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Installing Windows using a USB key or External DVD drive on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lionat 22:31 - 13th, May 2013
Tags: Mac OS X, 10.8, 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, rEFInd, VMWare Fusion, macbook pro 15", Apple, Microsoft
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:
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.
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.
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.
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