Gone are the days of installing Windows from those cranky looking DVDs. Nowadays, in order to get a bootable USB drive, all you need is an ISO file and some software.
The following guide lays out the process on How to Create a Bootable USB Drive for macOS as well as on Windows
In macOS Mojave Boot Camp Assistant is no longer able to create bootable Windows USB drives. So, in this guideline, I’ll show you how to do it by using the Terminal, no additional software needed.
- Connect a USB drive to your Mac, then open a Terminal window and type diskutil list. This will display all the disks connected to your Mac. You should find the disk identifier of the USB drive that you connected. In my case, the USB drive is mounted as “disk2” and it shows the size of 31GB.
- Now we need to format that USB drive in MS-DOStype. Let’s name it “W10” where the Xis the disk identifier the USB drive. Here’s the command:
diskutil eraseDisk MS-DOS “W10” GPT diskX
- Now we need to mount the Windows 10 ISO image (let’s assume it’s in the Download folder). In my case, the ISO image name is windows_10.iso. Here’s the command:
hdiutil mount ~/Downloads/windows_10.iso
The underlined string is the path of mounted ISO image, we’ll need in the next step.
- Finally, we need to copy all the files from the image to our USB drive. Here’s the command:
cp -rp /Volumes/CPBA_X64FRE_RU-RU_DV9/* /Volumes/W10
Now we need to wait while all files will be copied…
- Once finished, you can unmount the Windows 10 ISO with the following command:
hdiutil unmount /Volumes/CPBA_X64FRE_RU-RU_DV9
After all the steps, you should be able to boot from that USB disk and proceed with the Windows 10 installation.
On Windows PC
Microsoft offers its own tool called Windows to Go, which can generate a bootable Windows USB drive. However, that program works only with the Enterprise and Education versions of Windows 10 and requires a certified Windows to Go drive. A better (and free) option is a utility called WinToUSB, which can create a bootable drive from any version of the operating system and on any type of USB drive.
From Windows 10
First, sign in to your current Windows 10 computer to create a Windows 10 ISO file that will be used to install Windows 10 onto the USB drive.
To do this, browse to the Download Windows 10 website. This site offers the latest edition of Windows 10, which at this point is the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, or Windows 10 version 1809. Click the Download tool now button. Then double-click the downloaded MediaCreationTool.exe file to install the tool.
At the first screen for “Applicable notices and license terms,” click the Access button. Then click the option to “Create installation media for another PC” and click Next. At the “Select language, architecture, and edition” screen, confirm that all of the options are correct and then click Next.
You will then need to choose what media you want to use. Given the option between a USB flash drive and an ISO file, click ISO file. Then click Next.
Choose a location on your hard drive to store the Windows.iso file. Click Save. Windows 10 generates the necessary ISO file. When the process is done, click Finish.
Running WinToUSB (With Caveats)
Next, it’s time to enlist the aid of WinToUSB. This program is effective and user-friendly, but it suffers from one major drawback.
The free version does not support the current flavor of Windows 10 — specifically the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, or Windows 10 version 1809. And Microsoft no longer offers older ISO files of Windows 10 at its download site. If you want to make a USB copy of Windows 10 version 1809 using WinToUSB, you’ll have to shell out $29.95 for the Professional version.
However, there is a trick that will let you download an ISO file of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, or Windows 10 version 1803, which you can use with the free version of WinToUSB. (Kudos to technology writer Mauro Huculak for revealing this option in an article at Pureinfotech.com.) Here’s how it works.
Open your browser. Copy and paste the following URL in the address bar: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO.
Yes, that takes you to Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 website. But wait, there’s more. Right-click on the page and select “Inspect element” to open the page’s code.
In the right pane, click the down arrow on the top menu bar and select the option for Emulation.
In the Mode section, open the drop-down menu for User-agent string and change the entry to Apple Safari (iPad).
The page in the left pane should automatically refresh. If not, refresh it manually. Click the drop-down menu for Select edition and select the option for the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Click Confirm.
At the next screen, choose your language, then click Confirm. On the Downloads page, choose the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update and then click Save to download the file. After the file has been downloaded, change the User agent string in Edge from Apple Safari (iPad) back to Microsoft Edge (Default). Close the right pane by clicking the X.
Create the USB Drive
Now, let’s move over to WinToUSB to create the USB drive. Download and install the WinToUSB software from its dedicated website. You can start with the free version and then decide if you want to upgrade to the $29.95 Professional version to gain more features or use the software with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.
Next, connect a blank USB flash drive or stick to your computer. Launch WinToUSB from its Start menu shortcut. At the introductory screen, click the button to the right of the Image File field and choose your ISO file for the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Then select the version of Windows 10 you wish to clone onto the USB stick. Click Next.
At the next screen, you will need to determine your destination disk. Open the drop-down menu and choose your USB drive. A message pops up asking you to select a partition scheme. Click the option for “MBR for BIOS” and then click Yes.
At the next screen, click the option for Legacy to choose the Installation mode. Click Next. Your Windows 10 USB stick will now be created.
When the installation process reaches 100 percent, indicating that it’s finished, close the WinToUSB program and remove the USB drive.
Launch Windows 10 on a Different Computer
When you want to launch Windows 10 on a different computer, insert your USB drive into that PC and choose the option to boot up off the USB drive.
The first time you run Windows 10 off the USB drive, you’ll need to go through the familiar Windows setup process. You’ll also need to activate Windows 10. You can then install apps onto the USB drive and access any files or documents stored online, so the experience comes close to working on one of your own Windows 10 PCs.
- Download Windows 10 ISO file from its website. I am going to download (clicking the link will start the download) an alternate version (16.04.4) and not the latest version. This choice is primarily driven by data science and computer vision projects that I intend to do. Use the version that works best for you. We need an iso file.
- Download Rufus from its website.
- Run the Rufus executable file you downloaded to launch the application.
- Select the drive. Click on “SELECT” to choose the Ubuntu iso file that you downloaded earlier.
- You can change the Partition Scheme and Target system based on whether the system you are going to install Windows 10 on supports UEFI or only BIOS. You can make changes to other settings here according to your requirements. When you are done, click on “START”.
- Depending on your system and the Rufus version, you might get a message for some download requirements. Just click on “Yes”.
- Select the ISO Image mode (Recommended) and click OK to continue.
- You might get a warning that all data will be erased if you would have selected ‘Quick Format’ in the settings. (It’s selected by default). Click on OK to continue.
- It will take a while to create the USB drive. It took about an hour in my case.
These are essentially the ways on How to Create a Bootable USB Drive. You can scavenge the internet and look for free ISO files or torrent the files.
All you need to search is a .iso file and you are good to go.