How-To: Create a bootable hackintosh-ready Mac OS X Lion USB flash drive

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If you’ve ever wanted to install Mac OS X onto your PC (known as hackintoshing), then now’s a great time to do so. Never before has hackintoshing been any easier, and compatibility for hardware is growing all the time (especially for newer components).

This post will guide you through the process of creating a hackintosh-ready USB drive with Mac OS X Lion 10.7.0 (or 10.7.1) on it so that you can use it to bootup just about any PC into the Lion installer. After that, you’ll be able to install Lion.

This post also contains a video how-to just in case you’d like to follow along with the written guide.

This guide was based off of THIS guide by MaLd0n on InsanelyMac. Some of it seemed slightly messy and not detailed, so I made my own guide.

 

Requirements

  • A computer with Mac OS X already on it – The reason for this is that we need to prepare the USB drive, and the only way to do this is within Mac OS X. So, you’re going to need to use somebody’s Mac for a while. You can also use Mac OS X inside of VMware Workstation (Windows or Linux), OR on your current hackintosh (if you have one). The bottom line is that you’re going to need some machine (again, it doesn’t need to be a Mac) to do this.
  • An 8GB (or larger) USB flash drive – I tried this on a 4GB flash drive, and it barely fails to meet the space requirements.
  • THIS file – Inside of that ZIP file are 3 other ZIP files that will be used.
  • Mac OS X Lion 10.7 (or 10.7.1) DMG – You can download this from the Mac App Store. The DMG itself is located in Install Mac OS X Lion.app/Contents/SharedSupport. It’ll be best to move this file to your desktop.
  • About 20-30 minutes of time – Most of the time will be used up when copying files over to your flash drive. Using a USB 3.0 flash drive will speed things up quite a bit.
  • An already ready hard drive (or SSD) – You obviously need to install Lion to, so you’re going to need a hard drive or a solid-state drive that’s already partitioned and ready to go. You’ll be formatting the drive or partition in Disk Utility from the Lion installer, so you don’t need to specifically choose the filesystem just yet.

 

Before starting, please read through the requirements and the instructions at least two times so that you can get a good idea as to what you’ll be doing and what you’ll be needing. You’ll thank yourself later :) .

 

Instructions

  1. Open Disk Utility (Spotlight, or /Applications/Utilities).
  2. Select your USB drive’s partition in the left sidebar (the one that you’d like to put Lion on).
  3. Go to the “Erase” tab.
  4. For the format, set it to “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”, give it a label, and click on the erase button.
  5. Open Terminal.
  6. Mount “InstallESD.dmg”, which can be found by looking at requirement 4 above.
  7. Run the following command: open /Volumes/Mac\ OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.dmg
  8. Go back to Disk Utility.
  9. Click on the “Restore” tab.
  10. For the source, drag “Mac OS X Base System” from your desktop into the source box.
  11. For the destination, drag your USB drive into the destination box.
  12. Click on the restore button. This process will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, depending on the speed of your USB flash drive. At the end of the process, the label of your flash drive’s partition will change to “Mac OS X Base System”. Keep track of which is which, as there are now 2 “drives” labeled that.
  13. Go to your USB drive in Finder, navigating to /System/Installation.
  14. There should be a “Packages” symlink (which are basically shortcuts/links to another file or directory), so delete it.
  15. Create a folder named “Packages”.
  16. Go back to Terminal.
  17. Run the following command: open /Volumes/Mac\ OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/Packages
  18. Copy all of the files in the new Finder window over to the empty Packages folder that you created in step 15 above.
  19. Extract all of the files from requirement 3 above to your desktop.
  20. Open Extra Lion DP4 GM.pkg.zip, which will add Extra Lion DP4 GM.pkg to your desktop.
  21. Open Extra Lion DP4 GM.pkg, installing the software to your USB drive.
  22. Open Chameleon_2.0_RC5_r1083.pkg.zip, which will add Chameleon_2.0_RC5_r1083.pkg to your desktop.
  23. Open Chameleon_2.0_RC5_r1083.pkg, installing the software to your USB drive. Ignore the available packages (in other words, install only “Chameleon”).
  24. Open Lion_OSInstall_GM.tar.bz2, which adds a “System” folder to your desktop.
  25. On your USB drive, navigate to /System/Installation/Packages.
  26. In the extracted “System” folder, navigate to /System/Installation/Packages.
  27. Copy the “OSInstall.mpkg” file from the extracted folder on your desktop over to the Packages folder on your USB drive, overwriting the one that’s already there.
  28. On your USB drive, navigate to /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Install.framework/Frameworks/OSInstall.framework/Versions/A.
  29. In the extracted “System” folder, navigate to /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Install.framework/Frameworks/OSInstall.framework/Versions/A.
  30. Copy the “OSInstall” file from the extracted folder on your desktop over to the “A” folder on your USB drive, overwriting the one that’s already there.

