How to Create an Elementary OS Live USB Drive

Create Elementary OS USB Drive
Create Elementary OS USB Drive.

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?

To download Elementary OS visit

Scroll down the page until you see the download icon. You may notice the $5, $10, $25 and custom buttons as well.

The Elementary developers would like to be paid for their work in order to make it possible for them to continue further development.

Paying a price to try something out isn't perhaps something you want to do if you end up not using it in the future. You can download Elementary OS for free. Click Custom and enter 0 and click outside of the box.

Now press the Download button. Choose either the 32-bit or 64-bit version. The file will now start to download.

What Is 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.

How Do I Get Rufus?

To download Rufus visit

Scroll down the page until you see the big "Download" heading.

There will be a link showing the latest version available.

How Do I Run Rufus?

Double click on the Rufus icon (probably within the downloads folder on your computer).

A user account control message will appear asking whether you are sure. Click Yes.

The Rufus screen will now appear.

How Can I Create The Elementary OS USB Drive?

Start by inserting a blank USB drive into the computer.

1. Device

The Device drop-down will automatically switch to show the USB drive that you just inserted. If you have more than one USB drive inserted into your computer you may need to select the appropriate one from the dropdown list.

I recommend removing all USB drives except for the one you want to put Elementary OS onto.

2. Partition Scheme and Target System Type

There are three options for the partition scheme:

  • GPT partition scheme for UEFI
  • MBR scheme for BIOS or UEFI
  • MBR scheme for UEFI

3. File System

Choose FAT32.

4. Cluster Size

Leave as default option

5. New Volume Label

Enter any text you wish. I suggest ElementaryOS.

6. Format Options

Make sure there is a tick in the following boxes:

  • Quick Format
  • Create a bootable disk using ISO image
  • Create extended label and icon files

Click on the little disk icon next to the create a bootable disk using ISO image.

Choose the Elementary ISO file that you downloaded earlier on. (It will probably be in your downloads folder).

7. Click Start

Click the start button.

The files will now be copied onto your computer.

When the process has completed you will now be able to boot into a live version of Elementary OS.

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

If you are using 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.
  3. Click Choose What The Power Button Does.
  4. Scroll down and uncheck the Turn on fast startup option.
  5. Click Save Changes.
  6. Hold down the shift key and reboot your computer. (keep the shift key held down).
  7. When the blue UEFI screen loads choose to boot for EFI device.