Well this started off as just a test to satisfy my own curiosity. I wasn’t sure if it was possible to boot & run Mac OS X Mountain Lion from my old iPod, so I figured I’d give it a shot and see if it worked. 4 hours later, I was running Mac OS X from my iPod. As a matter of fact as I write this article I’m booted into my iPod Classic.

Just to clarify, all that’s happening, is the Mac is reading the files off the iPod. It’s still using the Macs graphics card and ram, ect. This iPod can then be plugged into another Mac and booted up with a copy off all the latest files on your actual computer.

Firstly you should start off with a freshly formatted iPod. I have instructions written up in a previous article if you want to know how to format it: Turn your old iPod Classic into a Portable Hard Drive


How to Run Mac OS X from an iPod

how to boot run mac os x mountain lion from ipod classic pen drive

Boot from iPod

Well first let me just say, it sounds great but it really isn’t. The problem is, while the old iPod Classics come with a large hard drive, those hard drives are very slow. I’ll explain, when I initially copied my Macs hard drive content to the iPod it took 3.5 hours to transfer just over 35GB. Also when I booted from the iPod, it took around 13 minutes for it to get to the login screen. It does work, but it’s not the ideal choice, especially since this can also be done on faster external drives as well as flash drives.

If you’re still interested in using your iPod Classic to boot Mac OS X you’re going to need an application called Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC). Read more about CCC in my other article here: Duplicate your Mac with Carbon Copy Cloner

Once you’ve gotten Carbon Copy Cloner installed (free trial version will also work) follow these steps.

  1. Start with a freshly formatted iPod.
  2. From the Source list in CCC select the hard drive or partition where your Mac Operating System is located.
  3. For the Destination, select the freshly formatted iPod
  4. Click the “Clone” button located on the bottom right.
hold down alt options key mac startup disks boot from

Hold down “Options” Key

Once it’s done, there are two ways to boot from the iPod Classic. One way is to open System Preferences -> Startup Disk -> and select the iPod. This will tell your Mac to boot from your iPod Classic when you start the computer up. I had problems with this however, System Preferences froze and I had to force quit it. So another way to boot from the iPod is to hold down the “options” key on your keyboard as soon as the Mac starts up. This will bring to view all the drives and partitions that can be used to boot into. Select the iPod Classic and wait a few minutes, it takes quite a while to boot.

Interested in doing the same thing with your Windows PC computer? Check out CloneZilla.