I'm using a Mac computer and I'm trying to install Ubuntu on an external HDD. I have the iso file for installing the OS but after following these instructions from Ubuntu to create a bootable USB stick, I have an error saying that the USB stick can't be recognised and I have 3 options : initialise, ignore and eject. When I click initialise Disk Utility opens. When I try to boot up from the USB, the flash drive isn't listed as a bootable device. What should I do?

  • There are some Macs that are simply not able to boot from USB As far as I recall. So It might be possible that your machine simply isn't able to boot from that device. May 1, 2013 at 6:12
  • @heiglandreas And how can we tell which one it is?
    – arsaKasra
    Dec 6, 2013 at 10:06
  • According to help.bombich.com/kb/troubleshooting/… PowerPC-based Macs can not be bootet via USB and Intel-basedMacs should be able to boot via USB. Dec 6, 2013 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Linux USB Creator for Mac can be used to achieve this:


  • First just select the linux distribution you want to use. You can either select from the list or browse for a Local ISO file to use.
  • After choosing Ubuntu you can browse for a USB device.
  • The program will then download the ISO, Format the disk, Copy the ISO and Install the Bootloader.
  • Your USB Drive is now ready to use. Simply boot up your mac while holding the “alt” key and select the drive.

A complimentary youtube video is also included can be viewed from the site to assist.

Please note this program hasn't been updated since the introduction of OS X 10.8 Monutain Lion.


I suggest you to use unetbootin to properly create the LiveUSB. It is a useful tool and is very simple to use.

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You can select to download the desired distribution from the topmost menu, or use an existing .iso file if you have already downloaded it, by using the bottom option.


Unetbootin can be run on every system, but the resulting LiveUSB can't be booted on MACs.

I don't have one at hand so I can't test it for you, but I found a guide on the Ubuntu Forums that explains how to correctly prepare a LiveUsb that will boot on MACs: [Tutorial] Boot Mac and PC into USB Linux!

  • I already used this program but after processing it displays a message saying that the USB won't be able to boot a Mac and I couldn't boot my PC...
    – moray95
    Apr 30, 2013 at 11:06
  • @moray95 - did you verify that you PC is set up to boot from the USB stick? It might be that the USB stick is initialized but there is some other problem preventing it from working correctly. I suggest to update your question with the related information, e.g. error messages when trying to boot. Apr 30, 2013 at 11:23
  • It is a bit confused, please help me clarify the situation. From which OS are you trying to create the LiveUSB? And the machine where you wan to install Ubuntu, is a PC or a MAC?
    – Sekhemty
    Apr 30, 2013 at 11:46
  • I have both Mac and PC. I want to use Ubuntu on the Mac. So far I only tried to create the USB from the Mac.
    – moray95
    Apr 30, 2013 at 12:11
  • 1
    LiveUSBs created with unetbootin can't be booted on MACs. Please see the update in my answer.
    – Sekhemty
    Apr 30, 2013 at 12:32

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