Installing Windows using a USB key or External DVD drive on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
at 22:31 - 13th, May 2013
Tags: Mac OS X
, Mountain Lion
, Windows 7
, installing windows on a mac with no DVD drive
, installing Windows on a mac with an external dvd drive
, installing Windows on a mac using a USB key
, installing windows on a mac from a disk image ISO
, paragon NTFS
, Tuxera ntfs
, VMWare Fusion
, macbook pro 15"
After two days of partitioning, formatting, editing, repartitioning, reformatting, installing and reformatting again, I've finally been able to install Windows 7 on my macbook pro. I've read nearly every single thing there is to read on the internet about being able to install Windows 7 without an internal DVD drive on a Macbook Pro 15" running 10.8 Mountain Lion. Through all my reading I've found determined two things:
- Windows 7 does not like (cannot?) be installed from an external (USB) DVD drive
- Apple simply flags certain macs model numbers in an XML (plist) file to allow installation of Windows from a USB key
These two discoveries are important because it allowed me to understand why my Macbook Pro would either tell me that my USB key with a windows installer on it was not a bootable drive. It also explains why trying to install from a external dvd drive would sit at a black screen with a flashing cursor without actually booting.
I have a Macbook Pro 2011 (model number MBP 8,1) with 2 hard drives. The first was a 1TB HDD 5400 or 7200 rpm drive. This was my primary drive for the longest while, I had my system, apps, games and all my personal files on here. My DVD drive stopped working and I thought the best thing to do was to purchase a hard drive caddy
and get myself on the SSD bandwagon. Once the SSD and caddy were installed I then installed a fresh copy of 10.8 onto the SSD but kept my home directory on the HDD. I figured my personal files like work and music plus windows partition would be on the HDD while everything else on the SSD.
Keeping your home directory on a second drive
This wasn't all that complicated to do. Before you start installing a system on the SSD, boot up your OS on your HDD and create a "bootadmin" account with admin privileges on your HDD, this way you have two admin accounts in your OS.
Mark down the usernames and passwords of all the accounts that you'd like to leave on your HDD.
Now, install your OS on the SSD and make the primary account a generic admin account, not your personal account
. Once installation is finished, do all your updates and make sure the system is running as is supposed to, when that is finished go to System preferences and Create a new user, give the user the same name as your personal account from the HDD. Make sure the name and password are the same as the original system you had and you choose administrator from the New Account drop down menu at the top. Now in the list on the left, right click (control click) the name as shown below and choose advanced options.
In the window that comes up change the path of the home directory to the same path from the HDD as show below.
Great, log out of the general admin account and now log back in with your account. You can now clean up the SSD by going to SSD/Users and deleting the folder of the new account since it's not being used by anything. Repeat these steps until all the accounts are created.
Force Bootcamp to acknowledge USB Keys
Certain mac do not have the capability to make USB windows installers. There's a simple fix for this that really just takes two seconds to do.
- Make sure Boot Camp Assistant is closed before proceeding.
- Open Applications / Utitlities / System Information.
- Click Hardware in the left pane to make sure it's the active portion. Copy the value for boot ROM Version. In my case it's as shown below
- Go to your Applications / Utilities folder and right click bootcamp assistant and choose Show Package Contents.
- In the new window, go to Contents and make a back up of info.plist by selecting it and then option dragging it into the same window. It will ask you for your password, once confirmed rename the file to something like info-bkup.plist.
- Open info.plist in your favourite text editor like Text Edit, mine is BBEdit. Changing anything might ask you to unlock the file and will definitely ask you to authenticate when saving. Locate a section <key>DARequiredROMVersions</key> and insert <string>BOOT ROM VERSION</string> as a new as a first line. It should look like this:
- One last thing, the same thing needs to be done a little further in the PreUSBBootSupportedModels section. Once again insert a new line as the first line, this time just the model number
- Save and close the program.
- Open boot camp assistant and you should have a new option as shown below
If you don't see the section highlighted in blue you need to redo the above section.
Installing Windows 7 on a Macbook Pro 2011 with no DVD drive
Now for the gritty part. This is what you'll need:
rEFInd is a bootloader for mac, linux and windows, it's based off the code for rEFIt, which is no longer supported and doesn't have support for Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.
