This method works for almost all users — it keeps your data and existing programs intact and upgrades your machine to the latest OS. But sometimes, you might not want to do a regular OS upgrade.
It’s possible to do a clean install of OS X Mavericks on your Mac — or on a new hard drive, if you’re upgrading or repairing your Mac — but it takes a bit of work.
The process is a bit more complicated than it has been in previous years, but it’s still relatively easy to create a bootable copy of OS X Mavericks that you can run from a USB stick or other drive.
Note: A clean install will erase all of the contents on your disk drive. Make sure to back up your important files, settings and apps before proceeding.
To do a clean install of OS X Mavericks, you’ll need a blank USB flash drive that is at least 8GB in size. You’ll be using this drive completely for OS X Mavericks, so don’t waste a larger drive if you have an 8GB available.
You can also use an existing hard drive partition, but that process complicates the second option for this installer.
You’ll also need to download OS X Mavericks onto your existing Mac.IMAGE: APPLE, SCREENSHOT BY MASHABLE
Download OS X Mavericks
You can download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store here.
This will download a 5.2GB file called “Install OS X Mavericks” to your Applications folder.IMAGE: APPLE, SCREENSHOT BY MASHABLE
Format USB Drive
Now, format the USB drive by opening up Disk Utility. It’s in the Utilities folder in Applications.
Select your USB drive and click on the “Erase” tab. Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the format type and keep the name as “untitled.”
Click the Erase button. This will take a few minutes, but will erase your USB drive will be erased and format it with the proper file system.IMAGE: APPLE, SCREENSHOT BY MASHABLE
Easiest Option: Use Lion DiskMaker App
A great app for automating the creation of an OS X bootable USB disk called Lion DiskMaker.
Lion DiskMaker is still putting the final touches on its version compatible with Mavericks, but the creator’s latest beta version supports OS X 10.9 and will build a bootable USB. The only caveat is that you must have the Install OS X Mavericks file inside your Applications folder.
This is far and away the easiest way to create a bootable copy of OS X Mavericks.
Although I’ve successfully built a number of bootable USB disks with Lion DiskMaker, be aware that in my tests, the process took more time than the manual method (below). If you’re low on time and high on efficiency, the manual method may be your best bet.IMAGE: LION DISKMAKER, SCREENSHOT BY MASHABLE
Option 2: The Manual Way (Requires Terminal)
This method requires using the Terminal app. If you’re not comfortable typing commands into Terminal, just use the Lion DiskMaker app (above).
To continue with using Terminal, follow the steps below.
1. After downloading OS X Mavericks to your Applications folder and formatting your USB drive (make sure it’s called “Untitled”), open up the Terminal app.
2. Paste the following command into the Terminal window and hit enter:sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app –nointeraction
3. You will be prompted to enter in your user password. Then, you’ll see a list of processes on the terminal screen that read:
Copying Installer files to disk…
This process runs a special mode built into the OS X Mavericks installer that can create installable media. The disk you’re copying the media onto becomes bootable, too.
The process takes less time than Lion DiskMaker, but you’ll need to follow the instructions exactly. Don’t move the installer to another folder, and make sure you don’t have more than one disk drive titled “Untitled” connected to your machine.IMAGE: APPLE, SCREENSHOT BY MASHABLE
Booting Up and Installing
Once your USB drive has been created, it’s time to install Mavericks.
1. Restart (or boot up) your Mac with the USB drive connected and hold down on the Option key. You should see a screen that lets you select a number of different hard drives, including your USB drive that reads, “Install OS X Mavericks.”
2. Click on that drive to open up a list of settings. If you just want to do a typical OS X installation, you can do so (but then, why did you take the time to make the bootable media?).
3. For a clean install, open up Disk Utility and erase your main hard drive. Once you’ve done so, you can go back to the Install OS X Mavericks disk and choose “Install a new copy of OS X.”