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How to: Roll your own OS X Lion DVD installer

19 August 2011 3,152 views 3 Comments

Rolling your OS X Lion USB install drive is way cheaper than buying one from Apple. However, you can squeeze even more cost out by burning an OS X Lion DVD install disk — it’s super easy.

Just because it bears repeating, if you have trouble with your Mac that requires reinstalling OS X Lion (i.e. anything other than disk failure), you can do that via your Mac’s restore partition and the Mac App Store. Knowing Apple, this functionality will “just work.”

However, as I’m fond of saying, luck favors the prepared. You can cheaply and easily roll your own OS X Lion USB install drive, but making an install DVD is cheaper still.

Or, geek out and do both.

SuperDrive me

Thereupon, you need a Mac with a SuperDrive (i.e. DVD burner). To check for that, go to the Apple menu > About this Mac > More Info > System Report > Disc Burning and look for DVD-R, DVD-RW, etc. Alternately, launch Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities) and look for SuperDrive in the lefthand Sidebar.

You also need a blank single-layer blank disk, which sell for about 20 or 30 cents each in bulk. For example, you can get a TDK 16X DVD-R 50 Pack Spindle (Amazon) for $10.99 + shipping ($4.99 ground).

Alternately, get a single, 10 and 50 DVD-R pack at Best Buy, HH Greg, Walmart, etc. — the more you buy, the cheaper individual disks are.

And, some fuel

To burn Lion, you must have a local copy. Thereupon, to redownload OS X Lion from the Mac App Store open the App Store app, press + hold the option key and click Purchases. When Purchases load, you will have the option to “Install,” go ahead and click it.

When Lion finishes downloading, the OS X Lion Installer will launch, quit it and locate “Install Mac OS X Lion” in the Applications folder. If you have a trackpad Mac, tap once with two fingers (i.e. right click with a mouse) and from the contextual menu that pops up select Show Package Contents.

Go to Contents > SharedSupport and locate the InstallESD.dmg file (image).

Next, open Disk Utility and insert a blank DVD-R. Then drag InstallESD.dmg into the Sidebar, highlight it (click on it once) and then click the Burn button.

In the resulting window, I prefer to check Verify and Mount — to admire my handy work. Once again, click Burn and get a cup.

When it’s done, you have a bootable OS X Lion DVD installer (sweet).

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