Clean Install OS X Mavericks via Bootable Flash Drive – Complete Guide

If you are looking to install the latest free operating system from Apple – Mac OS X Mavericks – on an existing machine but want to start from a clean slate leaving all the space-ahogging files and applications behind, a clean install is what you need, and this post is going to show you how.

mavericks clean installation

We’ve previously showed you how to perform a clean installation of Mac OS X Mountain Lion via bootable USB flash drive. However, the same method will not work for this version. The OS won’t boot from the flash drive upon restart.

In this post, we will give you a walkthrough (expect lots of screenshots) through the entire process of:

  1. Creating a bootable OS X Mavericks on USB flash drive, so you can
  2. Perform a clean installation on any iMac, or MacBook.

Getting Started

Before we start, here are some of the things you will need:

  1. A relatively fast and stable Internet connection as we will be downloading the entire Mac OS X Mavericks (file size: about 5.3GB).
  2. If you are installing on a Macbook, make sure it is connected to a power source first.
  3. A USB flash drive, empty and format-able, with a storage capacity of at least 8GB.

All good? Let’s roll.

1. Create a bootable Mac OS X Mavericks

Here is an overall idea what we will be doing in the first section of this guide. First we will download a copy of the Mac OS X Mavericks, instead of installing we will transfer the installer (packages and files) to our USB flash drive and make it bootable.

We will first update all available apps. Launch App Store, go to the Updates tab.

update all apps

Hold down the Option key, click Free Upgrade to start the OS X Mavericks download.

Note #1: Login with username and password may be required.

free upgrade mavericks

Note #2: Mac OS X Mavericks is 5.29GB. The download may take from 30 minutes to few hours depending on your Internet connection.

You may want to grab yourself a cup of coffee, check out some cool and creative Macbook decals we had previously featured, or go work on something else, and check back when it is done.

mavericks download time

Next, plug in your USB flash drive and:

  • Open Disk Utility
  • Look for your flash drive’s name on the left panel (refer to the screenshot below) and select it
  • Go to the Erase tab
  • Select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” for Format
  • Hit Erase button

This will only take a few minutes. Close Disk Utility after it is done.

Launch Terminal, paste the following code (Source) inside and hit Enter. This will copy Mavericks’ installation files into your USB flash drive. Password verification will be required.

 sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ --nointeraction 

copy files terminal command

Note #1: It may seem like Terminal is idle or not responding much after you hit Enter (most of it is like the screenshot below), but it is perfectly normal.

copy files process

Note #2: The entire process will take approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Grab yourself another coffee, or check out how Apple’s newly launched iPads faired against its competitors.

Here’s how your Terminal should look like when the copying process is done. Quit Terminal but keep your USB flash drive plugged in. We now have a bootable OS X Mavericks in the flash drive.

copy files done

2. Clean re-installation

In this second half of the guide, we will make use of the flash drive to perform a clean installation.

Restart your Mac, with the flash drive plugged in, and hold down the Option key until you land on a boot menu (refer to the screenshot below). Double click on Install OS X Mavericks.

restart mac

Next, on the OS X Utilities dialogue screen, select Install OS X. Click Continue.

install os x

Follow the next few instructions on the screen. Click Continue to proceed, Agree to the software terms, Select a hard disk, and click Install.

proceed installation

The installation preparation process will now begin and will take approximately 7 – 15 minutes.

Note: During the installation process, you may experience the indicator hanging at “About a second remaining” for few minutes. Do NOT press cancel, just wait it out.

installation preparation

That’s it!

Your Mac will then restart, and will wrap up the installation process in another 30 – 40 minutes. When this is done, your Mac will restart automatically (again), leaving you at the login screen of a fresh copy of Mac OS X Mavericks.

Note: Run App Store to make sure all applications are updated and compatible with the latest operating system.