(Some time ago, I bought a new HDD for my MacBook 2,1. I put it in and installed Ubuntu on it, using a CD. Everything went fine, didn't have to setup any special Apple stuff, didn't need to bless my partition, make an EFI partition, etc. Everything was done for me.)

Recently, I found out that my DVD drive broke. I want to install Windows 8 Consumer Preview onto my MacBook, next to the Ubuntu install, preferrably using GRUB to chainload the Windows 8 bootloader. However, since my DVD drive is broken, the only way for me to install it is to use a USB drive.

I tried making a bootable USB stick for my MacBook, but without luck. I can't seem to be able to get the Windows 8 setup on it.

I also tried installing it via a rawdisk image in VirtualBox (directly to a partition, so I'm also making sure my bootloader doesn't get overwritten, which Windows usually does), but I don't have enough RAM to do that I'm afraid.

So my question is: how do I make a bootable USB drive for my MacBook so I can install Windows 8? And when that works, how do I get my GRUB back? (if Windows overwrites it)

For people not familiar with how Apple computers boot operating systems: New Apple computers use EFI, a newer computer firmware to replace the old BIOS. This and some limitations (put in by Apple), some of which are explained here, make it difficult to make a bootable USB drive.

I have another computer with Windows 7 and Ubuntu.

  • 2
    Everyone ... if you want to discuss the merits of this question please do so on Meta - lets not have a discussion by comments and flags. Many thanks in advance.
    – fossfreedom
    May 4, 2012 at 18:15
  • @fossfreedom Done. (meta.askubuntu.com/questions/3043/…)
    – lesderid
    May 4, 2012 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


Step 1: Download and install Microsoft’s Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool [Microsoft Store Link]

Step 2: Download Windows 8 Developer Preview from Windows Dev Center. If you don’t know if your processor is 32-bit or 64-bit ready, download the 32-bit .iso file.

Step 3: Insert a USB flash drive having 8GB or greater storage capacity in a USB port on your computer.

Step 4: Launch Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool you installed in Step 1.

Step 5: Choose the ISO file you downloaded in Step 2 by clicking on “Browse”.

Step 6: Click on “USB device” when prompted to choose media type. In the next step, choose your inserted USB flash drive.

Step 7: The tool will now create a bootable USB flash drive using the Windows 8 DP .iso. This will take some time, so be patient.

Step 8: Once the tool has done its thing, restart your PC with the USB plugged in. On start up, you will need to enter the BIOS utility of your computer and boot from the USB.

Step 9: Once booted from the USB drive; follow on-screen instructions to install Windows 8 DP.

Finally the grub recovery is covered here: How can I repair grub? (How to get Ubuntu back after installing Windows?) .

Reference: 1.

  • 2
    Looks good. Only problem I can see is in step 8, when you need to boot from USB. Since Macs typically can't boot OSes other than OS X from USB, I'm curious whether this will work. If OS X were still installed, I would suggest using rEFIt to boot the Windows USB. Apr 27, 2012 at 2:39
  • To work with Wine, .NET framework must also be installed. But it is true I haven't tested yet.
    – desgua
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:19
  • 1
    I'm very sure that this won't work, because my MacBook won't boot any 'normally created' USB drive, like Chan-Ho Suh said.
    – lesderid
    Apr 28, 2012 at 11:00

Sometimes the best is the simplest, it turns out that Windows 8 comes the boot files to boot on UEFI which boots perfecly on the Macbook and using the ISO tool doesn't preserve this (tested on my MacBook). To run it on the Mac with usb, there is a list of simple commands which you can run on your Windows 7 PC to transfer the files to your USB drive. Turns out the "To Go" version was a dead end for your situation, because formating the "To Go" USB that had UEFI, required a command that needed to be run in Windows 8 (talk about a catch 22) Source - 1 So all you need to do to make your USB is to run these commands in the Windows Command Prompt aka cmd. (I'm sure these commands should have an equivalent in Linux, does anyone have ideas for futrue reference?)

1- Download Windows 8 select the right version (32-bits or 64-bits) for your MacBook, here is a list of MacBooks that support 64-bits operating systems: Macs that work with 64-bit editions of Microsoft Windows. (Don't worry, we are not using Bootcamp, but the list is nice to see if you can run the 64-bits version.)

2- Insert your USB drive and run the following commands in the Windows command prompt, one line for each command. enter image description here

diskpart (Start the Windows disk management command line tool.)

list disk (This command will list all disks.)

