Quick Tip: Save the OS X Yosemite installer

YosemiteInstallerIconXApple released OS X Yosemite yesterday, and while you might have prepared your Mac by backing it up, and updating as many of your apps as possible, one additional step you might take after you have purchased and downloaded OS X Yosemite from the App Store is to save the installation package that you download to your computer.

This package will appear as a regular program in your Applications folder called Install OS X Yosemite, and it will contain all of the files necessary to install Yosemite onto your Mac. When you download it from the App Store it will automatically launch to have you install the new OS software; however, if you do so then this installer will be deleted from the Applications folder.

Even though this saves space for most people, there are times when you might wish to keep the installer around. Several of these include the ability to quickly create a virtual machine that hosts Yosemite, the ability to install Yosemite more quickly to other Macs you might own by transferring the installer locally instead of re-downloading it for each, and using the installer to create a separate installation drive.

Yosemite installer in OS X

The destination for your Yosemite installation will be listed in this view, be it a second hard drive, external drive, or second partition. You can quit the installer at this window, and then access the program in your Applications folder to back it up.

Keeping the installer around might be especially useful to have as an archive for virtualization purposes. For instance, if you can imagine yourself at a later point with a new Mac that will not run Yosemite, which you might want to use to run Yosemite in a VM, then you will need the installer to do so. Unfortunately, your new Mac will not be able to even download the Yosemite installer from the App Store because of compatibility restrictions.

If you have these or any other uses for the Yosemite, then the way to keep it is when the installer program launches, simply quit it by pressing Command-Q or choosing Quit from the Application menu. After this, go to your Applications folder, locate the file called “Install OS X Yosemite,” and copy it to a USB thumb drive or other storage location. Keep in mind it is several gigabytes in size, so you will need at least an 8GB thumb drive to store it on.

Voila! That’s it! You can now copy this program to other systems, dissect it, or use it for other purposes before or after installing Yosemite to your main computer.

6 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Save the OS X Yosemite installer

  1. Lawrence

    I’d like to archive the installer so I can create VMs from it later, as you describe. However, the archived installer obviously won’t reflect any subsequent updates (such as security patches) from Apple. So any VMs I create from it will have to be individually updated over time, a minor nuisance, especially as I tend to save multiple VMs in different flavors.

    I realize this seems unlikely, but is there any way to update the installer itself? Alternatively, would the Mac App Store let me download newer versions of the installer even though they know that I’ve already downloaded the (earlier version) installer?

    1. Gary

      We have been able to download updated installers in the past and I’d expect this to continue with 10.10. Just go back to your Purchases screen at the Mac App Store and look for the relevant product.

  2. Matt Strange

    Excellent tip (as always) but the more vital need is to be able to make a bootable Yosemite installer. Ever since Snow Leopard I’ve been extracting the disk image from the installer app and putting it on a flash drive. Being able to install in a flash (pun intended) is significant, particularly when I’m being paid to help a user recover from whatever disaster has befallen them.
    Anyhow, I took a look in the installer package, and must admit that it didn’t look familiar. Of course, it’s been a while since I made my Mavericks installer flash drive, and I may have forgotten the steps. (Where did I put those instructions?) Maybe Topher will publish it as a tip and I won’t have to dig so hard.

  3. Steve Degenhart

    Did all the “right stuff” and installed Yosemite to my Macbook pro (late 2012 model). I worked with it after the install, linked my ipad and iphone and everything seemed to be fine. Today, I tired to use it and I get the start up sound and a blasck screen. After a while, I get a screen that says I have to change my password. Okay, I did that and it restarted. Came back to the same problem, boot sound, black screen and then asking for a new password. I cannot get past this screen. I tried command-p-r, nothing. I tried shift contro; option…nothing. Any ideas before I take to the repair shop?



    1. Strod

      One idea: Reboot with Command-R pressed so the Mac boots into Recovery mode and try to fix it from there (perhaps by reinstalling Yosemite).

      1. Steve Degenhart

        I tried your advice yesterday and reinstalled Yosemite. It worked just fined and does not appear to have any other problems. Emails work okay. This was sent from my iPad.

        Thanks for your help!



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