I have a USB stick with a Fedora 11 live environment on it. It's booting fine on 3 PCs where I've tried it.

But I can't get it to boot on a Mac (Intel). When pressing the alt key (or command key, I don't remember which one) during startup I can only choose the "Macintosh HD" and the USB stick doesn't appear.

5 Answers 5


In order to create an Intel Mac bootable USB stick, it needs to be setup for EFI/GPT. This should work as of Fedora 10, but it's not automatic; you need to create a USB stick specifically configured for this purpose.

According to the Fedora 10 release notes, you can do this using the livecd-iso-to-disk tool like so:

livecd-iso-to-disk --mactel /path/to/live.iso /my/partition

replacing the path and partition as appropriate. However, this post suggests that the MBR may also need to be cleared (destroying all existing data on the USB disk):

livecd-iso-to-disk --mactel --reset-mbr /path/to/live.iso /my/partition

Other details on creating a USB stick are in the Fedora wiki, though curiously nothing about support for Intel Macs. I've had success with this method in the past, though it seems somewhat hit and miss. As far as I know, it's not possible to create a USB stick that will boot on both Intel Macs and non-EFI machines.

  • 1
    I tried livecd-iso-to-disk --mactel, but the script told me i had to do livecd-iso-to-disk --mactel --format instead, which successfully created a bootable USB stick. Jul 23, 2011 at 11:42

I'm not sure you can do this directly; you might require something like rEFit to be able to boot into an Intel Mac with your live usb.

Have a look at the Myths and Facts About Intel Macs page on their site.

  • rEFit can see the key, then I've got a, error about Mac firmware having troubles with USB. I think I can forget about booting the mac on this USB stick.
    – slubman
    Aug 22, 2009 at 20:21

You may try to press "E" at startup.
Or see if it is visible as a startup disk (System Preferences » Startup Disk) and boot from there (reboot).

  • 1
    THIS IS IT. I have been looking for the key to press to invoke the boot from options in a mac. Nov 24, 2012 at 2:15

Some notes on booting Intel Mac from external USB drives.

[it is] possible to boot an Intel Mac from a USB flash drive. That is a bit more involved, and there are several methods. One is Das Boot, a free utility from Sub Rosa that allows you to convert original disks from DiskWarrior, Drive Genius, TechTool Pro and others to a flash drive. Let Google be your friend on this. Many people have put their favorite rescue utility on a bootable flash drive to save them from any problems in the field.

Before you ask; no, USB does not support target disk mode -- a sore point for MacBook Air and unibody MacBook owners.

  • Good notes. Unfortunately, Das Boot is not supported for Leopard, and other tools are Mac OS related as far as I read. Then on the tuaw link, looks like they're talking of USB hard-drives. I'm trying to boot fro a USB flash-drive (no external power source)
    – slubman
    Aug 23, 2009 at 17:08

The Flash Drive has to have a GUID Partition Table. The Windows7 Tool diskpart finally implemented this or of course MacOSX itself.

Also, the flash drive has to feature a HFS+ filesystem.

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