OS X El Capitan Boot Camp Assistant app icon full size

Boot Camp, the Mac’s built-in software for dual-booting between OS X and Windows has been given some love in the new El Capitan software update and now features a slicker Windows setup that no longer requires a USB thumb drive, as discovered by Twocanoes.

Previously, Boot Camp required that the Windows installer be provided in the form of a USB drive or CD/DVD installation media. Now you can just point to an .ISO file, which significantly shortens the entire procedure for those who have purchased Windows as a digital download.

The first thing you’ll notice when you open Boot Camp Assistant on a new Mac that supports Windows 8 or later is the all-new Boot Camp interface.

OS X El Capitan Boot Camp Assistant Mac screenshot 001

As you can see for yourself, you no longer need to insert a USB Flash Drive as Boot Camp Assistant can at last copy the Windows installer directly from an ISO disk image.

This drastically shortens the Windows setup process as you literally just select the ISO file and how much space you want from Boot Camp, and then you click Install.

“After Boot Camp Assistant completes, OS X restarts to the Windows installer, and you follow the normal Windows installation,” reads the article.

New firmware magic

This is possible due to the new EFI firmware software on El Capitan.

Boot Camp Assistant basically creates an additional FAT32-formatted partition called “OSXRESERVED,” in addition to a Boot Camp partition. The OSXRESERVED partition has all the installer files, the Boot Camp drivers for Windows and the EFI firmware files for booting.

OS X El Capitan Boot Camp Assistant Mac screenshot 002

After the Windows setup process completes, the OSXRESERVED partition is removed during the next boot into OS X.

Is my Mac supported

Turns out this slicker way of installing Windows requires Mac hardware which supports the new firmware that makes this possible, including these models:

  • Mac Pro
  • MacBook Air 13‑inch
  • MacBook Air 11‑inch
  • MacBook Pro 13‑inch
  • MacBook Pro 15‑inch

The following Mac models still require a USB flash drive to install Windows in El Capitan:

  • iMac 21.5-inch
  • iMac 27-inch
  • MacBook Pro 13‑inch
  • MacBook 12-inch with USB-C

Apple also appears to have changed how Boot Camp is affected by El Capitan’s new System Integrity Protection (SIP). Also known as “rootless,” SIP prevents malware from modifying system files even if you’re logged in to your Mac with system administrator (“root”) privileges.

Source: Twocanoes via The Loop

  • Chris

    I think you have a mistake, you have the ‘MacBook Pro 13‑inch’ in both supported and not supported.

    • Blake Royer

      Not a mistake, just not enough information. Supported are the retina MacBook Pros 13-15in. Not supported is the original MacBook Pro 13 inch without retina display.

      • MrDDify

        I have a Macbook Pro 13 inch retina and it isn’t supported 🙁

  • Daniel Waske

    Haha how ironic that the device that would profit most from the USB drive-less BootCamp setup is actually not supported 😀 😀 😀

    • Blake Royer

      I’m guessing you are speaking of the MacBook 12-inch USB-C? I agree, it would make most sense on this model.

      • Daniel Waske

        yeah, sry, that’s the one I was referring to 🙂

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel

      I was expecting iMac support

    • John

      But it’s actually a big pain cause you need an adapter or a fancy usb-c usb

  • Plistumichu

    No Mac mini support?

  • Shawn Nunnelly

    I’m new to boot camp. So if I download the latest OSX El Capitan is there any way I can boot camp windows 7. I’m just seeing if this was possible since the new boot camp says windows 8 and later. Thanks guys!

    • @sexyhamthing

      Yes, you can. You can just upgrade to ten from 7 if you’d like. It’s a tad janky.

      I cant stand OSX (animation walls and hidden clock? srsly? ) and windows 10 runs signifigantly faster on my macbook than yosemite. Must update sooon

  • David

    Guys, I have a mid 2014 rMBP that I just loaded with a clean load of El Capitan last night and I don’t seem to have this ability. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Frank M. Schneising

      same on MBP 15″ (late 2011)

    • Sam

      Same here. 2013 MBA. Did you manage to solve?

    • László Laszlo

      Hi, I’ve got the same on Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014. My BootCamp version is 6.0.0 (519). Fresh OS X 10.11.1 install. Maybe my partitions are not supported?

    • NYC PIZZA RAT

      Bootcamp doesn’t work for me.. 2012 mid macbook pro. It goes through the usual setup but when it reboots all i see is a flashing underscore and black screen…and it sits there for hours. I should have just bought a windows laptop.

  • stevenxu94

    I have a non retina Macbook Pro 15′ 2012 and it does not support this. Did not see any firmware update? Why?

    • Sam

      Same here, 2013 MBA. Did you manage to solve?

      • stevenxu94

        I don’t think this is solvable, it’s Apple’s decision to drop the support.

  • Sam

    I have a mid-2013 MBA and I don’t have this option. Just like the rest of the comments. Check your source before making up news?

  • nereus

    when i open bootcamp i cannot proceed without an available flash drive, so how did you do? I think this carp only work for macbook withous SSD

  • h8hpd

    It won’t work on my late 2011 Macbook Pro 15″. When i open bootcamp it asks for a usb drive, the picture above does not show up, if i uncheck the box thats for download update files… yadayadayada… it stops asking for a usb drive, anyone have a work around?

    ******Im trying to install windows 7 from an .iso i created from my original disk.

  • gallean

    hi everybody, well i have a late 2013 mbp 15 (retina then) and it’s the same than few people in there, i need an usb key…hope it will be later a firmware update, install win7 on usb2.0 key with fast ssd is a real pain :/

  • yesvinnie

    I have El Capitan and supported Mac and Boot Camp Assistant doesn’t do this. In fact, it sucks so bad that I cannot install Windows using a 64-bit Windows ISO as it keeps giving me the 64-bit ISO required error. Boot Camp Blows.

    • NYC PIZZA RAT

      big time

  • NYC PIZZA RAT

    it says it supports macbook pro 2012 but then it later says macbook pro 2012 still requires usb LMAO.. witch one is it?