Instructions for installing macOS Ventura on an external hard drive (box)
When your Mac crashes, having an external drive (box) running macOS can be a lifesaver — but Apple has made this setup more difficult. Here’s how to do it.
Creating a bootable box is very good and necessary. Before you do, you’ll need to reformat the box, so you need to make sure you back up your important data.
Apple has put in place barriers to prevent you from creating an external boot drive on macOS Ventura, it really wants to prevent others from creating such a bootable drive and plugging it into your Mac. Apple has done that to protect your Mac from the bad guys. Before doing this, you need to prepare:
- Allow your Mac to boot from external drives.
- Prepare a bootable external drive.
That first thing is important and you have to do it before you run into any problems. Because if your Mac won’t boot, you don’t have access to enable booting from the outside.
So here’s what to do now, while your Mac is running fine. And how you do that depends on whether your Mac is running an Intel chip or an Apple Silicon.
How to enable booting from an external drive on an Intel Mac
Intel Macs come with a T2 security chip that blocks what could be unauthorized access to your Mac. To enable the use of external drives on an Intel Mac, you must:
- Restart your Intel Mac
- Press and hold Command + Ras soon as you see the Apple logo
- When prompted, choose your username from the list that appears
- Enter your admin password for that user
- From the menu bar, select Utilities > Startup Security Utility
- Log in
- Tick Allow booting from external or removable media
How to allow booting from an external drive on an Apple Silicon Mac
Similar to the Intel Mac, but the Apple Silicon Mac is a bit different in how to boot into Recovery Mode.
- Turn off your Mac
- Press the power button and hold it
- Release when you see one or more drives and Options
- Select Options and click Continue
- When your Mac boots into Recovery Mode , select the Mac user you know the password for
- Log in as that user
- Ignore all options in the pop-up list, on the menu bar select Utility > Startup Security Utility .
- Click to select your Mac’s internal drive and then select Unlock
- Follow the prompts regarding the password and select Security Policy
- In the Security Policy window , click to select Reduced Security
- Then click OK
- In the Recovery menu , select Shut Down
How to install macOS Ventura on an external hard drive (box)
It is recommended to use an SSD for the best experience.
How to format an external drive on macOS Ventura
- Connect an external drive to your Mac
- Open Finder > Applications > Ultilities > Disk Utility
- Carefully select the external drive from the list that appears
- Click Erase
- Name the drive
- From the drop-down menu, select APFS
- Click Erase
This will take a few minutes. In the meantime, download macOS Ventura from the App Store.
Apple doesn’t list it directly, so search for ” macOS Ventura “, then hit Get .
If your Mac is running Ventura then what will happen next is that you will be directed to System Settings > Software Update . At first, it looks like you’re updating your current Mac, but wait a minute.
After a while, a pop-up pops up asking if you want to download macOS Ventura. Click Download .
Once it’s downloaded — and it’s only a 12 GB file — the update will run and prompt you to allow it to install Ventura. If your external drive is already formatted, follow the prompts to install Ventura — but take special care to make sure you select the external drive.
After a few minutes of preparing the external drive, your Mac will ask you to restart. Even if you don’t install Ventura onto that Mac’s own drive, you’ll still need to let it reboot to perform the process.
You now have an external hard drive with macOS Ventura on it
So you have completed the installation of macOS Ventura on the SSD box. In fact, you will also be prompted through some questions, such as setting up Siri…
You can skip most of these items, even if it looks like Apple hides the “not now” button.
Make your external hard drive more useful
If you’re using a box because there’s some problem with your Mac’s internal drive, chances are you’ll need to start by copying any data from that failed drive.
That means you need an external drive with enough space to take all the data of the internal drive. Or at least large enough that you don’t have to copy data just a few gigabytes at a time. So a fast and large drive is essential.
If you’re only using this feature to repair the internal drive, you can keep a copy of the Install macOS Ventura app on it. Run Disk Utility from the external drive and you can reformat the internal drive, then reinstall Ventura.
However, when you need to use it more than an emergency, you need to be more prepared. In that case, signing in to iCloud is required. Or, maybe you have a set of applications that your company uses, in which case keep copies of those applications on an external drive so you can install them when needed.
And if the problem isn’t a fix but a more frequent problem of booting from an external drive, then you need to set it up the same way you would with any Mac.
In that case, if you know that’s the intended use of the drive, the best step is to answer all the questions of the Install macOS Ventura app. Do all of that through the installation process or afterwards by going into System Settings.
Apple made it so bad guys couldn’t easily start your Mac. You can make it easy so you can boot it up and also work from that external drive.