You'll be able to use this command to search for your USB drive's number ('Disk ###'). You should be able to tell what's the right one by its size, but be careful, as the following commands will erase all contents currently on the drive.

select disk ### (Replace ### with your 'Disk ###' This is 5 in my example, so it will be "select disk 5" for me.)

clean (This will remove the partitioning information currently on the disk, effectively 'removing' all data on the disk.)

create partition primary (This will create a new partition.)

select partition 1 (This will select the partition so it can be used by following commands.)

active (Will make the newly created partition active.)

format quick fs=fat32 (UEFI can only USB boot to FAT32, not NTFS.)

assign (This will mount the USB drive.)

exit (This will leave the 'diskpart' program.)

Looks kindof like this but make sure to format in fat32 unlike I did in my picture enter image description here

3- Download and install Virtual CloneDrive this is and iso emulation program, run the program and change the settings to these-

enter image description here

This will set up a virtual drive so we can mount the Windows 8 ISO file, and speedily transfer to the USB drive. So now we want to navigate to "Computer" to see your new "BD-ROM" dive. Right click on it and select "Virtual CloneDrive", then "Mount", as shown below-

enter image description here

Next navigate to where you saved your Windows 8 ISO file, select it and click Open.

4- Now we need to copy the files over, use the following command (reopen command prompt like you did before) switching "A" out for the drive letter of your mounded Windows 8 virtual drive, and "B" out for the letter of your USB drive.

xcopy A:\* B:\ /s /e

5- Once that is done, eject the USB, put the USB in your Mac, turn the mac on while holding the alt/option key and you should see a yellow USB drive icon labeled "efi". Click on it and watch the Windows 8 Fish on your screen!


Well you can refer this article. For using WinUSB

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:colingille/freshlight
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install winusb
  • to completely format a drive and install the ISO on it:

    sudo winusb --format "iso path" "device"

  • to install a Windows 7 / Vista ISO on an NTFS partition and edit MBR of the device:

    sudo winusb --install "iso path" "partition"

untested with windws 8 and mac

  • Read Chan-Ho Suh's comment on desgua's answer.
    – lesderid
    Apr 29, 2012 at 7:32
  • Well for mac or Win 8 it might be problem for booting with pendrive. But for other pc's or win 7 its possible. Apr 29, 2012 at 18:40

Buy an external cd drive, currently the drives are very inexpensive, currently this one is $30 http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1223863&CatId=483.

Hold alt/option to get a list of boot options on boot, or hold 'c' to boot to cd.

Reinstall mac osx then install Windows 8 using bootcamp, or install rEFIt using osx, http://refit.sourceforge.net/doc/c1s1_install.html

The problem is that even on the Ubuntu documnetation site, they assume you have or sill have OSX for the usb solutions, https://help.ubuntu.com/community/How%20to%20install%20Ubuntu%20on%20MacBook%20using%20USB%20Stick Stated there, "We would encourage Mac users to download Ubuntu Desktop Edition by burning a CD for the time being."

And older macbooks don't work with EFI 2.0 so native booting from Windows 8 won't work anyway.

  • "You need bootcamp to run windows on a mac." That's Myth #1 on this list. Apr 27, 2012 at 7:42
  • "First Replace the broken CD/DVD drive." Hehe, I thought I was pretty clear about not going to buy a new drive. If I was going to do that, I wouldn't have asked it on ask Ubuntu...
    – lesderid
    Apr 28, 2012 at 19:39
  • You were clear about not replacing the broken one, however I think geting a usb CD drive is a viable solution, and would be a wise investment. Otherwise it seems all the other work arounds will use OsX to either install rEFIt, or format the usb in such a way to work.
    – Mateo
    Apr 28, 2012 at 19:48
  • An external CD drive might not work. See this. Apr 29, 2012 at 5:13
  • not necessarily, I can confirm I just tested my macbook will boot a osx disk on a non mac external drive. But I can not boot to windows disks with internal or external drives with a mac. But that also means my answer will not work either without rEFIt or bootcamp. If I remember right the external superdirve was made specifically for the macbook air, as it has only one usb, and they made it so it transfers more power to it through the connection, like the portable drives that have 2 usb connections, it will work fine for cd's on one plug, but will fail if it needs more power.
    – Mateo
    Apr 29, 2012 at 6:02

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