How To Create Windows-Compatible ISO Disc Images on Mac OS X

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I ran into this enigma a couple of days back. Here’s what happened: I needed to create a clone of a disc to be shared with friends and it had to be compatible with Windows (because it was a Windows-only disc anyway but that’s not the point). I knew for a fact that using Toast was a sure-fire way to create a clone of any discs. I began to do some research on Google, trying to find another method to create a Windows-compatible ISO disc image, without the use of any additional apps.

And guess what? Mac OS X does not disappoint. By combining the trusty Disk Utility and some black magic from Terminal, I was able to create an ISO on Mac OS X that works in both Mac and Windows. It’s actually pretty simple. Here’s how.

Insert the disc into the CD/DVD drive and launch Disk Utility. The disk will appear in the left column window. Click on it once so that its highlighted, as shown in the screenshot below.

create iso image on mac

Now that we have the source of the disc image selected, click on File->New->Disk Image from “insert name of source”. In the pop-up window which appears, select the Desktop as the destination just to make life a little simpler. Next, make sure that DVD/CD Master is selected as the Image Format — that ensures the contents of the disk are completely copied into a resultant .cdr image (Tip: keep the image’s name short and simple so that it can be easily reproduced).

create iso on mac

create iso image on mac os x

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Click on Save and the disc image creation process will begin, indicated by a progress window. Depending on how large the disc is, the amount of time that’s necessary varies.

When the cloning process is complete, check the Desktop and the .cdr image should be there. You can use this image on Macs, it works perfectly. However, to share it with Windows computers, we first need to convert it into a recognizable format. To do this, the help of Terminal is required.

Launch Terminal either by Spotlighting for it or directly double-clicking on the app in ~/Applications/Utilities/ and type in:

cd desktop

Then, enter this line of code to transform the .cdr to an ISO file:

hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -o [filename].iso [filename].cdr

Substitute both instances of [filename] with the name of the .cdr image. As you can tell from the screenshot above, Terminal will create a new hybrid image. This image can be read in both Windows and Macs and uses ISO 9660 and HFS file systems.

So there you go. You can easily create cross-platform hybrid disc images with your Mac without the need for any additional applications. How neat is that? To mount the disk image in Mac, simply double-click on it. In Windows, CD/DVD mounting tools are required — Saikat featured a couple great tools and Jorge wrote about one which doesn’t require installation.

That’s just one of the few uses of Disk Utility. Jeffry used it to install Snow Leopard from his thumbdrive — check the article out, it’s really neat.

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