Home > Tutorials > Boot MacOS X86 from USB Pendrive

Boot MacOS X86 from USB Pendrive

Have you ever dreamed about carrying in your pocket,
your favorite OSx86 install. And boot it everywhere.
When dreams come true…

Before you start

You will need the following stuff:

  • USB pendrive (min. 2 GB required)
  • JaS Mac OS X 10.4.x or 10.4.7 Retail DVD
  • Pacifist software (www.charlessoft.com)

Format the pendrive

Plugin your USB pendrive and open Disk Utility (Applications->Utilities).

Select your pendrive device in the left menu, and click the partition tab.
Enter a nice name for your device like osx86.

Hit Options… button, and choose Master Boot Record.
From the drop-down, choose 1 partition as the volume scheme.

Be sure the filesystem is Mac OS Extended (Journaled),
Hit the Partition button.

Next, we need to enable Owners, open a Terminal and type:

sudo /usr/sbin/vsdbutil -a /Volumes/osx86

Install OSx86

Mount the JaS 10.4.x DVD or the Retail 10.4.7 DVD (I used retail).
Browse to the directory System/Installation/Packages on the DVD.
Open OSInstall.mpkg with pacifist (right-click->Open With Pacifist).

Expand Contents of EssentialSystemSoftware, then expand Contents of

Select Contents of BaseSystem.pkg and Contents of Essentials.pkg and
right-click and choose Install to Other disk…
Choose your pendrive (osx86) and hit the install button. Now be patient :-)

Now depending on what DVD you used, you will need to download the
right update from apple.com. I downloaded the 10.4.8 Intel update since I used
10.4.7 retail DVD.

Open MacOSXUpd10.4.8Intel.pkg with Pacifist and install to Other disk…

N.B.: Before installing the update, you may need to free some space on the pendrive.
Just delete the asiatic font files in /System/Library/Fonts (= 100 MB bonus).

Add missing files

Since we installed with Pacifist, some of the files are missing. We need to copy them.
Get them from a full 10.4.8 working install. Those files are:

/Applications/Address Book.app

Copy OSx86 specific files

You need to replace the following files:

/mach_kernel by semthex SSE3 or SSE2 kernel



Add this for PS2 keyboard/mouse:


Put all your custom kext you use on your working install.

Do not forget to chmod -R 755 and chown -R root:wheel all files you copy.

Make the pendrive bootable

Be sure that you have bless version 24.0 from 10.4.4.
Any other version of bless won’t work.
Run bless -version in Terminal to check version.

sudo bless

Share this post!


Earn money - Accomplish a freelance project

Freelance Jobs

Related Posts

Categories: Tutorials Tags:
  • david

    check this out

  • Greg Colker

    Would it be possible to create a partition on an external hard drive… say an iPod and boot from that???

  • Charles

    Can someone upload the files (preferably zipped) for those of us that don’t have a Mac to be able to copy to our pendrives, please? Thanks.

  • kevin

    I’ve had an ipod that booted OSX independently for years, thats trivial.

  • esnetsc

    That what I did with a ipod and 10.5 Leapord.


  • Antonio Pratas

    Yes, if it was possible for someone to upload the files, I would be most thankfull. Btw, for those of us that don’t own a 2GB pen, can’t the same files be placed in a dvd? I believe that it’s the same loading procedure so that should be no problem, and it would create the possibility to have a live cd of Mac OS.

  • allan

    can someone point me to the kexts required? Thanks.

  • http://fourmargins.com Henrik Lied

    So Bless version 46.1 won’t work?

    If so, where can I get Bless 24.0?

  • hayroob

    i got it out of my 10.4.5 disc. It’s wee so i could email it.

  • J.J.

    I got most of this done…but how do you get the mach_kernel on the drive? Can you offer complete Terminal commands for the rest of this? Some of the directions assume Unix knowledge, while others run step by step. Please help!

  • http://www.macgeekblog.com/ skr3dii

    @ J.J: Assuming the mach_kernel file is on your desktop.
    Open Terminal and type:

    cd Desktop
    sudo -s
    cp -r mach_kernel /Volumes/osx86/mach_kernel
    chmod -R 755 /Volumes/osx86/mach_kernel
    chown -R root:wheel /Volumes/osx86/mach_kernel

  • J.J.

    skr3dii, thanks a lot. Ever since I posted this, I was reading up on Unix and Darwin and how to use it effectively…I will try that when I get home on the Mac. I figured out how to copy, but I couldnt figure out where the pendrive was located, I was ‘cd ..’ a lot and the ‘ld’ a lot to see if I could find where the drive was…so now that you
    showed its in Volumes…that helps a lot. Slowly but surely, I will understand Unix.

