Booting from a secondary Startup Disk: Mavericks

Use these steps to install Mavericks from your Mac to a different internal hard drive or to an external USB, FireWire, SD or a Thunderbolt storage device with at least 16 GB. If your Mac shipped with Mavericks you will need to use the Mavericks Internet recovery partition to create your startup disk. More info here on Internet Recovery:

Important: Proceed with caution these steps will erase the storage device. You should back up any important files that are on the device to a different drive before continuing.

Preparing your destination drive for Mavericks*

  1. Attach a USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt storage device to your computer, or insert an SDHC or SDXC card into the SD card slot if your Mac has one.

  2. You can use Drive Genius 3 Initialize tool and this “How to Guide” to prepare your drive for a new Mac OS X installation or Disk Utility.

  3. Once your drive is formatted advance to the next section to install Mavericks.

Install OS X Mavericks*

If you upgraded your Mac to OS X 10.9, your installer may have been removed after your successful first login to OS X Mavericks. To re-download the installer on a computer running Mavericks, go to the Mac App Store. In the search window type “OS X 10 Mavericks”. Since this is a free download you can click download. This may take a while since it is 5.29GB. Once the download completes, it will be called, “Install OS 10 Mavericks”.

  1. Launch the Install OS X Mavericks installer you downloaded from Mac App Store. The installer should be in the /Applications folder.

  2. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the OS X installation. Be sure you install Mavericks on the external storage device you’ve connected for this purpose, not your computer’s boot drive.

  3. When installation to your external device is complete, you can re-run Install Mac OS X Mavericks installer and upgrade the boot drive of your computer. A Recovery System will likely not be created, but if you need to reinstall or repair your boot drive at a later date, you can connect the external drive you just prepared and hold Command-R while restarting computer in order to boot from the external Recovery System.

This how to guide is based off of this Apple Support document and has a few additions: