How to Create a macOS Monterey Bootable USB

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Create mac bootable usb

If you’d like to learn how to create a bootable installer for macOS Monterey, the twelfth version of Apple’s operating system, then this article has you covered. Having macOS Monterey on a bootable USB drive may come in handy in many different situations, and the steps to get there are not that complicated to follow.

To successfully create a bootable USB from Mac, you’ll need the following:

  • Mac computer compatible with macOS Monterey (all Macs capable of running macOS Big Sur can also run macOS Monterey except for mid-2013 and early 2014 MacBook Air, late 2013 and mid-2014 MacBook Pro, mid-2014 and late 2014 iMac, and early 2015 MacBook).
  • USB flash drive with a storage capacity of at least 16 GB.
  • A reasonably fast connection to the internet.

Do you have everything you need? If so, then we can dive deep into the process of creating a bootable USB drive on Mac.

Why It’s Useful to Know How to Make a Bootable USB on Mac?

mac external usb

Mac users enjoy a hassle-free upgrade process that, for the most part, eliminates the need to fumble with installation media. When a new version of macOS is released, you simply go to System Preferences, click Software Update, and let the installer do its job.

Still, there are some situations when having a bootable flash drive with macOS at hand comes in handy:

  • Installing macOS without re-downloading it: macOS Monterey is around 12 GB large. If you have multiple Macs, then it makes sense to install it on each machine from a single macOS USB installer, instead of downloading it separately every time.
  • Using built-in recovery tools: Bundled with the macOS installer are useful recovery tools that you can use to troubleshoot and fix all kinds of issues. For example, you can regain access to a Mac that’s refusing to boot or recover files that seem to be lost.
  • Performing a clean installation: One reason why users like macOS is that it doesn’t degrade over time, becoming slower and less reliable. But that doesn’t mean performing a clean installation doesn’t have its advantages because it does. One important advantage is getting rid of junk apps and files that have accumulated over time so that you can start over with a clean slate.

Of course, there’s value in knowing how to create a bootable USB on Mac even if you don’t have any use for the resulting bootable USB drive yourself. It’s possible that someone you know will in the future, and you’ll be able to help them when the time comes.

How to Download the macOS Monterey Installer?

macos monterey cover

Apple distributes major versions of macOS via the Mac App Store. A new version becomes available for download as soon as it’s officially released. You can then simply open the App Store app on your Mac, enter the name of the macOS version you want to download in the search bar (like “macOS Big Sur”), and click the Get button to download it to your Applications folder.

The only problem is that macOS Monterey hasn’t been officially released yet. The successor to macOS Big Sur is expected to be released later this year, but we don’t know when exactly. Until that happens, your only option is the free public beta version.

To download the macOS 12 Monterey public beta installer:

  1. Sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program.
  1. Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility to enroll your Mac for access to the public beta.
  2. Open the downloaded file and follow the instructions to complete the installation process.macos public beta utility
  3. Go to System Preferences > Software Update and download macOS Monterey beta.system update macos monterey
  4. Cancel the installation of macOS Monterey beta once the download is complete.

You will be left with the macOS Monterey installer app in your Applications folder, and that’s all you need to actually download macOS to your USB flash drive.

Warning: Back Up Your Mac to Avoid Losing Important Data

While the likelihood of something going catastrophically wrong when creating a bootable macOS Monterey USB drive is slim, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, which is why we recommend you back up your Mac before you proceed.

There are many different backup software tools that you can use, but the one that’s already on your computer, Time Machine, gets the job done well enough. If you haven’t configured Time Machine yet, this is what you need to do:

  1. Connect an external backup drive to your Mac.
  2. Open System Preferences and go to Time Machine.
  3. Click the Select Backup Disk button.time machine backup setup
  4. Choose your Time Machine backup drive.
  5. Erase the drive if it has an incompatible file system, but make sure to back up all files that are still stored on it first.
  6. Wait for Time Machine to back up your Mac.

Now that your Mac is backed up, you can go ahead and create a bootable installer for macOS Monterey.

How to Create a Bootable Installer for macOS Monterey?

Let’s take a look at two methods for making a bootable USB with macOS Monterey on Mac. The first method takes advantage of Apple’s own USB creation tool, while the second method relies on a third-party app called Disk Drill.

The main reason to use Disk Drill instead of Apple’s own USB creation tool is that its far easier to because of its graphical user interface. Besides the ability to boot Mac from a USB drive, Disk Drill comes with a whole host of other features and capabilities, mainly the ability to recover hundreds of file formats from all kinds of storage devices.

Method 1: Create a Bootable USB Using Disk Drill

With Disk Drill, creating a bootable USB drive with macOS Monterey is a matter of a few simple clicks:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill from the official website.
  2. Connect a suitable USB flash drive to your Mac.
  3. Launch Disk Drill from Applications and select the macOS Installer option from the left pane.
  4. Choose the macOS Monterey installer file by clicking the Add macOS installer button and choosing the Locate installer on disk option.disk drill add macos installer
  5. Choose your USB flash drive and let Disk Drill make it bootable for you.

Video Tutorial

Method 2: Run “createinstallmedia” in Terminal

Assuming you’ve downloaded the macOS Monterey installer, you can go ahead and run the “createinstallmedia” command in Terminal to create a bootable USB drive:

  1. Connect a suitable USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Launch Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities and write down the name of the USB drive. Feel free to rename it to something that can be easily memorized.macos bootable usb disk utility
  3. Launch the Terminal app from Applications > Utilities.
  4. Paste the following command and hit Return (make sure to change the name of the USB drive):
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Monterey\ beta.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/NAME_OF_YOUR_USB_DRIVE --nointeraction

createinstallmedia command macos

When the progress bar reaches 100%, your macOS Monterey USB flash is ready, and you can disconnect it from your Mac if you want to.

How to Start Mac from a USB Drive with Bootable macOS Monterey?

Now that you have a bootable version of macOS Monterey on your USB drive, you may be wondering how to install macOS from it. Well, that depends on whether you have a Mac with an Intel CPU or Apple Silicon:

Intel CPU:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Restart your Mac with the OPTION key pressed.option key mac jpg
  3. Select the macOS Monterey installer from the boot menu.

Apple Silicon:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Turn off your Mac.
  3. Press and hold the power button until you see a boot menu.power key mac jpg
  4. Select the macOS Monterey startup disk from the boot menu.

Fortunately, that’s where the differences between Intel and Apple Silicon Macs end. To perform a clean install of the operating system, you’ll need to erase the target drive and follow the installation instructions.

If everything goes right (and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t), you can expect macOS Monterey to be installed and running in around one hour, depending on the performance of your Mac, of course.

Conclusion

In this article, we explained how to install macOS Monterey on a USB flash drive using a Terminal utility provided by Apple and a third-party app called Disk Drill. Regardless of which of these two methods you decided to use, we hope that you were able to go through all steps without any issues. The only thing left now is to put the bootable USB flash drive to good use.