Your USB drive is now prepared for installation on nearly any PC! All you have to do now is boot directly from it (you may need to change your settings in your BIOS, or at least bring up a boot menu), go to the installer, choose the drive/partition that you want to install Lion to, install Lion, and you’re done!

Now comes the part that you’ll have to do some research on yourself: Getting your hardware work properly.

What I mean by that, is getting various pieces of hardware working properly, such as your audio, video card, Ethernet, WiFi, and possibly more. Below are a few good resources for these things:

If you have any questions or comments regarding this (or anything else), please leave them in the comments area below.

Lastly, I plan on making an installation video showing the installation and initial setup process of Mac OS X Lion on an MSI GT680R notebook. Stay tuned!

Video Tutorial

Installation Video

The below video shows the Mac OS X Lion installation process on an MSI GT680R gaming laptop (see the YouTube video’s description for the specs).

Feel free to follow Brian and The Tech Erra on Twitter!

  • Dwj

    Can this be installed from the USB stick to a USB portable hard drive instead of your SSD?

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely.

      • Dwj

        Thanks for the reply!

        So can it be installed from the USB stick, onto the same USB stick? I’d basically just like to have 1 USB stick with lion installed on it. How would I go about that?

        • Anonymous

          Yes, you should be able to, although it probably won’t perform very well.

          You’ll probably just need to make a second partition on the USB drive (with DIsk Utility) for the actual Lion installation with a size of at least 15GB.

          • Dwq

            Thanks. There seems to be a glaring item missing in your tutorial however: How to install the bootloader onto the SSD (in my case USB hard drive) so that the original install usb stick isn’t required!!

            Right now, I need to have both the original install USB and the USB hard drive with Lion installed on it to boot into Lion. How can I install a bootloader so only the USB hard drive with Lion is required?

          • Anonymous

            Well, this tutorial’s only for creating the USB drive :) .

            But, in the ZIP download above (the third requirement), it contains the bootloader (Chameleon) that you’ll want to use; just install it to your target drive.

            Or, you can download Multibeast.

          • Dwq

            That didn’t work!! I can’t boot. I installed chameleon onto the usb hard drive, then rebooted. It gets to the ‘select drive’ screen, i select my OSX partition, it shows some of the fast white text, and then it says ‘invalid image’ or something similar almost immediately!!!

            How can I get it to boot from the USB hard drive?

          • Anonymous

            Considering I made this guide specifically for USB flash drives, that’s all I can provide support for.

          • Dwq

            A USB hard drive and USB flash drive are essentially the same thing, you cannot say the tutorial is ‘just for flash drives’.

            Your tutorial has a crucial flaw in this area – it is essentially pointless without instruction as to how to install it fully on a USB stick with all bootloaders working, and I think that is reflected in the low view count on YouTube.

            Just some advice – thanks anyway!

          • Anonymous

            The tutorial already tells you how to install the bootloader onto the USB stick. The same instructions can be used for installing the bootloader onto the actual partition once installed. It’s all quite simple.

            The video has nearly 3000 views. That’s not by any means low. Plus, I don’t see how this post can reflect the view counts.

            I don’t like to baby people in my tutorials. I expect them to be able to think a little bit and to experiment on their own should they have an issue somewhere.

  • Leon_squid

    hey man,,, why my first boot is dsmos has arrived?? please!!!

    • Anonymous

      That’s a normal line.

  • Ezac Jones

    works for AMD cpus?

    • Anonymous

      No, since you’ll need an AMD-compatible kernel, which isn’t available for Lion yet.

  • Mohammed AlSalmany

    many thanks for your …

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000413632698 Tanveer Singh

    and if u select hd(1,1) win7 .. it will boot into ur windows 7 ?

    • besweeet

      Yes it’ll work.

    • Umchea Sophea

      For me i use Dell Studio 1450. and i have same problem with Tanveer Singh. Admin, please help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000413632698 Tanveer Singh

    if lion is successfully installed , then after that do i need my lion usb at all times to boot … if yes then what is the alternative ? i mean any other way by i can get the chameleon bootloader to show up without the mac usb ? plz help @besweeet

    • besweeet

      Just install the boot loader to your partition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000413632698 Tanveer Singh

    when i select my win7(c:/) on the chameleon bootloader it shows — “BOOTMGR is missing
    press ctrl,alt,del to restart ” what should i do that it boots up properly to windows 7 ? please help @besweet

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000413632698 Tanveer Singh

    installation hangs at ” PCI configuration begin ”
    what to do ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000413632698 Tanveer Singh

      @besweet plz help :(

    • YYY

      npci=0×2000

  • Samsmall

    Hi Pete

    So what would it take to get you to put that 10.7.0 that you have squirled away onto a bootable thumb drive that I could use to install 10.7.0 on my mac? Avid Media Composer isn’t operating on 10.7.3 only 10.7.2 and that’s all I can get from Apple. Tech support there suggested I find someone like you who has 10.7.0 becasue they don’t have it available anywhere anymore.

    you can reach me direct at samsmall at ptd.net or (973) 271 0788

    thanks

    Sam

  • Rendel

    Hello.
    I’ve followed your tutorial and when I’m trying to boot from USB flash drive i get an error: Transcript Offline – Buffer Pool Allocate [181000].
    Any ideas what to do?
    Thanks.

