I'd like to create an Ubuntu live USB stick on a Mac to use to install Ubuntu on another machine. How do I accomplish this?

  • there is no need to convert from iso to dmg, the MD5 turned out to be identical prior and after the conversion.
    – user109607
    Nov 21, 2012 at 0:13
  • 1
    @Unicycle1234 That is not true. It really needs to be converted.
    – Lucio
    Jun 7, 2013 at 17:50
  • Be sure to answer the key point in the question - will it work on another computer (i.e not the macintosh, but rather another machine in need of rescue or install)
    – user391339
    Sep 3, 2014 at 6:11

5 Answers 5


Taken from here:

We would encourage Mac users to download Ubuntu Desktop Edition by burning a CD. But if you prefer to use a USB stick, please follow the instructions below.

Note: this procedure requires that you create an .img file from the .iso file you download. It will also change the filesystem that is on the USB stick to make it bootable, so backup all data before continuing.

Tip: Drag and drop a file from Finder to Terminal to 'paste' the full path without risking typing errors.

  1. Download Ubuntu Desktop

  2. Open the Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/ or query Terminal in Spotlight)

  3. Convert the .iso file to .img using the convert option of hdiutil. Example:

    hdiutil convert -format UDRW ~/path/to/target.iso -o ~/path/to/ubuntu.img

    Note: OS X tends to put the .dmg ending on the output file automatically.

  4. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices

  5. Insert your flash media

  6. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media
    (e.g. /dev/disk2)

  7. Run

    diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN

    (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2)

  8. Execute the following command while replacing /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img or ./ubuntu.dmg).

    sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m
    • Using /dev/rdisk instead of /dev/disk may be faster.
    • If you see the error dd: Invalid number '1m', you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M.
    • If you see the error dd:/devdiskN: Resource busy, make sure the disk is not in use. Start the Disk Utility.app and unmount (don't eject) the drive.
  9. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes

  10. Restart your Mac and press Alt while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB-Stick
  • 8
    Follow-up question: does this process create a USB drive that will boot on a PC, a Mac, or both? Jun 22, 2014 at 21:37
  • 1
    Works for me on PC
    – mrudult
    May 16, 2016 at 22:05
  • 3
    The linked resources changed quite a bit since this answer. It recommends UNetbootin now. Nov 11, 2016 at 8:30
  • 1
    Using /dev/rdisk instead of /dev/disk may be faster. Not only faster, but since the rdisks are macos "aliases"/synonyms for removable disk, you should have slightly less risk of having dd blow away your actual onboard SSD/HD disks.
    – JL Peyret
    Apr 28, 2017 at 3:56
  • 4
    The "r" in the "rdisk" device name stands for raw, not removable. Access to the disk through that device is unbuffered. That's what it's faster. (There are rdisk devices for internal drives as well.) Feb 3, 2018 at 12:10

You can do it really easily with unetbootin which is available for Mac OS - the upside being it doesn't need more than a few clicks on a simple GUI.

(note this is only for newer Intel Mac's, and won't work with older PowerPC machines unfortunately.)

  • This works for booting on a PC! Gooood.
    – user391339
    Sep 3, 2014 at 6:18
  • 3
    This is the process suggested by Ubuntu's web site. But it didn't work for me. The app could never see any thumb drive I inserted. There were no instructions for how the thumb drive needed to be formatted, so I tried FAT (which is supposedly Fat32); but had to guess on the other setting (master boot whatever...?). Anyway, the above command-line instructions did work, so I did that. Sep 27, 2016 at 18:48

You could try following the instructions on ubuntu.com.

How to create a bootable USB stick on OS X

Useful Links

Additionally, you could try looking at some of these links for help:

  • Please don't use the first steps from ubuntu.com. They suggest using Etcher, for some unfathomable reason, which sends data to a remote server even if you opt out. Use the help.ubuntu.com steps or another answer here.
    – Zim
    Mar 29, 2021 at 22:17

Follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest Ubuntu ISO from here and UNetbootin from here.

  2. Insert your USB drive.

  3. Make UNetbootin executable from file properties.

  4. Run it.

  5. Now click in Diskimage. Give the path of the downloaded Ubuntu ISO.

  6. Then select your pen Drive from the list.

  7. Then press OK.

  8. Wait until finish.

After that you are able to boot or install Ubuntu from that pen-drive.


You can use the Linux USB Creator. The Linux USB Creator for Mac has been released. This is the easiest way to create a live linux USB on a mac.

If you use OSX Lion, you can Download this file, and if you use OSX Snow Leopard, you can Download this file

For more information on the Linux USB creator, just visit the Website

The other option is to use UNetbootin.

If your Mac is a G4 or G5 take a look at this.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .