It's easy enough to upgrade to OS X El Capitan from the App Store, but downloading the software multiple times isn't a great idea if you have more than one Mac, or a Hackintosh. Here's how to burn El Capitan to a USB drive instead.
As with all OS X upgrades, once you run the installer on your system, it disappears from the Applications folder. You can get it back by holding down the Option key while clicking on the App Store's Purchases tab to re-download the file, but to save you time, it's best to put it on a USB before you update your Mac.
The Easy Option: Diskmaker X
As has been the case for the last few releases of OS X, the easiest method to make a USB install drive is with the free program, Diskmaker X. We're still waiting on the official update to support El Capitan, but you can finagle the old version to work pretty easily.
- Download the El Capitan installer and Diskmaker X.
- Insert an 8GB (or larger) flash drive. If you have any other data on that flash drive, back it up now, because the installer will delete everything on it.
- Start DiskMaker X, choose Yosemite from the list of options.
- Click on "Select an Install File..."
- Navigate to your Applications folder and select the Install OS X El Capitan.app file.
- Wait for Diskmaker to do its thing, this can take a while, so be patient.
When it's done, you can insert your USB drive into any Mac and then launch the installer by holding down the Option key when you boot up your computer.
The DIY Option: Terminal
If you don't want to use Diskmaker, you can burn it for yourself with no extra software and a simple Terminal command.
- Download the El Capitan installer.
Insert an 8GB (or larger) flash drive and give it a name. For this tutorial, we'll use the name
Untitled. Make sure the drive is formatted for OS X Extended (Journaled). If it isn't, open up Disk Utility and format is so it is. Before you do so, back up any important data on that drive.
- Open up Terminal (Applications > Utilities).
Type (or copy and paste) this command into Terminal, replacing
Untitledwith the name of your drive, then press Enter:
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia —volume /Volumes/Untitled —applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app —nointeraction
- Type in your password when prompted and press Enter.
Let the command line to its work and don't interrupt it until you see the final line that says
Done. This can take up to a half hour, so be patient.
When it's done, you can insert your USB drive into any Mac and the launch the installer by holding down the Option key when you boot up your computer.