  • J.J.

    So, how does one change the boot options in BIOS?

  • Antonio Pratas

    I keep my question, would really appreciate if someone could answer it. Is it possible to create a DVD that boots osx like a pen?

  • http://www.macgeekblog.com/ skr3dii

    @ Antonio Pratas: What you want is called a live dvd. It’s really not the same technic as everything is loaded in memory and not is persistent. this is slower and less attractive than the usb pendrive method. But maybe I’ll discuss this later in another post.

  • Clinton

    So, is this only good for USB Pen Drives or could you also use a regular old USB Hard Drive? Of course you could use a regular HD right? Why couldn’t you?

  • http://www.macgeekblog.com/ skr3dii

    @Clinton: The purpose here was to have a working and booting OSX86 install on the smaller device possible. Of course you can install this on a HD, but can you carry your HD in your pocket? Unless it is a pocket HD which is much more expensive than a USB pendrive.

  • putz3000

    even though this is to allow a person to boot osx from any pc / any location (that is bootable by usb), would it be fair to say it must be INTEL based and not AMD based system?

  • modbin

    nice tut :D

    if you want a 10.4.8 live dvd go here:

  • http://www.macgeekblog.com/ skr3dii

    @putz3000: you will need to replace/patch some more files to get this running on AMD.
    @modbin: I pm-ed you on insanelymac.com forums :)

  • Mark

    I couldn’t find the kernel extensions mentioned on the osx dvd.

    And when I boot to the USB, it just shows a dash character.

  • Tony

    I’ve got all steps completed up to the section titled “First Boot”. Can you please add additional detail on what to do in this section? Specifically, I don’t know who to specify the boot flags “mach_kernel -v rd=disk1s1″

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • http://www.macgeekblog.com/ skr3dii

    @Tony: You need to plug the USB dongle and boot from a working OSX86 system you installed on your HD. To access the boot options, just press F8 when booting. Good luck!

  • Priyaa ramalingham

    it is very usefull

  • xayide

    Is there any torrent for the Live DVD?

  • http://art5dog.com goodtime

    Nice post. I am trying something like this myself. I was able to find a 4 GB thumb drive at Best Buy for around 70 bucks. Might seem a little pricey, but I had a gift card for 50 bucks, so 10 was nothing. :)

    Anyways, I am testing some various installs this week including a thin i386 client. It doesn’t run Rosetta this way, but I am trying to get an emergency boot installer to be as small as possible. 4GB can get eaten up fast with Disk Caches’ etc.


  • http://art5dog.com goodtime

    Got my 4GB Thumb driver running. But after doing just one software update my 1GB that I had free got eaten up right away. Disk cache, Page Ins, etc. I am looking into how the LiveDVD project is going and might use of a LivePenDrive-Hybrid. Have some of tasks that run slow of the Pen Drive like Disk Caching and have those inside a RAM disk. Bridge
    the gap to make the Pen/Thumb Drive experience better and try to reduce the Thumb Drive from filling up for Caching (which you really don’t want a disk cache on the Thumb drive. My experience so far is nothing but slow!)


  • kanav

    my macbook hdd crashed
    and the damn dvd rom isnt working either
    is there any way i can get my laptop to start working
    i have the original mac os x 10.4 cds
    i have an 80 gb external hard disk
    i have my brothers mac running 10.4 agn
    i have a 4 gb ipod nano
    i have an external dvd writer with casing ( usb )
    plz help me and tell me what i should do to fix the laptop
    it s a 13.3 inch macbook

  • http://www.macgeekblog.com/blog/archive/2008/07/09/most-popular-macgeekblog-posts-top-10.html Most Popular MacGeekBlog Posts (Top 10) » Mac OSx86

    [...] Boot OSx86 from a pendrive 2. Leopard 10.5 running on a PC 3. JaS 10.4.8 Intel/AMD combo SSE2/SSE3! 4. ATV4mac 1.5.1 [...]

  • lord Byron


    an iPod is an external harddrive.
    so OF COURSE you can boot from it.

    a flash drive is something entirely different.

    Glory to you!

    btw, I have personal shot, using a Remington 870, 17 iPods.

    I am cleansing the world.

  • ali asif


  • punisher

    Lord Byron, you are the idiot… an ipod is NOT a gard drive asshole, it just has flash memory, like any flash drive. you really are a complete moron, change your name, you clearly do it no justice since you are an idiot.

