How to Make a Bootable Copy of Yosemite on Your USB Drive

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USB Memory Direct.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbmemorydirect/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USB Memory Direct.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbmemorydirect/

Apple no longer ships hard copies of its OS.

If you want the OS, you’ve gotta download it from the App store.

If it flops over for some reason, you can, theoretically, reinstall and even reformat from this same App store. Most of the time, that works. I just reformatted two laptops entirely with the App store.

But sometimes, such as those times when you are feeling really lousy and taking high-powered cough meds, you may, as I did, wipe your main hard drive on your big honking desktop, thus rendering that perviously smart machine as dumb and useless as a rock. On that day, you will need a bootable copy of Yosemite. Because, you see, if said hard drive is well and truly wiped, as in wiped so thoroughly that the installer files are gone, then you, my friend, have yourself a digital blank sheet and you can’t mount it to get the App store to recognize it to format it and install the OS.

You are, in a phrase, up the creek without a paddle.

I did that to myself last week. I was too sick at the time to even figure out how to fix it. I just shut it down and closed my office door. The laptops kept me running until my little head cleared.

Then, I spent a few anxious hours googling for a solution. I ended up putting several ideas together to get this particular fix, which worked for me.

Here is how to make a bootable copy of the current Mac OS (Yosemite) on a bootable usb drive. You need a working Mac to do this. So, if you’ve wiped your only hard drive in your only Mac, you may need to borrow a friend’s. Either that, or see if the folks at the Apple store will help you.

1. Get yourself one of those little usb drives. You know, the kind that go on a keychain. The one I used is 32 gb. You might be able to do it on 20 gb or even a little less. But these things have gotten so cheap, I wouldn’t quibble.

2. Format the usb drive. Here’s how: 1. Insert the little drive into a working usb port. 2. Click on Finder. 3. Go to the top of your screen and click on “Go” in the Finder menus. 4. Scroll down to “utilities” and click. 5. A new screen will open. Find Disk Utility and click on that. 6. You will see a new screen. There will be a list of drives on the right side. Click on your usb drive. 7. Click on “erase.” 8. Click on “mac os extended journaled.” 9. Make sure the drive is named “Untitled.”  10. Click on “apply.” 11. After the drive erases, click on Partitions and set it to 1 partition. 12. Click on “options” and then select GUID partition table. 11. Click on apply. You have now formatted your usb drive so that it can accept a bootable copy of Yosemite.

3. Exit Disk Utilities.

4. Go to the App store and click on “install Yosemite.” Wait for it to download.

5. When the download finishes, Yosemite will start a screen to install. Do not click “continue.” Exit out of the installer.

6. Click on your Finder again. Under the “Go” menu, click on terminal.

7. When terminal launches, type this in exactly:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app --nointeraction

8. Hit “Return.”

9. Type in your password when terminal asks for it. You won’t see the password when you type it. Hit Return.

10. Your computer will digest this for a while, then it will tell you that it is erasing the disk and give you a percentage of how much it’s done. After that, it will tell you that it’s copying the installer. Then it will say that the copy is complete and that it is making the disk bootable. Then, it will say it’s copying the boot files, followed by “copy complete,” followed, finally, by “done.”

You now have a bootable copy of Yosemite on your usb drive.

All this took hours on my computer. The usb drive is s-l-o-w. So make sure your computer is attached to a power source and let it be. I set mine up and loaded the dishwasher, watched a movie, read for a while and got ready for bed. It took about 4 hours for it to finish.

Now. For the disclaimers. I’m not an IT person. I don’t know come here from sic ’em about computer stuff. I am only posting this to try to help you. I think everybody needs a bootable copy of their operating system for times when their drive goes belly up.

I created a boot disk using this recipe. It worked for me. If it doesn’t work for you, you will have to seek help from someone who knows more than I do. I do not warranty this advice. It’s just one computer neophyte, sharing something that worked for her with other computer neophytes.

People who have smarter and better ways to do this, feel free to share them in the comboxes. But do it courteously. I don’t want to delete useful information just because the poster is behaving like a jerk, but please, try not to behave like a jerk. Also, do not post links to things you’re selling.

I hope this helps someone. That is my only reason for posting it.

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Why I am Useless for Anything Real Today

Mac Pro Tower

Not my Mac, but looks like it. 

I’m having a sleep-debt, ambition free, don’t wanna — ain’t gonna — do nothin’ day. 

I am tired and semi-functional because I pulled a late night last night and I feel like somebody shot a big dose of Novocain into my brain. 

I’d like to tell you that I missed my zzzzzs because I was working on something really important, earth shattering, or at least, urgent. 

But that would be a lie. What I did was stay up well past my sleep time to put a new boot drive in my Mac Pro and switch the old boot drive into the drive 3 bay and take the old drive 3 drive and put it in an enclosure and then back up the data from the enclosed drive onto the new/old drive bay drive. 

