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These advanced steps are primarily for system administrators and others who are familiar with the command line. You don't need a bootable installer to upgrade macOS or reinstall macOS, but it can be useful when you want to install on multiple computers without downloading the installer each time.

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What you need to create a bootable installer

  • A USB flash drive or other secondary volume, formatted as Mac OS Extended, with at least 12GB of available storage
  • A downloaded installer for macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, or El Capitan

Whether it’s time for you to sell your old MacBook Pro, want a fresh start to your old machine or just want this damn thing to work again. Wiping and reinstalling macOS is definitely the way to go! Luckily for MacBook Pros, it’s just a simple 3-step process (recovery, wipe, reinstall)! If you still have the Lion OS installer there is a way to install it by back dating your system so the certificate check passes. But I think its just wiser to get to Sierra as being the best OS for these older MacBook Pro’s which have SATA drives and APFS has issues with SATA (HDD or SSD).

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Clean Install of Snow Leopard. Boot the computer using the Snow Leopard Installer Disc or the Disc 1 that came. With your computer. Insert the disc into the optical drive and restart the computer. After the chime press and hold down the 'C' key. Release the key when you see. A small spinning gear appear below the dark gray Apple logo. This article guides you through the process of performing a clean installation of macOS 10.15 Catalina using the bootable USB drive method, rather than upgrading your Mac using Apple's standard. After downloading Lion you must first save the Install Mac OS X Lion application. After Lion downloads DO NOT click on the Install button. Go to your Applications folder and make a copy of the Lion installer. Move the copy into your Downloads folder. Now you can click on the Install button.

Download macOS

  • Download: macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, or macOS High Sierra
    These download to your Applications folder as an app named Install macOS [version name]. If the installer opens after downloading, quit it without continuing installation. To get the correct installer, download from a Mac that is using macOS Sierra 10.12.5 or later, or El Capitan 10.11.6. Enterprise administrators, please download from Apple, not a locally hosted software-update server.
  • Download: OS X El Capitan
    This downloads as a disk image named InstallMacOSX.dmg. On a Mac that is compatible with El Capitan, open the disk image and run the installer within, named InstallMacOSX.pkg. It installs an app named Install OS X El Capitan into your Applications folder. You will create the bootable installer from this app, not from the disk image or .pkg installer.

Use the 'createinstallmedia' command in Terminal

  1. Connect the USB flash drive or other volume that you're using for the bootable installer.
  2. Open Terminal, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  3. Type or paste one of the following commands in Terminal. These assume that the installer is in your Applications folder, and MyVolume is the name of the USB flash drive or other volume you're using. If it has a different name, replace MyVolume in these commands with the name of your volume.

Big Sur:*

Catalina:*

Mojave:*

High Sierra:*

El Capitan:

* If your Mac is using macOS Sierra or earlier, include the --applicationpath argument and installer path, similar to the way this is done in the command for El Capitan.


After typing the command:

  1. Press Return to enter the command.
  2. When prompted, type your administrator password and press Return again. Terminal doesn't show any characters as you type your password.
  3. When prompted, type Y to confirm that you want to erase the volume, then press Return. Terminal shows the progress as the volume is erased.
  4. After the volume is erased, you may see an alert that Terminal would like to access files on a removable volume. Click OK to allow the copy to proceed.
  5. When Terminal says that it's done, the volume will have the same name as the installer you downloaded, such as Install macOS Big Sur. You can now quit Terminal and eject the volume.

Use the bootable installer

Determine whether you're using a Mac with Apple silicon, then follow the appropriate steps:

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  1. Plug the bootable installer into a Mac that is connected to the internet and compatible with the version of macOS you're installing.
  2. Turn on your Mac and continue to hold the power button until you see the startup options window, which shows your bootable volumes and a gear icon labled Options.
  3. Select the volume containing the bootable installer, then click Continue.
  4. When the macOS installer opens, follow the onscreen instructions.

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  1. Plug the bootable installer into a Mac that is connected to the internet and compatible with the version of macOS you're installing.
  2. Press and hold the Option (Alt) ⌥ key immediately after turning on or restarting your Mac.
  3. Release the Option key when you see a dark screen showing your bootable volumes.
  4. Select the volume containing the bootable installer. Then click the up arrow or press Return.
    If you can't start up from the bootable installer, make sure that the External Boot setting in Startup Security Utility is set to allow booting from external media.
  5. Choose your language, if prompted.
  6. Select Install macOS (or Install OS X) from the Utilities window, then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions.

Learn more

For more information about the createinstallmedia command and the arguments that you can use with it, make sure that the macOS installer is in your Applications folder, then enter the appropriate path in Terminal:

  • Big Sur: /Applications/Install macOS Big Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • Catalina: /Applications/Install macOS Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • Mojave: /Applications/Install macOS Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • High Sierra: /Applications/Install macOS High Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • El Capitan: /Applications/Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia

A bootable installer doesn't download macOS from the internet, but it does require an internet connection to get firmware and other information specific to the Mac model.

Macintosh HD, or the MacBook internal hard drive, is basically the startup drive of most Apple computers. That means if your Mac or MacBook Pro can’t mount its startup disk, it is likely that you will experience problems, like your computer gets stuck on the login screen or it does not boot at all. Situations like this can be very annoying, especially if you have critical and important files stored on the “unmountable” hard drive.

