Make a Bootable El Capitan USB Drive for Mac from Windows PC

After a couple days of random Google searches, I finally was able to put together enough information to figure out how to make a bootable USB drive to restore my Mac using a PC. Yes, my Mac took a dive, a huge one. It won't even start up, so I found that the only possible way of fixing it on my own without taking it into the shop and spending hundreds of dollars I can't afford, was to try to re format the Mac's Hard Disk and install the latest version of OS X on it. I am crossing my fingers it will work! TIP: before you start, you might want to get the os x software .dmg file download started because it's over 6gb and takes a while. Click on the first link under the Download OS X Software heading below to get that going and you can take your time with the rest.

Download OS X Software

The first thing you want to do is download the El Capitan Software from one of the following links:

The best option for me was to download the .dmg file directly from:


Beware that it is a 6.2GB file and will take quite some time to download in most cases.

If the above link doesn't work for any reason, you can try this second one if you are good at piecing together the .rar archives:



Download TransMac

The first step to creating your El Capitan USB dongle using Windows is to download TransMac, which can be done free of charge using the following link:

Click the above link and then click on the hyper link that reads "" towards the top of the resulting page.

Once you have the TransMac .zip file downloaded, if it's not already on yoru desktop, move it there so you can follow this tutorial easily. Unzip it to your desktop and click on the setup file to install it. You can accept the defaults while going through the GUI. It's nothing very important, just get to the "install" button at the end and click it and you are golden. Before clicking on "Finish" however, you should uncheck the "read me" and "run" options because we have to run it a certain way as you'll soon see.

Now's a good time to insert your USB stick, thumb drive, dongle or whatever you call it. Backup any files you want to save and erase them from the USB drive to be safe.

Next, right click on the new shortcut icon for TransMac the install process should have created on your desktop and select "run as administrator". You will want to then run the free trial.

Once TransMac is running, select your USB drive from the menu on the left by right clicking it and choosing the "Format Disk for Mac" option and clicking "yes" to continue if a warning pops up about losing files or formatting etc...

You'll be asked for a Volume Name next, enter something like "EL Pwn Version" and click "ok". Soon, it will say "Format Complete" and click "ok" again.

Again in the left side of TransMac, right click on your USB drive and this time select "Restore with Disk Image" and then select the copy of the "EL Pwn Version.dmg" file you should have downloaded to your desktop earlier.


 Summary and Credit

If you follow along with this tutorial closely, hopefully you were able to get a copy of El Capitan installed on your Mac using only a Windows machine to build your bootable USB flash drive. I have to give credit to the YouTube video at because it was the only source I found online that even remotely covered how to do this successfully.



18 thoughts on “Make a Bootable El Capitan USB Drive for Mac from Windows PC

  1. When i download the file it says,UNKNOWN SIZE,so the percent point dose not changes it stays 0%,So if it gets to 6.2GB,Will it stop downloading?

  2. Hello:
    I'm not an Apple tech.Just a guy that works with computers.

    But I tried your make a USB bootable using your .dmg file in a Macbook Pro with Lion installed.It give an error when doing the Recovery to USB.
    You are making the USB with TransMac. There's something different when using one method versus the other ?



  4. This worked a treat for me.
    After the HDD died in the Mac, I visited many dodgy websites to find a download for Yosemite or El Capitan, all of which tried to install malicious software on my PC.
    It was a welcome relief to find
    Many thanks to Ian for helping me out on this.
    The old Mac Book Pro lives again!

  5. Thank you, procedure worked with only too issues:
    1.) even an 8GB stick wasn't big enough
    2.) I had to use terminal to change the date on my machine before the image would load

    I very much appreciate the time you took to put this together.



  6. Thanks a lot.
    The VMWare solution didn't work for me, because it didn't have the "Apple MAC OS X" in it, although I followed the instructions.

    So, the flash memory is now formatted and the image is being copied to it, but how can I use it to install the OS X within the Mac Book I've erased everything on it?

    1. You can contact Ian L. to purchase the script on any page of my site. Just email me at and I'll be happy to help you acquire the script you need and help you set it up. Thanks for asking!

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