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How to Create Windows-Compatible ISO Disc Images on a Mac

Bryan Wolfe 24-03-2017

Here’s the dilemma. You’re a Mac user who has to create a clone of a disc to be shared with friends. However, the disk must be compatible with Windows.


Perhaps surprisingly, you can create a Windows-compatible ISO disc image through macOS without using any additional software or apps The 5 Best Free Apps to Check Disk Space Storage on Mac Here's how to check the disk space on your Mac to find out how much storage space you have and delete large files. Read More . All you need is your Mac’s Disk Utility and some magic from Terminal. Here are the simple steps.

1. Create an Image with Disk Utility

Note: If you already have a .CDR image, you can skip straight to the next step.

Connect an external drive (or, if you have an older Mac, insert a disc into the CD/DVD drive) to your Mac and launch Disk Utility, which performs many tasks Your Mac Has Built In Tools For These 10 Everyday Tasks Want to dictate notes, look up words, and merge PDFs? Your Mac has in-built tools for these tasks and more! Read More , from the Utilities folder. Your disk will appear in the left column window. Click on it once to highlight, as shown in the screenshot below.

How to Create Windows-Compatible ISO Disc Images on a Mac Mac Disk Utility

Now that you’ve selected the source of the disc image, click on File > New > Disk Image from… In the popup window, select Desktop as your destination. Next, make sure to choose DVD/CD Master as the Image Format. Choosing this format ensures the contents of the disk are copied entirely as a .CDR image.


You should keep the image’s name short so that it’s easily reproduced.

How to Create Windows-Compatible ISO Disc Images on a Mac Save ISO

If asked, enter your Mac password and hit OK to begin the disk image process. Depending on how large the disc is, the amount of time that’s necessary varies. You’ll see a progress bar estimating the time until completion.

Once the process finishes, hit “Done,” and check your Desktop for the .CDR image. In its current state, the disk is ready for use on any Mac. To share the file with Windows users, you’ll need to convert it into a recognizable format. To do this, you’ll use your Mac’s Terminal app These 6 Awesome Terminal Commands Will Boost Your MacBook You can only cram so much into graphical user interface before it becomes cluttered, so it should come as no big surprise that you can do some really cool things using the Mac Terminal. Read More .


2. Convert to .ISO with Terminal

You can find Terminal through Spotlight Search 7 Useful Things You Probably Aren't Using on Your Mac Better plan your day, quickly find what you're looking for and multitask like a boss — here's a look at seven excellent OS X features that you're probably not using. Read More or by visiting Go > Utilities from your Mac’s toolbar.

Assuming your .CDR file is on your Mac’s Desktop, open Terminal and type the following and hit the enter key:

cd desktop

Then, enter this line of code to transform the .CDR to .ISO and hit enter:


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

Substitute both instances of [filename] with the name of your .cdr image. For example, I named my ISO file TEST-IMAGE, so the line of code I used is:

hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -o TEST-IMAGE.iso TEST-IMAGE.cdr

How to Create Windows-Compatible ISO Disc Images on a Mac terminal


As you can tell from the screenshot above, Terminal will create a new hybrid image. This image can be used by both Windows and Mac computers that use ISO 9660 and HFS file systems Which Mac File System Is Best for an External Drive? Formatting a hard drive for use with your Mac? Here are your macOS file system options and how to pick the best one for you. Read More .

Easy, No?

There you go. You can easily create cross-platform hybrid disc images with your Mac without the need for any additional apps. How neat is that?

To mount the disk image in Mac, simply double-click on it. In Windows, use CD/DVD mounting tools Mount CD or DVD Image Files Virtually Using A Portable App Read More . You can also create and mount disk images How to Create & Mount Disc Images on a Virtual Drive Do you still have CDs or DVDs lying around? When an optical disc breaks, it's gone forever. We show you how to make digital and playable backups of your CDs and DVDs now! Read More on a virtual drive.

Did you run into trouble? Leave your questions below and we’ll try out best to help you out.

Related topics: CD-DVD Tool, CD-Rom, Clone Hard Drive, Data Backup, Disk Image, ISO, Virtual Drive.

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  1. John Yeary
    February 22, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Great article. It was very helpful and made a task for work easy as pie.

  2. kk
    August 29, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    which format -- mac, dos, etc

  3. Joseph Miller
    June 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I get the following message after entering the suggested text; hdiutil: makehybrid: unknown option "-Juliet"
    Usage: hdiutil makehybrid -o [options]
    Hdiutil makehybrid -help

  4. Antony
    April 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Great article, perfect timing. Thank you.

    The hybrid file was created, but it was very small compared to the original. CDR was 319 GB and ISO was 204 Mb. Also got the error:
    "hdiutil: makehybrid failed - Operation not permitted"

    I tried this on two files with same result.

    I'm trying to duplicate a hard drive (2 partitions) from a Windoze laptop onto an SSD. Was hoping to make ISO image for each partition (Windows & System-Reserved) and then build onto the SSD. Am I going about this correctly?

    • Bryan Wolfe
      April 21, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Make sure you have permission to create the file. It might ask you for the administrative password.

  5. Wim Grandia
    April 12, 2016 at 11:46 am

    you have to put "sudo" in front of the command so:
    sudo hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -o [filename].iso [filename].cdr

    it will ask for your password and then has enough permission

  6. Roman
    December 12, 2015 at 3:29 am

    When I create Its said, "Unable to create Windows 10.cdr" No space left on Device.. What does mean that? Thanks

  7. Anonymous
    September 7, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I cannot get past the first command in Terminal (never used it before )

    What do I enter next?

    Last login: Mon Sep 7 13:22:59 on ttys000
    joseph-conners-imac:~ joandgem$


  8. Anonymous
    August 31, 2015 at 9:50 am


    I've managed to create this hybrid file. I now need to make a bootable windows 7 CD but on my MacBook. I've tried to burn the new .iso to file and also convert the new .iso to cdr but no joy with either. Any ideas? Bri.

  9. Anonymous
    July 10, 2015 at 7:39 am

    @Bug Butt: You probably have a white space in your filename. Escape white spaces with a \, like below:

    hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -o My\ Disc.iso My\ Disc.cdr

  10. Anonymous
    July 3, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Thanks Jackson but the result I achieved is as follows...
    hdiutil: makehybrid: multiple sources specified
    hdiutil: makehybrid failed - Invalid argument

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks again. E.

  11. Sean
    May 13, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Very clever, exactly what i was trying to achieve and it worked a treat