Write Images to USB with AppleScript

As the only release engineer at $work, I have been tasked with creating the bootable USB devices of our FreeBSD-based product to send to the Contract Manufacturer. Every time a new release made it to General Availability (GA) status, Sabine would drop off a couple USB sticks and tell me which build to load onto them.

Wanting to empower her, I set out to create a better approach; one that did not involve dropping to the command-line and tapping-out a “dd” command. Meet a new AppleScript, named “WriteImage” written to take the guess-work out of the process.


With WriteImage you can now take the USB image file (*.img or *.img.gz) and drop it on the AppleScript droplet. It automates the process of generating the necessary commands to image the file onto hardware USB. Tell the app through a series of clicks or drag/drop actions which image to write, it then prompts you to insert a USB device, and then asks for confirmation (twice) before launching Terminal to do the dirty work.

Let’s see it in action (photo tour):

Selecting an Image file for WriteImage
WriteImage initial dialog when double-clicked.
Prompt to insert USB device
WriteImage prompt, waiting for you to insert a USB device to image.
Last chance before proceeding
WriteImage displays a Last Chance dialog before proceeding to do anything.
Writing the Image to USB
WriteImage runs a shell script that does the dirty work.
Imaging the USB Drive
WriteImage ultimately results in an automatically crafted “dd” command run via Terminal
Get progress with Ctrl-T
When “dd” is running, press Ctrl-T on the keyboard to see how much data has been written and how fast
As-is the case with FreeBSD images, when the process is complete, your Mac will give this error. Success in disguise.
Initializing a Drive
If you need to image a drive that is not currently readable by Mac OS X, click “Initialize…” and use Erase