Installing operating system images on Mac OS
Etcher is typically the easiest option for most users to write images to SD cards, so it is a good place to start. If you're looking for more advanced options on Mac OS, you can use the built-in graphical and command line tools below.
Note: use of the
dd tool can overwrite any partition of your machine. If you specify the wrong device in the instructions below, you could delete your primary Mac OS partition. Please be careful.
(Mostly) graphical interface
- Connect the SD card reader with the SD card inside. Note that it must be formatted as FAT32.
- From the Apple menu, choose 'About This Mac', then click on 'More info...'. If you are using Mac OS X 10.8.x Mountain Lion or newer, you will then need to click on 'System Report'.
- Click on 'USB' (or 'Card Reader' if you are using a built-in SD card reader), then search for your SD card in the upper right section of the window. Click on it, then search for the BSD name in the lower right section. It will look something like
nis a number (for example,
disk4). Make sure you take a note of this number.
- Unmount the partition so that you will be allowed to overwrite the disk. To do this, open Disk Utility and unmount it. Do not eject it. If you eject it, you will have to reconnect it. Note that on Mac OS X 10.8.x Mountain Lion, 'Verify Disk' (before unmounting) will display the BSD name as
/dev/disk1s2or similar, allowing you to skip the previous two steps. Note down the number that appears after 'disk', in this case the number '1'.
From the terminal, run the following command:
sudo dd bs=1m if=path_of_your_image.img of=/dev/rdiskn conv=sync
Remember to replace
nwith the number that you noted before!
This will take a few minutes, depending on the image file size. You can check the progress by sending a SIGINFO signal (press Ctrl+T).
If this command fails, try using
sudo dd bs=1m if=path_of_your_image.img of=/dev/diskn conv=sync
This will take a few minutes, depending on the size of the image file. To check the progress, open Activity Monitor, click the Disk tab and find the process with the name
ddis not in the list, you may need to select 'All Processes' from the View menu. The Bytes Read column will display the amount of data that has been read from the image. Compare that to the file size of the image to determine progress.
If you are comfortable with the command line, you can write the image to an SD card without any additional software. Open a terminal, then run:
- Identify the disk (not the partition) of your SD card, e.g.
Unmount your SD card by using the disk identifier, to prepare it for copying data:
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk<disk# from diskutil>
diskis your BSD name e.g.
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk4
Copy the data to your SD card:
sudo dd bs=1m if=image.img of=/dev/rdisk<disk# from diskutil> conv=sync
diskis your BSD name e.g.
sudo dd bs=1m if=2017-11-29-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/rdisk4 conv=sync
This may result in a
dd: invalid number '1m'error if you have GNU coreutils installed. In that case, you need to use a block size of
bs=section, as follows:
sudo dd bs=1M if=image.img of=/dev/rdisk<disk# from diskutil> conv=sync
This will take a few minutes, depending on the image file size. You can check the progress by sending a
SIGINFOsignal (press Ctrl+T).
If this command still fails, try using
rdisk, for example:
sudo dd bs=1m if=2017-11-29-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/disk4 conv=sync
sudo dd bs=1M if=2017-11-29-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/disk4 conv=sync
Note: Some users have reported issues with using this method to create SD cards, possibly because earlier versions of these instructions didn't note that it may be necessary to unmount multiple partitions on the SD card.
These commands and actions must be performed from an account that has administrator privileges.
- From the terminal run
df -h. For example:
$ df -h Filesystem Size Used Avail Capacity iused ifree %iused Mounted on /dev/disk1 233Gi 73Gi 159Gi 32% 1552273 4293415006 0% / devfs 189Ki 189Ki 0Bi 100% 654 0 100% /dev map -hosts 0Bi 0Bi 0Bi 100% 0 0 100% /net map auto_home 0Bi 0Bi 0Bi 100% 0 0 100% /home
- Connect the SD card reader with the SD card inside.
df -hagain and look for the new device which was not previously listed. Record the device name(s) of the filesystem's partition(s), for example
/dev/disk3s1. Notice the last two lines:
$ df -h Filesystem Size Used Avail Capacity iused ifree %iused Mounted on /dev/disk1 233Gi 73Gi 159Gi 32% 1552273 4293415006 0% / devfs 189Ki 189Ki 0Bi 100% 654 0 100% /dev map -hosts 0Bi 0Bi 0Bi 100% 0 0 100% /net map auto_home 0Bi 0Bi 0Bi 100% 0 0 100% /home /dev/disk3s5 60Mi 20Mi 40Mi 33% 512 0 100% /Volumes/boot /dev/disk3s1 812Mi 740Mi 71Mi 92% 0 0 100% /Volumes/RECOVERY
Unmount the partition(s) so that you will be allowed to overwrite the disk:
sudo diskutil unmount /dev/disk3s5 sudo diskutil unmount /dev/disk3s1
Alternatively, open Disk Utility and unmount the partition of the SD card. Do not eject it. If you eject it, you will have to reconnect it.
- Using the device name of the partition, work out the raw device name for the entire disk by omitting the final
rdisk. This is very important, as you will lose all data on the hard drive if you provide the wrong device name. Make sure the device name is the name of the whole SD card as described above, not just a partition of it, for example,
rdisk3s1. Similarly, you might have another SD drive name/number like
rdisk4. You can check again by using the
df -hcommand, both before and after you insert your SD card reader into your Mac. For example:
In the terminal, write the image to the card with this command, using the raw device name from above. Read the above step carefully to make sure that you use the correct
sudo dd bs=1m if=2017-11-29-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/rdisk3 conv=sync
If the above command reports the error
dd: bs: illegal numeric value, change the block size
If the above command reports the error
dd: /dev/rdisk3: Permission denied, the partition table of the SD card is being protected against being overwritten by Mac OS. Erase the SD card's partition table using this command:
sudo diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk3 1 MBR "Free Space" "%noformat%" 100%
That command will also set the permissions on the device to allow writing. Now try the
ddwill not provide any on-screen information until there is an error, or it is finished. When the process is complete, information will be shown and the disk will re-mount. If you wish to view the progress, you can use Ctrl-T. This generates SIGINFO, the status argument of your terminal, and will display information on the process.
ddcommand finishes, eject the card:
sudo diskutil eject /dev/rdisk3
Alternatively, open Disk Utility and use this to eject the SD card.
This article uses content from the eLinux wiki page RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup, which is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license