Mac OS: Making an ISO Image

Many people don’t know that Macs can native make an ISO disk backup without any third-party software – part of the Unix backbone of the operating system. This built-in tool allows anyone to save disc data quickly and reliably. I have included the instructions needed to make a perfect copy of any disc – simple and easy.

What is an ISO image?

For those unfamiliar with the the terminology, an ISO image is:

…a sector-by-sector copy of the data on an optical disc, stored inside a binary file.

Thanks Wikipedia! To put that into easier to understand terms, that means an ISO files copies a CD or DVD as an exact copy of what is on a disk. It’s kind of like putting a CD into a photocopier, metaphorically speaking, and copying all the physical data as data, not as files or music tracks. From this data you have an exact copy of the original.

Why is this important?

As we approach the next eta of the personal computer, we’ll be saying farewell to discs and disc readers. We’re already halfway there. All smartphones, iPhones, iPads and some laptops don’t have discs anymore. We are starting to see more digital content on the internet, such as movies and music, which were traditionally sold as disc media. As we move into this new stage, it is important to have all our information backed-up in a safe digital format, so you can have access to0 that software in the future, even when you don’t have a disc drive anymore.

How to make an ISO?

The Terminal command is as follows, but replace the SAVE PATH and DISC PATH with the appropriate locations on your computer:

hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -udf -o <SAVE PATH> <DISC PATH>

The easy way to do this take three simple steps:

  1. Copy this into your Terminal window:
    hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -udf -o
  2. Type a space and drag and drop the save location into the terminal window, or type “~/Desktop” to save it to your desktop.
  3. Type another space and drag your disc into the Terminal window, automatically inserting the disc’s location, and press return.

Alternative Method

Ok, I know some people just really don’t like using the terminal, so I have a second method that is equally as easy.

There is an amazing, free piece of software called Keka that can be used to make ISO images with a simple drag-drop interface. The program is actually a compression tool, but it supports a variety of formats, including ISO and DMG, used for making image copies of CDs, DVDs and directories. Because of these other functions, I always install it on my Mac as the my main (de)compressor software.

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