How to Make a Bootable Install Disk of Mac OS X Lion


Mac OS X Lion Install

Apple has released Mac OS X Lion in the Mac App Store for $30. Separately, Apple will also begin offering Lion on a USB thumb drive in Apple stores come August. Right now, you can grab Lion from the Mac App Store as a 4GB download.

After you’ve downloaded Lion, it would be wise it back up your install app so that you don’t have to re-download it next time you want to install Lion. You can also make a bootable DVD install disk of Lion to use on your other machines. Keep reading to learn how…

Step 1: Download OS X Lion from the Mac App Store.

Step 2: Once you have the “Install Mac OS X Lion” app download to your Applications folder, navigate to that app in Finder. Right click the install app and click “Show Package Contents.”

Step 3: Navigate to Contents > SharedSupport and select the “InstallESD.dmg.”

Step 4: Copy the InstallESD.dmg to your desktop.

Step 5: Now we’re going to make our bootable DVD. Open Disk Utility on your Mac (located in the Utilities folder) and find the “Burn” option.

Step 6: Select Burn and choose the InstallESD.dmg file that you saved to your desktop.

Step 7: Insert a blank DVD and let Disk Utility write to the disk. Once completed, your bootable DVD should launch as a new volume on your desktop.

That’s it! You should now have a bootable install disk of OS X Lion to use on all of your authorized Macs!

  • Dipen Patel

    Dang it! i already installed it :(

  • Fitz

    I installed also.  Any way to make a bootable disc after installation?

  • Fadhil Azman

    Time machine, I installed Lion before I read through the tutorial. Felt quite, stupid really. Before I installed Lion, I did a final backup in Time Machine. Sooo relieved I found Install Mac OS X Lion (: Burning now!

  • Jaya Prasad Rao

    Great, downloading now and going to make DVD to save some bandwidth. Thanks.

  • iPhoneMac168

    can it be installed with other Mac users without authorize user?

  • iPhoneMac168

    can it be installed as a fresh mac user?

  • Arian Darvishi

    can it be installed with other Mac users without authorize user?

  • mrjoakim

    Is it possible to make a bootable USB stick the same way?

  • Junaidkureshi

    im in between downloading another 2 hors to go, can you tell me do i have to make this disk brfore installing lion or i can also do that after the installation.

  • Bartlomiej Baraniec

    I’m thinking of getting new MacMini, they don’t have CD/DVD drive but they are shipped with Lion already installed. I have spare SSD drive so first thing I would like to do is to install SSD drive and make it my iOS drive and spare 500GB will be for data. What my are options here?

  • Junaidkureshi

    comeon cult of mac answer my question below, im about to finish download OSXLion

  • Bartlomiej Baraniec

    I’ve read somewhere that Lion will remove installation file after upgrade, so make a copy of it before installing and then you can make bootable CD

  • Junaidkureshi

    Thanx man, but if i make it before than from where i’ll start installing from the same source?

  • Junaidkureshi

    I know i sound stupid, but sounding stupid is better than becoming stupid.

  • Bartlomiej Baraniec

    Yes, after you download Lion auto install should start. Just cancel it and make Bootable CD, afterwards you can install Lion. It doesn’t really matters what you do first. You need to remember only that Lion will remove it’s installation file after upgrade.

  • PixlPop

    Damn. You should mention, that the back-up has to be performed BEFORE you do the actual installation – otherwise the installer will delete the file when the installation has completed.

    Is there a way to download the installer again? It just says “Installed” in the App Store now, making it impossible to download it again.

  • PixlPop

    Before!!! Otherwise the installer will delete the file once the installation is finished.

  • Jonny Harris

    If you option click “purchased” in the app store you have the option to reinstall and can download the install file again, hope this helps

  • PixlPop

    Not here? It just says “Installed” with no option to reinstall or anything. Not even with Opt-click or CTRL-click. Nothing.
    I have a MacBook Pro as well. Is it possible to download the installer with my Apple-ID without having to pay for it again?

  • Emil Furmaniak

    New Mini’s should come with install discs as usual for all Mac’s

  • Elko Elektro

    Luckily I´ve created a second system partition for Lion-testing. So I can download the Installer a second time on the old system …

  • Andrew Proudlove

    I made a copy of the file once it had downloaded and followed the steps to copy the installer.dmg to my computer and have managed to restore it to a Kingston 16GB USB disk following the steps in the guide. 
    I have also managed to install Lion on one of my other Macs by plugging the USB in and running the installer under Snow Leopard. Worked fine and the install went without any issues.
    The only thing that I can’t do and I don’t know why, is boot a mac from the USB disk in order to run the installer (i.e. a clean install) or the repair utilities.
    I have made sure that the USB was journaled and set as GUID before I restored the Lion image onto it but I can’t get it to work. Any ideas anyone?


  • Lynn Norris

    You can you can also make a bootable USB drive! Partition and configure your USB drive in GUID bootable disk and then restore the disk from the image above! Reboot holding down option key and install from USB drive!! It’s that easy!

