Continuing with its yearly release cycle for hardware and software, Apple released macOS Sierra, version 10.12 of its popular operating system, on September 20, 2016. The download is available from Apple’s Mac App Store, and it clocks in at just under 5 GB. This macOS is supported on computers manufactured in 2010 or later.

While the process of upgrading to macOS Sierra is pretty easy for consumers, IT administrators may have a more difficult time getting this update to all the end users they support. To facilitate this upgrade process, creating a bootable USB installer drive helps get this deployed quickly for SMB environments. IT admins for enterprise environments might look toward other distribution methods, such as DeployStudio.

SEE: macOS Sierra: The smart person’s guide (TechRepublic)

Requirements for creating a bootable drive

  • 8 GB USB flash drive (or SD card)
  • Install MacOS (the installer downloaded from the Mac App Store)
  • Apple computer with Mac App Store (10.6.8+)
  • User account with administrative privileges

SEE: Screenshots: A complete roundup of new macOS Sierra features (TechRepublic)

Creating a bootable USB installer for macOS Sierra

Follow these steps to create a bootable USB installer.

1. Insert the USB flash drive into a USB port and note the volume name of the drive as it is mounted to Finder. Launch and enter the following command to kick off the process of extracting the macOS Sierra files to the USB drive. Note: All data on the USB drive will be erased (Figure A).

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/USB_DRIVE_VOLUME_NAME --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --nointeraction

Figure A

2. The drive will be erased, and then installation files will be copied to the volume (Figure B)(Figure C).

Figure B

Figure C

3. Once the process completes, you’ll receive an on-screen confirmation that the process completed successfully. To double-check, open the USB volume and verify that the macOS Sierra installer was copied to the drive (Figure D)(Figure E).

Figure D

To perform a clean install, simply insert your drive, power on the computer, and hold down the Option key to access the boot selection menu. From there, select the USB drive partition and follow the prompts to install macOS Sierra on your Mac. If you’re performing this as an upgrade, launch the Install macOS from the root of the newly created drive and follow the prompts to upgrade in a live environment.

Figure E