If you landed on this webpage, chances are you are a Mac user and want to burn the Windows 10 ISO image on a USB drive.
Unfortunately, ever since macOS Mojave, Mac hasn’t made it easy to burn ISO files on an external drive. Moreover, because of the nature of the Windows 10 disc image, burning it on a pen drive is even more complicated than doing so with any other ISO file.
If you do not yet have a copy of Windows 10, then you can get one for free from the official Microsoft website HERE.
If instead of Windows 10 you thought of trying another operating system such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian or other Linux distributions, you’re in luck! The macOS command line steps used to burn any other operating system disc image beside the Windows 10 one are simple. Click HERE for a step-by-step guide on how to do this procedure.
The issue with the Windows 10 ISO image
If you try and burn a Windows 10 ISO while using the command line procedure used for any other disc image, it won’t work. That is because the usual “dd” command-line tool creates a Windows 10 bootable external drive that isn’t compatible with the specific UEFI boot process of Windows.
In other words, to burn the Windows 10 disc image you need to circumvent Windows’ initial launching sequence. Unlike macOS or Linux, Microsoft Windows uses a particular booting procedure upon powering on the computer. Alas, you cannot correctly integrate this process when burning a Windows 10 image on the macOS Big Sur Terminal the old-fashioned way. If you try to use “dd” to burn this particular OS image, the booting sequence will never be triggered, and your copy of Windows 10 will be unusable.
So instead of burning the ISO file on the pen drive using the usual “dd” command-line tool, we have to do something completely different. Fortunately, there are some workarounds.
You have three possible ways of burning a Windows 10 ISO file on your pen drive using macOS Big Sur.
Use the macOS Boot Camp Assistant.
You can find a step-by-step guide for this first method HERE.
This option requires macOS Mojave or macOS Big Sur and a USB key of 16GB or more.
THIS CAN ONLY BE USED TO INSTALL THE WINDOWS 10 ISO ON A MAC COMPUTER. If you intend to burn a Windows 10 ISO on a pen drive, choose another option.
Mount Windows 10 in macOS and copy its content to the pen drive.
You can find a step-by-step guide for this second method HERE.
You can only do this if you have a Windows 10 ISO file under 4GB.
Use the live version of a Linux distribution to create the bootable Windows 10 USB drive.
You can find a step-by-step guide for this third method HERE.
This option requires a bootable live version of Linux and two pen drives. If you aren’t sure of which Linux distribution to choose, you can find more about some lightweight options here.
A final word of advice:
If you plan on booting the Windows 10 ISO on a UEFI laptop or desktop computer, you will have to adjust some of your BIOS settings beforehand. Because virtually any machine built within the last eight years uses UEFI, you will need to follow the procedure used to disable the Secure Boot setting. You can find instructions on how to do so HERE.