How to create a bootable CD in Mac OS X FAQ?

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How to create a bootable CD in Mac OS X FAQ?

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Caution Note

Using a disk utility older than the operating system you are diagnosing may yield a system that is unbootable! Be very careful to only use the utility which was designed for your operating system. If in doubt, contact the developer of the utility. To avoid problems, be sure to have a good backup plan.

This FAQ is divided into the following section
  • Introduction
  • AppleCare
  • Puma (10.1.5) and Jaguar (10.2) Method
  • Panther (10.3) and Tiger (10.4) Method
  • Third party solutions


    Before you go about creating a bootable CD, you need to know that Apple has made some copy protection built-in to various installations of Mac OS CDs. The article in the knowledgebase 25517 and 1159 explain which Macs came with which operating system versions. To boot those Macs, you need either the version of the operating system which came with their system or a newer retail version. Installer CDs made for a specific Mac model, which is indicated by the CD label itself, will only work on the Mac they came with or other Macs of the same model and vintage. "Update" CDs will not boot at all, and are labelled such on the CD label. As a result if you want to create a bootable CD to boot specific Macs you'll want to make one that has either the operating system that came with the Mac you are trying to boot or newer. Disk Utility disks that came with an older Mac operating system version will not boot Macs that came with newer operating system versions and need to be updated. Some AppleCare CDs may not be updated for their specific model, and need to be replaced by Apple with a newer bootable system. For those who want utilities built together with 10.3 to 10.4.4 that are third party, and the utility maker hasn't made a newer bootable CD, you can get an external firewire drive to clone your system system with those utilities already installed. Remember though use these processes only within the limits of your license agreement. Copying CDs for others to use may or may not work properly. This is especially true of system specific CDs which have been found to not work on Macs they didn't come with. These links prove that fact, while some may dispute it:


    AppleCare disks

    Call AppleCare if you purchased an AppleCare package with disks that will not boot your Mac. Newer Macs can boot off CDs with the startup manager (Intel version, PowerPC version). Command-option-shift-delete (Apple knowledgebase article 24881) and/or the 'C' key will boot other Macs from CDs. Some Macs that came with Mac OS X and Mac OS 9 will not boot Mac OS 9. The Macs that are Mac OS 9 bootable are outlined on the Mac OS X native software and hardware FAQ.

    Puma/Jaguar method

    Note these steps will construct a bootable CD only based on an existing boot CD and allow you to add software to that boot CD. If you know what files and folders are necessary to create a Mac OS X bootable CD, please post feedback here.
    The following steps worked in Mac OS X 10.1.5, and haven't been tested in other OSes.
    There is one report of this working in 10.2.4, and several with 10.2.5. If you would like to offer feedback you may:
    • Take a master CD that has a system folder you want to be able to add data to and insert it in a bootable CD drive.
    • Open Disk Copy from the hard drive's Utilities folder found in the Applications folder.
    • Go to the Image menu and select "New Image from Device" (In Mac OS X 10.2.3, go to File menu, select New and from the submenu select Image from Device)
    • You will need to click on the triangles to the left of the devices to find the device with CD_ROM_MODE_1
    • Click on the image button
    • Name the image exactly the same as the CD it is imaging, and format it as a "Read/Write" image, and put it on the desktop.
    • Once the image is created and mounted, add any special utilities you want to include on your bootable CD.
    • Eject the mounted image
    • Go back to disk copy and select "Convert Image" from the Image menu and change the image format to DVD/CD master. When asked what extension to use, Use both cdr and dmg, and be sure the image is named the same as the CD itself, and put that on the desktop. (Mac OS X 10.2.3, Convert Image is in the File menu).
    • Move the .dmg only extension file created in step 6 to another location.
    • Burn the dmg.cdr.dmg Image from the Image menu, using the Burn Image command. This should create a bootable CD.
    The above process may yield clues as to how to make a bootable CD in Mac OS X 10.3, though since Apple moved Disk Copy's functions to the Disk Utility application in creating Mac OS X 10.3, the location of the various functions in the above steps have moved to other menus.

    Panther/Tiger/Leopard method

    Special thanks to Apple Discussions Board poster Kappy, I've learned of a new process to clone a bootable CD/DVD of your installation CD. He informs me it works with 10.3 through 10.4.4. I've tested it with 10.5 with a DVD+R DL. While this won't give you a CD that allows you to install third party utilities, it at least will mean you'll have a copy of your installation CD in case the old one wears out, and you can't afford an external hard drive.
    1. Insert the DVD/CD
    2. Open Disk Utility, and select the DVD/CD from the left side list (select the DVD/CD icon on top)
    3. from the DU File menu select New | Disk Image from Disk 1
    4. Choose to format the disk image as DVD/CD Master, name the disk image and click Save
    5. When the .cdr file is finished select it with mouse and press COMMAND-I to open the Get Info and check the box to lock the file
    6. Choose the .cdr file from the left side list, click Burn, and insert a new, blank DVD or CD.

    Third party solutions

    Charlessoft offers a Mac OS X 10.3 compatible bootable CD creation program called BootCD.

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