How do I create a bootable flash drive for installing Windows 7?
If you have a Windows 7 installation disk but do not have an optical (CD/DVD) drive on your computer, you can create a flash drive to use in the installation instead. To do so, your flash drive must have at least 4 GB of space, and you'll need the valid product key that came with your Windows 7 software. You can create a bootable flash drive on either a Windows or Mac OS X computer.
Warning: The process in the steps below will delete any data currently on the flash drive. Before continuing, be sure to backup your flash drive's data by copying it to another flash drive, your computer, or an external hard drive.
Acquiring a Windows
Before creating the bootable drive, you must first obtain a Windows
.iso file. An
.iso file gathers all the
individual Windows files into one. Because of this, you cannot simply
copy this file to a USB drive, and you must use special software to
write it properly.
You can download legal
.iso files for Windows 7
Ultimate from Digital River, in both 32-bit
versions. Be sure to download the bit version that matches that of the
Windows 7 disk where you obtained your product key.
Creating a Windows flash drive installer on an OS X computer
Note: In Mac OS X, the option to create a Windows 7 flash drive will only appear if the computer you're using does not have an optical drive. On Macs with optical drives, the option will be either missing or grayed out.
In Mac OS X, to create a bootable Windows 7 flash drive:
- From the Finder, open the
Applicationsfolder, and then
- Open the
Boot Camp Assistant, and then click
Continue. The next screen should give you a list of options.
- UITS recommends making the USB drive installer first. You can skip the
actual Windows install and downloading the support software at this
time, as it will be easier to do both later. To proceed:
- Verify that the USB drive you will be writing to is plugged in.
- Uncheck the
Install Windows 7and
Download the latest Windows support software from Appleoptions.
Create a Windows 7 install diskand click
- Your USB drive should be listed in the "Destination disk" area.
choosebutton to browse to your
.isofile; after selecting it, click
If prompted, confirm your action and/or provide an administrator's password. The process of writing the
.isofile to the USB drive can take twenty minutes or longer.
Creating a Windows flash drive installer on a Windows computer
- From the Microsoft Store, download and install the Windows
7 USB/DVD Download Tool.
- From the
Startmenu, open the
Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool Setup Wizard.
- When prompted, browse to your
.isofile, select it, and click
- When asked to select the media type for your backup, make sure
your flash drive is plugged in, and then choose
- You'll likely be prompted to insert the USB device even if the
flash drive is already inserted. Ignore this, and simply choose the
USB device you'll be writing to.
Begin Copying. If prompted, confirm that you wish to erase the flash disk.
.isofiles will start copying to the flash drive (the process can take several minutes). When finished, close the wizard and eject and remove the flash drive.
To use the flash drive you've created to install Windows 7, see At IU, how do I install Windows 8 or 7?
Last modified on March 24, 2014.