(This is a layman’s guide for running Windows 10 pen-drive on a Macbook Air 13, and it has been drafted based on my collection of knowledge from various online resources about similar topics, as well as from the results I’ve garnered by applying the trial and error method into my forays in this area … I’ll share examples that worked in my case without explaining why do they appear to do so, simply because it won’t be possible to describe that with my limited technical expertise here.)
A few observations before I start describing my methods here…
1) It’s easier to create a Windows 10 pen-drive for a non-Mac PC and laptop. The same approach will not yield any results, however, when trying to boot from a Macbook, such as my Macbook Air 13.
2) One of the two main problems I’ve faced while creating a Windows 10 pen-drive was, Macbook’s refusal to recognise any pen-drive that did not have the boot files stored in a FAT32 partition. Which means creating more than one partition becomes a necessity, which the Diskpart utility (a tool I’ve heavily relied upon for this guide) doesn’t allow for the removable devices.
3) The second major issue in creating a Windows 10 USB was, Macbook’s refusal to complete Windows 10 installation, if a drive with a GPT partirtion scheme did not carry any HFS+ partition together with the Fat32 and NTFS ones to carry it out.
Using Diskpart and Gparted together for installing Windows 10
To overcome the first problem I chose to use Diskpart in a Windows 10 VB Machine in combination with Gparted in an Ubuntu VB Machine in my Macbook Air 13. I must also remind that I’m using the Trial Version of Windows 10 Enterprise apart from a 16GB pen-drive and a 160GB old HDD for this particular task. Both drives will be reformatted, so be ready to take backups, if necessary.
Let us open cmd with administrative rights, and write down the following commands…
select disk # (replace # with the disk number representing HDD)
create partition primary size 350
format fs fat32 quick
assign letter r
create partition primary size 11000
format fs ntfs quick
assign letter s
Now let us apply the install.wim file on the ‘s’ drive we created above by mounting the WIN 10 ISO in ‘e’ drive (or whichever other drive letter your Windows Explorer shows you) and applying the following command in cmd…
dism /apply-image /imagefile=e:\sources\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:s:\
Copy the boot files on the FAT32 partition now…
bcdboot s:\windows /s r: /f ALL
We have an HDD with a little more than 11GB size of data (the rest of space unallocated) ready to complete installation on a reboot. Be reminded that creating HDD partitions greater than your pen-drive’s size will cause multiple errors later, the reason why we have tried to keep the over all size of the new setup less than 16GB.
There are two options henceforth: a) Boot from the HDD in Macbook Air 13 and complete the WIN 10 installation, and clone the resulting setup to the 16 GB pen-drive in Gparted. b) Clone the existing HDD to the16 GB pen-drive in Gparted, and complete the installation by booting from the pendrive later.
I’ll go for the second method in my UBUNTU VB Machine in this case.
Open Gparted in UBUNTU to check the identity of the various active devices, and apply the following command by opening Terminal…
sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=1000000
Where sda=source device, i.e. HDD & sdb=target device, i.e. pen-drive. This will take sometime in duplicating the data to the target device. Extend the NTFS partition across the pen-drive’s unallocated space in Gparted after this gets over.
Now you have a pen-drive ready for completing the WIN 10 installation on a boot up in a Macbook Air 13.
Using Disk Utility, Gparted and Diskpart together for installing Windows 10
As stated earlier, a WIN 10 installation on a GPT drive, which does not carry any HFS+ partition, will not work on a Macbook Air 13. Mac OS doesn’t regard any GPT devices formatted in Diskpart as healthy ones, may be because of the latter’s inability, and therefore, its failure in creating the HFS+ partition, a Macbook may be looking for.
The best solution for creating a Windows 10 pen-drive with the GPT scheme would be, to create a GPT HDD in Disk Utility and resize, recreate and re-format the required partitioins in Gparted later. Disk Utility creates small partitions before and after each major ones, so the first 200MB FAT32 partition could always be used for storing the Win 10 boot files (It will have to be properly assigned a letter in Diskpart, though, for completing the task). The key is to resize the HFS+ partition created by the Disk Utility to, say, 500 MB (reducing it further should also work in theory), and create another 11GB NTFS partition in Gparted after that.
Another approach for creating a Windows 10 USB with the GPT scheme could be, to add HFS+ support to Gparted by installing ‘hfsprogs’ with the following code in terminal…
sudo apt-get install hfsprogs
And create a 350MB FAT32 partition, a 200-500MB HFS+ partition and an 11GB NTFS partition one after another, after applying the GPT partition scheme to your HDD.
Creating a GPT drive in Diskpart is not advisable because of the repetitive actions of formatting the first two partitions, with FAT32 and HFS+ file systems respectively, you will have to undertake in Gparted later, anyway.
Once you have a GPT HDD with a token HFS+ partition ready for installing WIN 10, you could repeat the two steps of applying the install.wim image and the bcdboot action described earlier on the relevant derive letters of it, and dd the resulting set up to the pen-drive using UBUNTU’s terminal as explained in the first part.
This will create a bootable pen-drive ready for completing the Win 10 installation on your Macbook Air 13.
Those wishing to create a Windows 10 pen-drive for non-Mac PCs and laptops should simply follow the following steps on their pen-drives…
Open cmd with administrative rights in WIN 10, and write down the following commands…
select disk # (replace # with the pen-drive number)
create partition primary
format fs ntfs quick
assign letter r
Now apply the install.wim file on the drive ‘r’ by mounting the WIN 10 ISO in ‘e’ drive (or whichever other drive your Windows Explorer hints about) and executing the following command…
dism /apply-image /imagefile=e:\sources\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:r:\
Copy boot files on the same NTFS partition now…
bcdboot r:\windows /s r: /f ALL
This should make a pen-drive ready for completing the WIN 10 installation on a boot up in the non-Mac laptops and pcs.