How to burn an OS X Lion boot disc

Okay, so you want to buy OS X Lion, but it’s only going to be available via Apple’s Mac App Store (for US$29.99) yet you, greedy little you, want a disc for backup, booting, etc.?

Egg Freckles has posted an easy step-by-step walkthrough about how this will work, so you can stop worrying:

1. Purchase and download Lion from the Mac App Store on any Lion compatible Mac running Snow Leopard.
2. Right click on “Mac OS X Lion” installer and choose the option to “Show Package Contents.”
3. Inside the Contents folder that appears you will find a SharedSupport folder and inside the SharedSupport folder you will find the “InstallESD.dmg.” This is the Lion boot disc image we have all been waiting for.
4. Copy “InstallESD.dmg” to another folder like the Desktop.
5. Launch Disk Utility and click the burn button.
6. Select the copied “InstallESD.dmg” as the image to burn, insert a standard sized 4.7 GB DVD, and wait for your new Lion Boot Disc to come out toasty hot.

Egg Freckles reports, “With this disc you can boot any Lion compatible Mac, and install 10.7 just like you installed previous version of Mac OS X. You can even use Disk Utility’s Restore function to image your Lion boot disc image onto a external drive suitable for performing a clean install on a optical-drive-less MacBook Air, or Mac mini server.”

More info in the full article here.

[Attribution: ModMyi. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Kerrigore” for the heads up.]


  1. What’s all this crap about burning Lion on a disk? I mean what the hell is wrong with Apple these days? How much does it cost to imprint Lion on a DVD? I’ll gladly pay $5 extra for a DVD if Apple were that tightfisted. Steve, don’t let the fricking bean counters take over. That salesman bozo in Redmond is rubbing his hands in glee over this misstep.

    1. I bet the bandwidth for a 4GB download will cost them more than shipping on DVD would have.

      This about showing off the Mac App Store and creating a simple/easy/cheap upgrade so that the maximum number of users will do it.

      That said, I really feel Apple should have offered a retail disc or flash drive or something for those who want it, even if they charged more ($49, for example).

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep the “Mac Box Set” alive, though, for those who didn’t upgrade to 10.6.

    2. Really? You are going to complain about a download? Seriously? GOSH most PCs don’t even ship with Discs anymore so what is the big deal? Burn the image yourself if it is that important. For $29.99 or would you rather pay 129.99 for a boxed version? I don’t know if you heard but Optical Media is dead. Move on.

    3. “That salesman bozo in Redmond is rubbing his hands in glee over this misstep.”

      He is? I didn’t hear about that story. Would you mind providing a link to it? I just want to make sure you’re not pulling anything out of your ass.


    4. Who says it will be easy to fit the distribution on a DVD?
      If Apple makes the installer just a wee little bit larger (say 4.99GB) than the maximum capacity of a DVD, then you stand nowhere with the suggestion to burn a DVD off of it.

    5. By not allowing the possibility of a traditional sales method…Apple is going to lose many government customers.

      Maybe Apple should allow ppl to buy an OS gift card by traditional purchase methods and allow for a one time purchase of their OS’s and development tools.

      just my $0.02

    6. “… How much does it cost to imprint Lion on a DVD? I’ll gladly pay $5 extra for a DVD if Apple were that tightfisted. …”

      The things is, it’s not just $5 cost to Apple. You’re ignoring things like: building/testing/verifying/distributing the package to be pressed to disc. Designing/making/warehousing/distributing the packaging. Operations has to track all those bits/processes. Etc.

      It’s all likely to work out to about $20 by the time it gets to the end user.

      But watch the fine print around the time Lion is released, there might something interesting for those without high-speed internet.

  2. Now watch… Apple will stop this before lion is released.
    Some things likethis should wait till it’s launched..

    But this is what I wanted. I want it on a DVD or flash drive for backup.

    Only one question remains for me now, the recovery partition.. Can lion be installed without it? Is it just a default option?
    And how much does it actually take up? 8gb? 10gb? Or more for future upgrade space..

    All I want is the backup DVD, and no partition.

    1. As long ago as the early eighties, when CDs started entering the marketplace, I was already wondering what would be next. A no-moving-parts replacement was the obvious next step. (And maybe the last step in a long chain of evolving media.)

      (I was into this sort of thing professionally. Only the ‘eighty-seven world-wide stock market crash prevented me from raising $50 million for a CD manufacturing plant.)

