just be thinking that you might hate it and not be able to go back to the macOS you are familiar with.

Luckily you don't have to install the OS update on your Mac at all - you can install it on an external drive instead.

Installing the Mac operating system on an external drive is the safest way to get a good look at a new OS without changing anything on your Mac. It'll leave your current configuration intact and allow you to play around with Monterey or try out the beta of the next version of macOS.

In this tutorial we explain how to run macOS from an external drive in four simple steps:

  1. Prepare the external drive for the installation using Disk Utility.
  2. Get the macOS install files - we'll show you how.
  3. Install macOS on the external drive.
  4. Run macOS on the external drive by pressing Alt/Option at start up on an Intel-powered Mac, or pressing and holding the on switch on an M1 Mac.

What you need

If you want to run macOS on an external drive you will need a few things including a drive with a good amount of storage available.

Make sure that you opt for flash storage because Apple's APFS (Apple file system) is optimized for SSD and the computer will be sluggish if you attempt to boot from a hard drive. It's also worth investing in a USB C or Thunderbolt 3 drive as this will offer the fastest connection.

You can get hold of a USB flash stick pretty cheaply, such as this San Disk USB Type-C drive with 256GB for £30.93 (RRP £59.99). It's a bit harder to find a Thunderbolt powered SSD, and unfortunately they are a lot more expensive. One example is the Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 1TB SSD, currently £273.98 from Amazon (RRP £344.99).

If you want to use the external installation as if you are running it on your Mac we suggest you get the biggest USB C/Thunderbolt 3 drive you can afford. For more buying advice, take a look at our guide to the best external drives for Mac.

Troubleshooting problems with the M1 Mac

Before we move on to how you can create this external installation of macOS we will mention some issues people had when trying to create such an installation for an M1 Mac.

After the first M1 Macs launched in 2020 it emerged that there was a problem with the USB interface. As a result some users encountered problems trying to install macOS on and booting from SSDs connected via USB. This issue was quickly addressed in Big Sur 11.0.1, improved further in 11.1 and refined again in 11.2. The problem has now been addressed by Apple's developers, but if you find it affects you we suggest that you do the following:

  • Try a different port. For some it has worked to install on a disk connected via USB-A connector, but not USB-C, while the situation has been vice versa for others.
  • Another solution is to use a drive that uses Thunderbolt rather than USB (the port looks the same, but the standard is different). It should be connected directly to the computer, not via a dock. That drive will need a good amount of space (back when we started running Mojave beta on a 32GB stick we found it wasn't enough once we started using iCloud Desktop and other features that meant that our data started being downloaded).
App store install macos on external drive free

Another issue worth flagging is that if you were hoping to use this boot drive to run older versions of macOS on M1 Macs sadly it isn't possible as the M1 Mac can only run the ARM version of Big Sur.

Step 1: Prepare the drive for installation

Mac app store install to external drive

Follow these instructions to prepare your external drive - note that there may be some slight changes to the process if you wish to install the macOS Monterey or the latest beta.

  1. Connect the external drive to your Mac.
  2. Launch Disk Utility (press Cmd + spacebar and start to type Disk Utility).
  3. Before this next step - if you are running High Sierra or later you will need to click on the View drop down below the close/minimise buttons. Choose Show All Devices from the options. Now you will see the root drive in addition to the external volume below it.
  4. Select the External drive in the sidebar (the next step won't work if you only select the volume - in the screenshot above you would need to select the SanDisk, not the NO NAME).
  5. Click on Erase (you need to erase the drive so you can reformat it properly).
  6. Give your drive a name such as 'macOS Big Sur' or 'USB'.
  7. Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the Format.
  8. Choose GUID Partition Map as the Scheme.
  9. Click on Erase.
  10. Wait while Disk Utility creates the partition and sets up the drive (this can take a few minutes).
  11. Then click Done.

Now you will see that your external storage has been renamed with the name you choose and it will be ready for you to install the macOS on it - but there is something else you need to do first.

Step 2: Get the macOS install files

This step will depend on whether you want to run a macOS beta, a full version of macOS, or even an older Mac OS X.

Whether you want to get the macOS Monterey or the latest beta installation files the process to be similar to that detailed below. When Monterey becomes available to download on 25 October 2021 you should be able to get the installation files via Software Update or the Mac App Store.

Here's how to get the macOS Big Sur or Catalina installer:

  1. To download the macOS Big Sur installer click here to go to the Big Sur page on the Mac App Store. To download the macOS Catalina installer click on this link to the Mac App Store.
  2. Click on Get to download the installer.
  3. Software Update will search and then, if you are already running Big Sur (or Catalina), if will ask you to confirm that you do want to download macOS Big Sur (or Catalina).
  4. Click on Download.

Remember that you just want to download the software, not install it, at this stage.

If it's a full version of an older version of macOS you are after, we explain how to get the installation files for macOS here.

If you are after a beta of macOS, you will need to sign up for the beta on your Mac and download the beta files. Once you have the files you'll want to install them on the external drive rather than your Mac, so be careful. We have a complete guide to getting the macOS beta here. The beta files are about 12GB.

Step 3: Install macOS on the external drive

Install Macos On External Drive

Now to install the beta or alternative version of the Mac operating system on your external drive.

  1. Open a finder window, go to Applications and find the Catalina or Big Sur installer (or whichever version of macOS you want to run). You can also find it by using Spotlight (press Command + spacebar and start typing the name of the OS)
  2. Click on the installer.
  3. A window should open (check the Dock if not). It will invite you to set up the installation of macOS Monterey (or whatever) click Continue.
  4. Agree to the software licence agreement.
  5. Next, and this is important, click on Show All Disks. Do not click on Home as you don't want to install on your main drive.
  6. Click on the external drive.
  7. Click Install.

Wait while the version of macOS installs on the drive. This process may take a while - if it tells you it will take 10 minutes it's lying.

Note: This will not work if you didn't set your external drive up correctly as a GUID Partition as per the steps above.

Step 4: Run macOS on the external drive

There are two ways to run the version of macOS from your external drive

Either:

  1. Open System Preferences > Startup Disk.
  2. Select the external drive you wish to use to start up the Mac and click Restart.

Or:

  1. Hold down Option/Alt during startup on an Intel-powered Mac, or press and hold the on button on an M1 Mac until you see the start up options.
  2. Pick the drive you wish to use to start up the Mac.

Once you have installed the macOS you want on the drive it should be easy to install subsequent updates there via System Preferences.

For more advice about installing macOS or Mac OS X read How to update the Mac operating system and How to install old versions of OS X on a Mac.