Fret not, because we will teach you what to do if your MacBook Pro won’t mount its startup disk. But before we do that, you better have a backup of all your data.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

Before you proceed with fixing the problem, it is best that you back up all your data first. That way, you can easily retrieve or recover your important documents and files in case something goes wrong.

Now, you might be wondering if it is possible to create a backup of your data, especially that your Mac is not even booting. Here’s what you should know: your Mac has a built-in Disk Utility, which can be accessed before startup. To use this, follow the steps below:

  1. Get an external hard drive and connect it to your Mac.
  2. Switch off your Mac. After five seconds, switch it back on.
  3. After hearing the startup sound, press the CMD and R keys. Hold them until the Apple logo appears.
  4. The macOS Utilities window will now appear.
  5. Choose Disk Utility and hit Continue to proceed.
  6. You can now start backing up your data using the external drive. Once you have backed up all your data, you can try a few fixes to your “unmountable” hard drive problems.

4 Fixes to a MacBook Pro That Can’t Mount Its Startup Disk

In most cases, mounting is an automatic process that happens as soon as the hard drive is connected to a Mac or MacBook Pro. Then again, drive mounting can be performed manually using the Disk Utility of your machine. It will be discussed further below.

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Going forward, assuming you already have a backup of your important files and data, let’s proceed with resolving the problem. Below are a few ways to fix a MacBook Pro that can’t mount its startup disk:

1. Fix Your Hard Drive.

Sometimes, restarting your Mac is more than enough to fix the problem. However, if that does not work, then you might want to look into the angle that there might be something wrong with your hard drive. If that is the case, you have to boot your MacBook Pro in Recovery Mode via Disk Utility.

To hopefully fix your hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. Switch off your MacBook Pro.
  2. Turn it back on by pressing the Power button. But while doing that, press the CMD and R keys as well until the Apple logo appears.
  3. The macOS Utilities window will open. From there, select Disk Utility.
  4. From the left pane, choose your MacBook Pro hard drive.
  5. Navigate to the First Aid tab.
  6. Click the First Aid button to start fixing your drive.
  7. Wait for the process to finish before restarting your machine.

2. Run Your MacBook Pro in Safe Mode.

When booted in Safe Mode, your MacBook Pro will start only with the minimum requirements and utilities needed. All other programs and apps that are unnecessary will never be loaded. Hence, if the reason why your startup disk cannot be mounted is a faulty app or program, booting your MacBook Pro in Safe Mode might just fix your problem.

To run your MacBook Pro in Safe Mode, do these:

  1. Restart your MacBook Pro.
  2. After you hear the startup sound, press the SHIFT key immediately. Continue holding it until the Apple logo appears.
  3. If your MacBook Pro boots up properly, then uninstall any program or app you suspect is causing the problem.
  4. Restart your machine.

3. Disconnect All External Peripherals.

It is possible that a faulty peripheral connected to your MacBook Pro could be causing your startup disk problems. To verify this, follow the steps below:

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  1. Switch off your machine.
  2. Disconnect all external peripherals connected to your MacBook Pro, including printers, external hard drives, USBs, and scanner. You may leave the keyboard and mouse attached in the meantime.
  3. Switch on your Mac. If it boots properly, then one of the peripherals is causing the problem.
  4. Identify the exact cause of the problem by connecting each of the peripherals one by one. Make sure you reboot your MacBook Pro every time you connect a peripheral.

4. Reset the SMC and PRAM.

This may sound like a technical solution, but it isn’t. In fact, resetting the SMC and the PRAM takes only a few seconds.

To reset the PRAM and SMC, follow these instructions:

  1. Reboot your MacBook Pro.
  2. After you hear the startup sound, press the Option, CMD, P, and R keys. Hold them until you hear the second startup tone.
  3. Release the keys. Your PRAM will then be reset.
  4. Restart your MacBook Pro and check if the problem persists.
  5. If resetting the PRAM does not fix the problem, try resetting the SMC. Start by shutting down your MacBook Pro.
  6. Plug your machine into a wall outlet.
  7. Next, press the CTRL, SHIFT, Option, and Power keys for 10 seconds and release them together.
  8. Restart your MacBook Pro and see if it worked.

How to Mount a Startup Disk on MacBook Pro

At this point, you probably want to know how to properly mount a startup disk on your MacBook Pro to avoid problems in the future. Well, mounting a startup disk does not literally suggest physically setting it up with all the wires. It simply means making the startup disk available for your system to perform different read and write operations.

If the startup drive is in good shape, your system Disk Utility should see it. Under the Disk Utility window, select your preferred startup disk. Click on it to mount. By now, your new startup disk should be accessible by your operating system.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how to deal with your “unmountable” startup disk problem, it’s time that you get your MacBook Pro running fast and smooth by downloading and installing a reliable tool like Outbyte MacRepair. Not only will this tool allow you to conveniently find and fix speed and stability problems, it will also protect your privacy. What more can you ask for from such a powerful tool?

If you know other ways to fix a MacBook Pro that can’t mount its startup disk, please share them with us below. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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