How to Create an OS X Mavericks Bootable USB and Clean Install on Your Mac

How to Create an OS X Mavericks Bootable USB and Clean Install on Your Mac

If you’re a Mac OS X user then I’m sure you already know that the newest version, OS X Mavericks, was just released on Tuesday, October 22. To the surprise of many, it is available as a free upgrade via the Mac App Store. This new major OS X release adds over 200 new features and will give your computer a boost in performance as well as increased battery efficiency.

In most cases, you can simply upgrade through the Mac App Store, but if you prefer to do a clean install (format your hard disk and install the OS again so there is no unnecessary junk files in the system), you will need to create a Mavericks bootable USB drive (or CD if your machine still comes with a DVD-ROM)

Creating a Bootable USB

1. Download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store. The size of the installer is about 5GB, so it can take a long time, depending on your Internet connection speed.

2. Once complete, the installation process will begin automatically, just close this out since you’ll be doing a clean install.

3. Now, you will need a USB drive that is 8GB or larger; insert it and open Disk Utility on your Mac.

These are the steps needed to erase your USB drive and get it ready to become a bootable OS X Mavericks drive.

4. Follow the steps in the image above to erase your USB drive: select the drive, click the “Erase” tab, select the “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” format, name it “Mavericks” and click on Erase.

5. Close Disk Utility and open Terminal. Now you’ll need to copy and paste the below command into Terminal and press Enter.

Warning: If you already have a drive or partition named “Mavericks” connected to your computer, you must rename your USB drive to something else and then change the corresponding variable (/Volumes/Mavericks) in the above terminal command – or you could overwrite the wrong drive.

Your drive will again be erased and then Mavericks will be added. This process can take anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes to complete, so be patient. You will see “Done” and a new terminal command prompt once this step is finished.

Run this command in terminal to create a bootable OS X Mavericks drive.

Clean Install OS X Mavericks

Now all that’s left to do is restart your Mac (leaving the USB drive inserted). Hold down the Option key as soon as you hear the start up chime and select your USB drive from the boot menu (it should be named something like “Install OS X Mavericks”). Follow the on screen directions to install Mavericks. If you have more than one partition, don’t worry, you’ll be able to choose the partition where you want Mavericks installed.

The installation process will take another 45 – 60 minutes, so be prepared to wait again. If all goes well, you should now have a like new Mac computer with the newest OS X Mavericks installed on it. If you have a backup you can restore your files and applications, otherwise you can just start from scratch.

Good luck and let us know how you’re liking this new version of Mac OS X.

Image Credit: urbanbohemian


  1. Is it possible to use a bootable DVD-DL instead of a flash drive?

    1. Hi Bruno,

      It is possible, though a bit more involved. You’ll still need to download it first from the Mac App Store. Then, the directions in this link should do the trick.

  2. Hello Charnita Fance,

    Thank you for the awesome post. I just bought a 32 GB SanDisk and I’m currently making the bootable USB drive now. I just got the following info from “Terminal”

    Copying installer files to disk…
    Copy complete.
    Making disk bootable…
    Copying boot files..
    Copy complete.

    Well into the deep I go :) Thanx again!!

    1. You’re welcome. Hope all went well!

  3. Thank you! I searched it a long time.

    1. You’re welcome!

Comments are closed.

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