How to make an OS X recovery USB drive

“It’s a good idea to have a bootable emergency drive on hand, just in case disaster strikes your Mac,” Matt Cone writes for Macinstruct.

“An emergency drive (also referred to as an OS X Recovery Disk) can help you repair the hard disk, reinstall the operating system, and restore from a Time Machine backup to get your computer back fast,” Cone writes. “With previous versions of OS X, you could have used the installation DVD to fix problems. But OS X Mountain Lion is sold in the App Store as a digital download — no physical disk is provided. What’s a maintenance-minded Mac user to do?”

Cone writes, “Create your own bootable OS X USB drive, of course! It’s easy, and if you’ve already purchased OS X and have a USB drive that’s 1 GB or larger, it’s completely free. Carry it in your pocket or put it on your keychain so it’s available if the worst-case scenario occurs. You’ll thank yourself for taking the time to complete this project.”

Complete instructions in the full article here.


  1. More importantly how do you un create 1.
    I used the Apple recovery USB creation tool on a 64GB USB drive after 2 hours it failed and now I have a brand new 64GB USB drive that is permanently locked. I have tried every method known ago man to format this somI could reuse it but no luck.

    1. USB drives are too costly and slow.

      Use a small capacity standard 2.5″ hard drive in an external case. Much more reliable, partitionable, etc.

      Super Duper or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone is all else that is needed.

      1. My employer provides us free USB drives to carry about the workplace.

        I’ve have to be a complete idiot to buy a 2.5″ hard drive in an external case, not to mention an utter Wally to stick one in my pocket 8 hours a day.

    1. trondude offers the most robust solution.

      Note that the USB backup rigamarole is for OS 10.7 and later users. For Snow Leopard 10.6 and earlier, keep your original startup disks and enjoy the fact that you don’t need to spend another $10 for the system restore disk that used to come _free_ with the OS..

      … yes, i still find Lion and Mtn. Lion to be DOWNGRADES.

      1. Mike, trondude’s solution works great when your external drive is with you. I always carry a USB flash drive with me when I’m away from home. That drive, in addition to having the same OS version as my laptop, has things like TechTool Pro and DiskWarrior installed—just in case.

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