How to Create an Elementary OS Live USB Drive

Make a USB to boot into Elementary OS

This is a step by step guide to creating a live Elementary OS USB drive which will work on computers with a standard BIOS or UEFI

What Is Elementary OS?

Elementary OS is a Linux distribution aimed as a drop-in replacement for Windows and OSX. 

There are hundreds of Linux distributions out there and each one has a unique selling point used to entice new users into using them.

Elementary's unique angle is beauty. Every part of Elementary OS has been designed and developed to make the user experience as stylish as it can be.

The applications have been carefully chosen and blend in perfectly with the desktop environment making the interfaces look clean, simple and pleasing to the eye.

If you just want to get on with using your computer and don't want all the bloat that comes with Windows, give it a try.

Will the Elementary OS Live USB Break My Computer?

The live USB drive is designed to run in memory. It will not affect your current operating system in any way whatsoever.

To get back to Windows simply reboot your computer and remove the USB drive.

How Can I Download Elementary OS?

  1. To download Elementary OS, open your browser, and visit https://elementary.io/.

  2. Scroll down the page until you see Purchase Elementary OS. The Elementary developers would like to be paid for their work in order to make it possible for them to continue further development. Either click the button of the price you want to pay or enter a custom amount in the text box.

    Payment options on the elementary OS download page
  3. You should now see Download elementary OS in blue next to the prices. Press it.

    Download elementary OS button
  4. A modal window will pop up asking how you'd like to download the Linux distribution. Press Download to download the disk image directly or select the magnet icon to get the torrent magnet link to use with your torrent client. Either way will work, but the torrent method will probably be faster.

Getting the ISO to a USB Drive with Rufus

The software which you will use to create a live Elementary OS USB drive is called Rufus. Rufus is a small application which can "burn" ISO images to USB drives and make them bootable on both BIOS and UEFI based machines.

Follow our How to Burn an ISO File to a USB Drive tutorial for help getting that Elementary OS ISO image properly "burned" to a flash drive. The process is pretty simple.

Once complete, you will be able to boot into a live version of Elementary OS.

I Tried to Boot Elementary OS but My Computer Boots Straight Into Windows 10 or Windows 8

If you are using Windows 10 or Windows 8 or 8.1 then you may need to follow these steps to be able to boot into the live Elementary OS USB.

  1. Right click on the start button (or in the case of Windows 8, the bottom left corner).

  2. Choose Power Options.

    Power Options in Windows
  3. Select Additional power settings in the Display section.

    Additional Power Settings item in Windows
  4. Press Choose What The Power Button Does from the options on the left side of the window.

  5. Press Change settings that are currently unavailable.

  6. Scroll down and uncheck the Turn on fast startup option.

  7. Press Save Changes.

  8. Hold down the shift key and reboot your computer. (keep the shift key held down).

  9. When the blue UEFI screen loads choose to boot for EFI device.