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Peter Cooper
Peter Cooper

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How to Create a Bootable USB Stick from the Windows 11 ISO on macOS

An unused Intel NUC has been staring at me from across my living room for months, so I decided to torture it with a Windows 11 install.

Microsoft has a Windows 11 ISO you can download now, so I figured I'd use BalenaEtcher to 'burn' it on to a USB stick and boot the NUC from it. Easy. Wrong.

Creating a USB stick from the Windows 11 ISO that actually boots is tricky on macOS. BalenaEtcher, an otherwise useful and common tool for copying images to USB sticks, doesn't like Microsoft's offering for annoying, complicated reasons.

Luckily, there is a way.

  • Make sure Homebrew is installed. If you're a dev, it probably is.
  • Mount the Windows 11 ISO in macOS so it appears on the desktop and is available at /Volumes/CCCOMA_X64FRE_EN-GB_DV9 or similar.
  • Put the USB stick in.
  • Use diskutil list at the terminal to find your USB stick. It'll be something like /dev/disk5 – I'll pretend it is for the rest of these instructions.
  • diskutil eraseDisk MS-DOS "w11" MBR disk5
  • rsync -avh -progress -exclude=sources/install.wim /Volumes/CCCOMA_X64FRE_EN-GB_DV9/ /Volumes/w11
  • brew install wimlib
  • wimlib-imagex split /Volumes/CCCOMA_X64FRE_EN-GB_DV9/sources/install.wim /Volumes/w11/sources/install.swm 4000


(Please note that certain names and numbers above will vary depending on locale or configuration. Make sure to update those as you follow the instructions.)

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