    • besweeet

      Sounds like you’re using an HD2000 GPU, in which case you’re screwed because it doesn’t work with Mac OS X.

  • newbie_macosx

    hi man, i have followed your tutorial. and install mac osx lion 10.7.3 . But when i boot from USB flash drive i get an error: BootCacheControl: Unable to open /var/db/BootCache.playlist, then screen stop in black. Can you help me solve it?

  • Blacksanin24

    i format the partition with disk utility and used mac os external (journaled) but still Lion dont wanna install!,help please

  • Blacksanin24

    well,that problem was osinstall file i think,but now when i choose the language send me an error telling that Lion couldnt be installed,and tells me to shutdown or restart,please help with this.

  • Guest

    How would i be able to dual boot Lion and W7, which boot loader would i use. I already have windows installed

    • besweeet

      Chameleon.

    • Hasan Galib Luther

      have same problem, can’t load windows, only Lion, after lion install. I use chimera boot loader

      • besweeet

        Use Chameleon.

        • kmfrssn

          he said he uses chameleon already

  • Hasan Galib Luther

    Hey.
    Tahnks for your tutorial. I am trying to install it on my MSI GT 683 DXR
    After I can follow you tut and create the usb, but i’m stucked at : I can not install Lion to MBR, it sees only USB drive…

    • besweeet

      That means you didn’t copy the modified OSInstall files.

    • Hasan Galib Luther

      How do you install kext’s? Is there a kext for network card?

      • besweeet

        Kext Helper.

        • Hasan Galib Luther

          could not find kext for Nvidia gtx 570M & Wifi Kext.
          Other question, can i install 2 different boot loader in 2 different HD’s?
          Chameleon kocks it up and result is that I can’t load win7.
          Thx for helping..

  • Jarry316

    Hi, thank you very much for your great tutorial. Do you mind if I please ask you for help? I am having a problem when I try to use Chameleon, I get the following error: “PCI Configuration begin” and it freezes. I’ve looked for answers and I’ve tried to add to the boot option: npci=0×2000 but it has not helped. Do you please have any solution? I am running on an Asus N61Jq which has an Intel Core i7-720QM and ATI 5730 Graphics Engine (Radeon). Thank you very much!

    • besweeet

      There are lots of boot options that you can try. Starting with cpus=1 is the best place to start.

  • Amilne

    Doesn’t work for me, I get the error message on boot ‘please insert system disk, disk is not bootable’. What am I doing wrong?

    • besweeet

      Sounds like your BIOS doesn’t let you boot from USB drives. Either that, or your USB drive wasn’t prepared properly.

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  • Domarch50

    i want use this laptop can support osx or not?
    MSI GT780DX-406US 17.3″ i7-2670QM 2.2GHz 12GB 750GB

  • Domarch50

    this one can support osx or not?

    Dell Audi 4 Changable Cover (LD-493)

    - Intel® CoreTM i7-3612QM
    (2.1GHz, 6MB cache)
    - Ram: 8GB DDR3
    - 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT630M

    • besweeet

      Those are the types of questions that you can answer yourself by actually experimenting… Don’t be lazy.

  • Yanez

    Hi, thanks for amazing tutorial. I am trying to install Mountain Lion on my pc.
    Specs are:
    Asus P9X79 Pro (LGA 2011 – Sandybridge E)
    Asus Nvidia eForce GTX480
    32 gb RAM

    I was able to pass the PCI configuration error booting with npci=0×2000
    Then i solved the error
    BootCacheControl: Unable to open /var/db/BootCache.playlist,
    adding disable boot cache at boot.

    Now i have
    AppleUSBOHCI[0xffffff8008c81000]::Found a transaction which hasn’t moved in 5 second on bus 0x1a

    and i can’t find a solution. I think it’s due to usb issue.

    Can anyone help me with some hint? Thanks

  • Shinigami_pv

    hi my lap have 4 usb3.0 when i boot from usb i have error “still waiting a root device” i try search and fix achi but it’s don’t work so how to i fix it?

  • Jordi

    Hi,
    after I choosed lionUSB,doesn’t appear MAC menu install. USB restarts the computer all time. Ca you help me?

  • Darwin

    i completed the usb boot making process but after selecting my mac usb from Chameleon boot loader,the pc load files and restarts every time.i cannot get to the setup.