  • Junaidkureshi

    how much time this cd takes to finish

  • ggore

    That’s what snagged me.   When I installed Lion there were no instructions like this on what to do if you need to install Lion on multiple computers without having each one download the whole thing.   So I let the installation on the first machine complete and found that the install file had deleted itself.    

    These instructions are still not complete and do not mention that you should close the Lion installation program when it launches, then go in and copy out the .dmg file to your desktop, a thumbdrive, wherever, so that if you need to you can use that file to install to other machines or make a backup disk or drive.

  • Haymoose

    It is too big for a 4GB flash drive. It is reported as 3.7x in Finder but alas once mounted and extracted it is well over 4GB. (Just a friendly note!)

  • VLockley

    I just found the lion installer on my time machine back up…. lucky :)

  • Fitz

    Thank you!

  • Honyant

    Or a bootable SD card (for newer iMacs or those with a card reader).

  • Asad Naqvi

    There is no DVD/CD Drive so they would not. Most likely a USB drive. 

  • Mikael Glad

    If you already have install the Lion then the installer are gone from your mac.( But not if you have it on time machine)

    But there is one thing you can do.

    1 Start App store
    2 Under purchased alt click on the Lion, then you alt click on the install button. After that the download start again.

  • schwingle

    when i do this, i get a message that says a later version is already installed, and that if I want to download this one, I must move the other to the Trash. is this a reference to the download file? if so, what is it called, and where should it be?

    thanks. :)

  • Mikael Glad


  • Yaniv Levy

    To redownload the installer on a computer running OS X Lion, press and
    hold the Option key while you click the Purchases tab. If the button to
    the right of the Install Mac OS X Lion item doesn’t change to
    “Install” and allow you to download Lion, use Spotlight to search for
    “Install Mac OS X Lion” on your computer.

  • Mikael Glad

    Sorry for late answer. When you alt click on Lion in the purchased page then you need to alt click on the install button. 

  • dstampf


    I installed Lion at work on an older iMac without any problem. Before doing so, I created a boot disk following these instructions in order to install on my Home system. (I did use my iTunes account to purchase the O/S – I was just trying to save the network congestion.)

    At home, it seemed to install, but upon reboot, I get the grey linen background with a small dialog in the middle entitled “Mac OS X utilities”. There are 4 options, none of which work:

    1) Restore from Time Machine Backup – it finds my time machine backup without any problem, but it cannot find the main disk in the imac.

    2) Reinstall Mac OS X – When this option asks me to pick a disk, it sees the disk, but says that it is locked.

    3) Get Help Online – haven’t tried that yet.

    4) disk utility – with this I have repaired the disk permissions, verified the disk and all seems ok, but options 1 and 2 above still go nowhere.

    I’ve tried to boot from my Snow Leopard disk, but it seems to not be a bootable disk (I’m a developer and burned it from the development site – I installed Snow Leopard everywhere via a double click.

    Does anyone have any clue how to get out of this? I’m about to put in a new disk and install from Leopard onward – all to save a few hours of downloading! :-(

    Any help is appreciated.


  • Daniel Silfver

    I just get the option to buy it again by following your instructions. Spotlight can’t find any files either. So how am I supposed to get hold of the file again after installation without paying for it?

  • Binith Anto

    I just bought the MBA, with Lion preinstalled.. Can I make an install disc from this to update Snow Leopard on the old system.?

  • haolema2
  • ErinsDad

    Used these directions (after download, before installation) and they worked perfectly.  The after download and before installation part is key.  I had to re-download as I had already installed on another machine.  Fortunately, our site is blessed with an OC-12 pipe…

  • jnjewlz

    If you have Time Machine running it may have caught it. Otherwise probably not as it deletes upon installation completion.

  • AndyinHawick

    … but you don’t need to extract and mount it on the flash drive; it’s the disk image itself (at 3.7GB) that needs to go on the drive.

  • AndyinHawick

    reboot holding down the Option key.

  • Rick Virmani

    If you have already installed and thereby lost your Installer downloaded package, you can re-download the installer by pressing option while clicking Purchases in the App Store, then clicking on the Install button for OS X Lion – Cheers!

  • mac_newb

    I’m a new mac convert and  just purchased a macbook pro with lion pre installed and hence do not see the Lion os x in my purchases… please help this newb…

  • Jessica Stromsky

    This is what I followed and it worked great http://howtofixstuff.blogspot….

  • Claudio Rodrigues

    Hey there. I already downloaded and installed Lion. But the weirdest thing is that it doesn’t show on my purchases tab. Any hints on that? Thx!

  • Veronica Howells

    And how do you create a boot disk if you bought a brand new Mac with Lion already installed?

  • gfhtytuier

    I know this reply comes very late but didn’t they make the recovery HD drive option(that drive option which pops up once u hold the right command key after u start ur mac) for this very problem. the solution to this problem is also given in

    just go in osx lion section and check out all its features one of its features is lion recovery!!!