Creating a Mountain Lion bootable thumb drive

Most computer manufacturers have discontinued shipping installation or recovery discs with a new system. Instead, a recovery is created on the system’s hard drive. The burden is on the owner to create their own recovery discs if they want insurance against a system crash that renders the hard drive inaccessible.

Most systems comes standard with 500 GB to 1 TB drives so placing the recovery partition on their drive will not significantly impact storage capacities. At first boot, most computers will offer to guide the new owner to create recovery discs as backup. Apple, has taken recovery a step further by offering internet recovery in case your hard drive failed or you’re installing on a fresh drive. All you need is a broadband connection so you can access Apple’s server.

Sony MicroVault 8 GB thumb drive

Sony MicroVault 8 GB thumb drive

I like having recovery discs or a bootable thumb drive that I can stash as a backup just in case the two option of a recovery partition or internet recovery is not possible. Yesterday I purchased an 8 GB thumb drive to use as a Mountain Lion boot drive. I got a Sony 8 GB Micro Vault at Fry’s for $5.99. It is a only a 2.0 USB drive as it will only function as a redundancy of the recovery options available for my Macbook Air.

My new Macbook Air 13″ came with Mountain Lion pre-installed. So I checked the App Store if Mountain Lion will show up under my purchased tab. It was not in the list of app I purchased. It makes sense, since it came installed on my computer and I did not buy it separately.

Apple offers a free download of Mountain Lion, under their Up-to-Date Program, for anyone who purchased a Mac system on or after July 26 of this year and I definitely fall under that category. I searched online what others in the same situation have done, and found several blog posts that gave the advice to request a code from Apple.

The code will work to redeem or download a copy of Mountain Lion from the App Store for free. A link to request the code was on the Up-to-Date Program page on Apple’s site,

I submitted my information on the Up-to-Date Program page and received a succession of three emails in seconds containing the reference code for my request, an email with a password-protected PDF that contains redemption code, and an email that has the password to unlockĀ  the PDF.

Armed with the code, I went to the App Store and clicked on redeem. A window displayed that asked if I want to download Mountain Lion even if it is already installed on my computer. I confirmed and it began downloading. The file size is 4.35 GB and it has been downloading for about 3 hours now. It is taking to long since I have also been using bandwidth on my other computer. It is at 3.34 GB at this point.

After the download finished, I proceeded to prepare the thumb drive to receive the Mountain Lion installer using Mountain Lion’s Disc Utility. I was really simple All you have to do is erase the drive (note that this will wipe out files on the drive so be sure to move it files you still need) and create a GUID partition.

Once you’ve prepared the drive, the next steps involves moving the Mountain Lion install files into the drive Right-click the installer icon of Mountain Lion by go to Contents and Shared Support and drag the ESD file to Disc Utlity. Mount the ESD file by clicking open. Click on the restore menu tab on Disc Utility and drag the mounted Mountain Lion installer to the source field and your thumb drive to the destination field. Click apply to start the process of creating installer files into the drive. This took about 30 minutes.

Detailed step-by-step guides to walk you through the whole process are widely available on the Web. I have found this post and You-Tube video useful easy to follow.

Redeem code

Redeem code

Downloading Mountain Lion installer

Downloading Mountain Lion installer

Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion

Creating ML partition

Creating ML partition

GUID partition

GUID partition

Loading Mountain Lion on boot drive

Loading Mountain Lion on boot drive

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