And a partridge and a pear tree.

Or something like that.

I also, (a) had the drive sitting on my desk for three weeks before I decided to do this, and (b) waited all day to start it — at just  a hair past 11. That’s one hour before midnight. On a week night. 

My Mac Pro is aging. In fact, you could say it’s aged. I’ve had it for years and it is, no contest, the best computer I’ve ever owned.

I once had a pc go belly up right in the middle of one of my do-it-yourself campaigns for election. I don’t hire consultants to do my campaigns for me. I do it all myself. That means I don’t have to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign for election, which means that I can tell special interests to take a hike pretty much any time I want to, which means that I get to represent the district that elected me by what they want and not what outside interests want, which means I get to sleep nights. 

Usually. 

I usually get to sleep nights. 

Some nights I play musical chairs with the hard drives in my honking big desktop computer. 

But I digress. I do my own campaigns; my own databases, my own literature, my own everything. I do it all on my home computer. A few years ago, I got caught in the nightmare of having my computer go belly up right in the middle of a campaign. 

Now campaigns are 24/7 insanity that leave you feeling like you’ve been drug for several months across open prairie by a runaway horse. There is no tired short of childbirth or chemotherapy like the tired of a political campaign. When this computer went ditzy, it took all the things I needed to get across the finish line of this particular campaign down the drain with it.

I worked like a crazy woman, reformatting the hard disk and then inputting data from various disorganized hard copies to try to reconstruct what I needed. It took time away from campaigning at a critical point and made me almost sick with overwork and anxiety. If it had been in a close election instead of a walkaway, it could have gotten me beat. 

That experience made me a devout backer-upper. But, as I experienced a few days ago when I deleted a post on this blog, even the best back-up strategy is less than absolute protection from an unfocused mind. However, I do back up. And I stopped using old computers in my work.

For a while after that, I tried to protect myself from old computer disease by replacing my computers every two years. The last time I did that, I got one that went bonkers on me just a few weeks after I took it out of the box. I tossed that nearly new pc and bought a Mac, and I haven’t looked back. 

When I got my hands on my Mac Pro, it was love at first boot-up. It never runs out of steam, no matter how big the database I put through it. It doesn’t crash. And in seven years of ownership it has never once eaten a single byte of data. Even though it’s an expensive machine, the cost evens out over seven years of carefree usage and no need to buy another one, especially when you stack it up against the hair pulling, near death experiences of a big crash at a critical time in a campaign. 

No matter what I ask of it, this baby never hiccups.

But it is 7 years old now, and the ssd hard drives on my laptops make it seem stodgy. Not the processor or ram; the Mac Pro still has plenty of horses under the hood. But the hard drives themselves are just slower than the newer ssd technology. 

I looked at buying an ssd drive for it, but the cost of the itty bitty drives in my laptops is a dollop of what it would cost me to replace the really big hard drives in the Mac Pro. It would be take-out-a-loan time, and I don’t do that. So …. I considered and bought what they call a hybrid drive, which is a conventional drive with a good-sized flash cache.

That meant cloning and replacing my boot drive. And, since I’m nothing if not kinda ocd, I decided it also meant moving the other drives in the computer (it has bays for four of them, all full) and pulling the extra out to use as a portable drive.

I bought the stuff, cloned the boot drive. Put the new drive on my desk. And ignored it. 

I just couldn’t find the time to dive into the innards of that computer. And when I had the time, I didn’t wanna.

Side1

My Mac has more ram than this one. See the 4 drive bays? Changing drives is idiot proof. (Almost.) 

For some reason, last night seemed like the The Time Had Arrived. I got home about 9 and decided that I wanted to take photos of the full moon. I sprayed myself with insect repellent and went out and played with that for a couple of hours. (All this while knowing that I was going to change out that hard drive.) Then, and only then, I came back in, and cracked open the Mac Pro.

It would have been ez pz except the drive bays are for 3.5″ drives and the new drive is a 2.5″. So I had to do some creative stuff and that took longer than it should have because the first time I tried it, I put the drive on the adapter backwards and had to do it over. (Amateur, working on computer.) That plus the enclosure for the old bay three drive turned out to be a piece of junk that the computer wouldn’t even recognize and I had to take apart an old enclosure for a small drive that I don’t use anymore and cannibalize it for parts and re-rig the dumb thing. (Cheap amateur who bought a substandard enclosure, working on computer.) 

Two hours later, the hard drives were in, and the computer was humming. The new drive jazzed the old computer and it accesses data faster now. I’ve read it gets better as the drive learns my ways.

But I not only jazzed my computer, I jazzed myself. Sleep time was past, and between the sweat from being out in the heat shooting the moon and the bug spray, I felt like I’d been dipped in syrup. The last thing I wanted to do was go to bed. Time for a shower and a movie. 

And that is why I am useless for anything real today. 

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