      Now that talk is around that “optical media are dead” and the Flash drive is being touted as their replacement, I have my reservations. I wish the industry could come up with a different form-factor. Plugging in one of those dinky little USB thumb drives doesn’t excite me. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure why.

      I would’ve preferred to see something more akin to the CompactFlash card one plugs into today’s pro cameras. I hope it’s not too late for the industry to think about its next media.

      If it’s possible to design the media as thin as a credit card, that might be appealing.

      But come what may, the erasability of Flash will probably be seen as a disadvantage in cases such as the one under consideration now. Permanence is an advantage in software distribution. Or, even better, write-once. That’s the advantage that today’s DVD disks have at present, both pressed and burned.

  3. Trust me. Apple will provide a mechanism to create an image for the Lion install to a DVD. Simply downloading an install OS wont solve the multitude of issues that will arise from this deliver method.


    How to recover from a failed drive.
    How to recover from a Time Machine Backup
    How to run permissions and disk checks on the boot volume
    How to do a fresh install
    How to repair a damaged OS.
    How to recover the admin/root password

    Apple is certainly not going to make you install Snow Leopard and then re download Lion to fix a broken system. That is completely against what they believe.

    1. I realize a few items on my list can be dealt with using the recover partition. But not if you change or lose a hard disk or if the recover partition is corrupt.

    2. The Microsoft way: Install Leopard then upgrade to Snow Leopard then install the Lion Enabler then finally install Lion (but only if you have the latest CPU). All the while you need to go back to your computer every 5 minutes to click the icon “Do you wish to continue installing?”

  4. Their trying to get way from people that install their OS on other peoples Mac’s without paying for it, just like they have now have got around the thorny issue that Napster faced with illegal downloading of music.

    They say the extra partition will make it so you don’t have to use a DVD to reinstall Lion but HD’s are corruptible just like politicians so I would rather have Lion on a DVD just in case, but to get around this their going to have serialize it so that it can only be reinstalled on the Mac that it was downloaded to, thus meaning that if you download it to two different Macs you’ll have to burn two different DVD’s.

        1. im sure just like “almost” every app in the mac app store and iDevice app store you can download it to as many Macs you want as long as the app store user is logged on to the Mac…. but there is no way to prevent coders to stop making ways to get around this kind of stuff you name a program/app and if there is a coder that really wants it for free he will find a way, it sucks and i dont condone it in any way but it is a known fact.

  5. How am I going to tell the horse to go without a buggy whip?

    Seriously, I don’t think anyone will be jumping ship to Windows over this. They’ll follow along in a few years anyway. They always do!

  6. Apple Lemming now understand why old OS X so expensive, $100 DVD no practicle when downloaded bits and bytes only costing $29. Big Steve change paradigm again, shake head up and down everyone. Me like burning Lion’s.

  7. So far, for me, getting Lion developer versions from the App Store has worked just fine. But I also like the idea of having a boot drive on USB or a disc image available.

    1. Even if it isn’t “cleaned” up for novice users.

      There will be YouTube vids and step by step pictorials on some website showing you exactly how to do it.

      On a 10 scale this would be a 2-3 as it is now. The vids/pictorials will make it a 1 easily.

      And what someone said above:
      It’s to show off the Mac app store, and it’s a green spec they can shove out there for the environmentalists.

      If they did make a box.. They may get the matell treatment, poster hanging off the building bashing them.

  8. This makes a lot of sense. I figured there’d be a boot disc in the download.

    Does anybody know if using this boot disc allows you to then install on any compatible Mac, and run that Mac without somehow logging in with your iTunes account?

    Not that I plan on pirating. It’s way too cheap for that, but it’s comforting to know that there’s no DRM involved, especially one that involved utilizing my iTunes account for the OS itself.

    1. You could just copy the installer to a thumb drive and walk it over to the other machine. Likely it will prompt you for your App Store credentials before install. Having to re download on each individual Mac is counter intuitive.

  9. The author is obviously basing this procedure on one of the Developer Previews. I’m sure there will still be a lot of changes between the latest Developer Preview and the final product, and one of those changes could be the existence of this “InstallESD.dmg” file (which sounds like something that a “developer” would find useful).

  10. Sure Apple could sell you the DVD version but that will cost you $129.
    Providing a brand new OS for $29 is amazing. Having to burn a bootable disk is not a big deal. I actually prefer the zip drive approach or even on my back up drive.
    Also downloading the file took less than an hour for me. Way faster than driving to the store or waiting for it to be shipped.

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