  • kwood129

    @punisher. Please tell me you didn’t just say that to Lord Byron. You do realize until last year all regular Ipod’s were hard drive based right? Until the touch they all had a hard drive so I would guess that was what he was talking about. It’s a pretty powerful statement to call someone a moron without even thinking about this.

  • as myself

    @kwood129. I’ve personally replaired ipod nanos, which DO have solid state drives (flash), NOT HARD DRIVES. you do owe punisher an apology. no one said how old the nano was.

  • oleum

    Being picky?
    OK well ALL nanos have flash memory none have ever had hard drives.

  • rafat

    thanks :
    this is very interesting
    is it possible to make tow operating system (mac os + linux ) on one USB flash disk
    if yes .can any body make that. and make an image to use it with deferent usb flash

    thanks alot
    waiting for an answer
    I wish to download it from yhis sit

  • spartango

    FYI: 10.5.x Live DVD is available thanks to LiveDVD team at insanelymac. It works off a pendrive as well, and is fast. The method is on the forum, or you can download the iPC distro from a torrent.

  • Duco

    Hello, How can i install it on a USB stick whit XP or Vista?

  • rajiv

    i installed MAC leopard on my intel PC it is 2.4 core 2 duo, intel 945 motherboard, 120 gb segate HDD. there is only one big problem that it boots only from the MAC dvd only please give me the solution i am very upset only because of this because i promised my Girlfriend that i will install MAC os on her PC. so please solve my problem as soon as possible.

  • Too Funny

    Yeah rajiv, we’re very sorry the Internets didn’t solve your problem as fast as you wished it would be but we are hoping you’re girlfriend still likes you even though we didn’t solve your problem in time.

    Please accept our appologies, however, the best advise we can give is: buy a MAC!

  • http://uduogah.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/links-for-2009-12-16/ links for 2009-12-16 « Where Is All This Leading To?

    [...] Mac OSx86 » Boot MacOS X86 from USB Pendrive (tags: macosx howto backup flashdrive from macos usb flash osx86 hackintosh x86 bootable install hack apple computer tutorial software osx flags pendrive drive project os mac) [...]

  • czx

    Ever since the [url=http://www.raybansunglassesonsales.com/]sunglasses[/url] became a necessity in summer, [url=http://www.raybansunglassesonsales.com/]ray ban sunglasses[/url] has been in fashion and it’s now essential to sunglasses lovers. Among all its products, the [url=http://www.raybansunglassesonsales.com/ray-ban-3025-sunglasses-45.html]Ray Ban 3025[/url], [url=http://www.raybansunglassesonsales.com/ray-ban-2132-sunglasses-46.html]Ray Ban 2132[/url] , and [url=http://www.raybansunglassesonsales.com/ray-ban-2140-sunglasses-47.html]Ray Ban Wayfarer[/url] are the most popular and beloved ones. [url=http://www.raybansunglassesonsales.com/ray-ban-2143-sunglasses-48.html]cheap sunglasses[/url] including all the aboving collections are provided at our on-line shop.

  • czx

    We provide the best sellers of Police Sunglasses , including such series as Police 5161 ,Police 8827 ,Police 9808 ,Police JD3046 ,Police P366 ,Police Polarizer . They are not only popular but also classic, and they will surely make you charming and handsome.

  • czx

    Ever since the sunglasses became a necessity in summer, ray ban sunglasses has been in fashion and it’s now essential to sunglasses lovers. Among all its products, the Ray Ban 3025, Ray Ban 2132 , and Ray Ban Wayfarer are the most popular and beloved ones. cheap sunglasses including all the aboving collections are provided at our on-line shop.

  • http://www.gpscardvd.com cardvdgps

    Nice post. I am trying something like this myself.

  • http://www.freeflash.co.in Flash Tutorial

    Its very useful information. Great job

  • Brady

    Can you do this on Windows?

  • jordan retro 11 for sale

    i installed MAC leopard on my intel PC it is 2.4 core 2 duo, intel 945 motherboard, 120 gb segate HDD. there is only one big problem that it boots only from the MAC dvd only please give me the solution i am very upset only because of this because i promised my Girlfriend that i will install MAC os on her PC. so please solve my problem as soon as possible.

  • Bart


  • Nepo

    What do you mean?

  • http://www.collectcheaps.com collectcheaps

    cool information. thanks 

  • tom_m

    Does this work for newer OS X versions??

  • yjj

    WOW, great tutorial

  • bbgun7

    does this work with Mavericks?