Software

How to edit Boot Camp to install Windows from a USB flash drive

Tired of burning DVDs to install Windows 7 or later in Boot Camp? If so, with a bit of editing, you can get it to use USB flash drives instead.

Image: Apple

One of the great features of using a Mac in recent times has been the ability to install Windows and some other operating systems and use applications written for them without any boundaries. Unfortunately, the process of installing Windows on a Mac is still stuck in the dark ages for all users except those running the newest hardware that does not require optical media.

Users with older gear to even recently released MacBook Pros and iMacs are denied using a USB flash drive, though every Apple computer made since Boot Camp's inception in 2006 has had at least one usable USB port. With a few well-placed edits, you can force Boot Camp to evolve with the times. Follow along the three-step process.

Step 1: Get Model Strings

1. Open System Report, Applications | Utilities | System Information.app

2. Make a note of the Model Identifier and Boot ROM Version and save these for the next section (Figure A).

Figure A

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

Step 2: Edit Boot Camp .plist

1. To make the modifications to modernize Boot Camp, you'll need to edit the .plist file for the app. Before committing any changes, let's first make a backup of the file just in case. Open Terminal and execute the command below.

sudo cp /Applications/Utilities/Boot\ Camp\ Assistant.app/Contents/Info.plist /Applications/Utilities/Boot\ Camp\ Assistant.app/Contents/Info.plist.backup

2. With a backup created, proceed to edit the file within Terminal by executing the command below (Figure B).

sudo nano /Applications/Utilities/Boot\ Camp\ Assistant.app/Contents/Info.plist

Figure B

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

3. Scroll down the list until you reach the section labeled DARequiredROMVersions. Remembering the information collected in the first section, copy and paste the Boot Rom Version on that list. Be sure to include the <string></string> tags, which signify to open and close an entry (Figure C).

Figure C

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

4. Scroll down to the PreUSBBootSupportedModels section and copy and paste the Model Identifier information in that section.

5. Delete the word Pre from the section to leave it as USBBootSupportedModels (Figure D).

Figure D

bootcampfunctionalityfigd020916.jpg
Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

6. Add the Model Identifier to the PreESDRequiredModels and PreUEFIModels sections as well (Figure E).

Figure E

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

7. Remove the entire Win7OnlyModels section, including the strings as highlighted (Figure F).

Figure F

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

8. To save your changes, press Ctrl+X. At the exit prompt, type Y to acknowledge you'd like to save, and then press Enter to save the file. The file will be closed upon saving and you'll return to the Terminal prompt.

Step 3: Sign the .plist file and launch Boot Camp

1. With our model information stored and the file updated, enter the following command to sign the file and make it executable in OS X.

sudo codesign -fs - /Applications/Utilities/Boot\ Camp\ Assistant.app

2. When complete, quit Terminal and launch Boot Camp. You should see that Boot Camp offers to create a Windows 7 or later installer and requires a USB drive and ISO image of the Windows OS (Figure G).

Figure G

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

3. The following page will request the location of an ISO image that will be used to create the USB installer for your version of Windows; Boot Camp will use that drive to install Windows on your Mac (Figure H).

Figure H

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Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

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About

Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 15 years of experience and multiple certifications from seve...

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