- Download all the above mentioned software
- Install rEFInd. Because I have 2 hard drives and ultimately have 3 partitions I made sure I had it on the SSD and not in my home directory before I installed it. To install rEFInd open terminal and drag the install.sh into the terminal window. It will ask you for a password, that is the same password you would us to log in. Note the message at the end, it should say something on the lines of Successfully installed. A good way to check is to open Macintosh HD (Macintosh SSD for me) and if there's a directory called efi then you're set. (to uninstall just trash that folder).
- Open Boot Camp Assistant and make sure the three boxes are checked and hit next. Make sure to have the Windows DVD (image or actual DVD) and a usb key plugged in. It will create a wininstaller and download all the necessary drivers. After that it will ask how much space you want to give bootcamp. Since I have 2 hard drives it gave me another option of which hard drive do I want to use and if I'd like to reformat my secondary and use the whole thing as a bootcamp drive. Once it's finished it's going to reboot the mac. To avoid any issues hold the option key before the apple logo comes up and reboot back into OS X.
- Now that you're back in OS X, open disk utility (Applications / Utilities / Disk Utility) and in the left pane select the Boot Camp partition and hit command i to get info on the partition. Take not of the Disk Identifier. This is very important so make sure you have the correct disk and then mark it down and keep it somewhere safe. Quit Disk Utility.
- Open Vmware Fusion and create a new Virtual Machine (command n). It will ask you to please insert disc, click continue without disc.
- Choose Create Custom Virtual Machine.
Choose the appropriate version of Windows, and then customize settings. Choose a safe place to keep the virtual machine, I like /Users/username/Documents/Virtual Machines. Do not save your Virtual Machine on the Boot Camp partition!
- Close Vmware Fusion.
- Open Terminal (Applications / Utilities / Terminal), and go to the Virtual Machine. In other words, type "cd " (without the quotes) and then drag the Windows 7 x64 file from your Documents / Virtual Machines into the Terminal window and hit enter. Now, check to make sure that Disk Utility is correct by copying the following and pasting it into your terminal window
/Applications/VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-rawdiskCreator print /dev/disk1
You should see something like this:
The highlighted portion is the bootcamp partition. The identifier was right, #4, so we're good to proceed.
- Now we're going to link the virtual machine we created in VMware Fusion to the Bootcamp partition. You'll need to edit the disk numbers accordingly, this is what it was for me.
/Applications/VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-rawdiskCreator create /dev/disk1 4 win7_raw lsilogic
There's no feedback for this command, but it does create a file called win7_raw.vmdk inside Windows 7 x64. To finish the process we need to edit one last file so type
sudo pico Windows 7 x64.vmx
It's going to ask you for your password, it's the same password as your login.
- In the editor you're going to change 2 lines. I've highlighted them below.
Once you're finished hit control x. Save changes by hitting y.
- Open VMware Fusion, you'll know it worked when you try to boot the Virtual machine and it asks for a password. It needs your permission to access the bootcamp partition. Pause the Virtual machine.
- If you have an external DVD drive put your dvd in the drive and restart the virtual machine.
- If you have an image of Windows in an iso, go to settings (command e) and go to the cd / dvd section. Click Autodetect and select choose image, find your image and finally click the enable button at the top.
- Install windows through VMware. At one point the installer is going to complain about the bootcamp partition being a Fat32 disk, just use the tools in the installer to format the disk.
- When the installer is finished, it's going to try and reboot the Virtual machine. Stop the machine and quit the program.
- Open the bootcamp partition and delete all the files you can from that drive.
- Copy all the files from your USB key, windows DVD or ISO onto the partition.
- Reboot the mac and hold option. While the mac is rebooting unplug all usb and external dvd drives you may have plugged in. If rEFInd is working, the main drive should be called EFI Boot, select that and then choose the Windows part ion (mine was windows partition 4).
- Install windows on the same partition that you've booted from, there's no need to reformat that partition.
- Once the installer is finished, find your Apple drivers and install all of that.
- You can now delete the files from the windows ISO / DVD / USB key you put on the drive. If you don't, every time you boot you'll be asked which Windows to boot to, the installer or a working version of windows.
Congratulations, you've installed Windows on your mac!
I'd like to thank several people for help with this. First the USB key trick was found at insanelymac.com - Thanks JamietheMorris.
Second, the main portion of the tutorial here was thanks to the folks over at 8na.de
Finally, none of this would be possible without one small tidbit from Severin over at macrumors forums. It was Severin's idea of erasing all the info from the hard drive and replacing it with the installation info that really brought all this together.