Making a Bootable USB Flash Drive for the MacBook Air 2011.
What you will need:
USB BacUp Drive big enough to hold the contents of your bootdrive. NOTE: The drive must be partitioned as GUID to be bootable.
Carbon Copy Cloner http://www.bombich.com/download.html
USB Flash Drive 8 GB (Get a fast one). I used a Patriot Xporter Dash 8 GB.
First Install Carbon Copy Cloner and clone your internal SSDDrive. Keep it connected to the Air.
BACKUP Your Boot Drive to the External USB Drive. Connect it to your Air.
From a cold boot press and hold the Option Key. You will be given the option to boot into your Regular SSD Internal Drive or onto Recovery HD. Boot onto Recovery HD. Select Reinstall Mac OSX. Mac OS Install will begin with a picture of a Lion and the option to continue. Select Continue. At this point a window will appear and say, “To download and restore Mac OS X your computers eligibility will be verified with Apple”. Select continue. To continue you must agree withthe terms of the software license agreement. Select Agree. Again it will ask you if you agree with the terms of the license software agreement. Select Agree. It will then prompt you to where you want to install Lion OSX, select your INTERNAL boot drive, as the Recovery HD will be grayed out. DO NOT INSTALL ON YOUR EXTERNAL DRIVE. At this point the installer will begin to download additional components and will indicate, “Your computer will restart automatically”. The download will take sometime depending on your Internet connection speed. I have a 13 Mbps connection so it took about an hour. Be patient and closely monitor the progress of the download. WE DO NOT WANT to continue the installation onto the internal drive! When the download is almost complete be in front of your Mac. When it boots HOLD DOWN THE OPTION KEY and select your EXTERNAL BOOT HD as the boot drive. Once you are booted into your external drive you can view the contents of the internal SSD drive. In the root directory you will find a folder called “Mac OS X Install Data. The folder will have a Red Dot with a Minus Symbol to the lower right corner of the folder. Don’t be alarmed if you cannot view the contents of the folder. Once you move it to the Desktop the Red Dot and Minus Symbol will disappear and you will be able to view the contents. Now Clone your External Drive to your SSD Drive. Once you have completed the clone process go to System Preferences and Select “Start Up Disk”, select your internal SSD drive you just cloned. This will eliminate the install process from beginning as the contents of your SSD drive will be back to it’s original state. You now need to prepare your USB Drive. Go to Utilities/Disk Utility and open it. You should see your USB drive to the left pane of Disk Utility. It will have TWO Names. My first name was 4GB Patriot Media and below that will be untitled or whatever name you have given it. Select the First Name (Manufacturer) Select Partition. Select Partition Layout and Select 1 Partition.Now Select Options and Select GUID Partition Table. Now under Partition Information Name the Partition Mac OS X Lion. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Format should default to Mac OS X Extended (journaled). Now Select Apply. You will get a window indicating “Are you sure you want to partition the disk? Select Partition. Now go to Restore and select the DMG inside the Folder Mac OS X Install Data on your Desktop and select the DMG file called InstallESD.DMG as the Source and the USB Flash Drive named MAC OS X Lion, drag it from the pane on the left, as the destination. A window will open and ask “Are you Sure You Want To Erase OS X Lion?” Select Erase. It will mow prompt you for your password to proceed. Enter it. The process should take about 20 to10 minutes depending on the speed of the USB Flash Drive. Once complete DiskUtility will rename the USB Flash Drive to Mac OS X Install ESD and will be mounted on your Desktop. Eject your External Driv(s) and disconnect them. Reboot and Hold The OPTION KEY. Select the USB Flash Drive “Mac OS X Install ESD”. If you get an error message “Unable To Install OS X”. Shut down the Mac and remove the USB Flash Drive and reset PRAM. Let the Mac reboot to internal SSD. Reconnect USB Flash drive and reboot. Hold Down the OPTION KEY. That should do it.
I know this is lengthy procedure and all steps must be followed to the T. I take no responsibility for loss of data or any other problems occurring using this procedure. You use this procedure at your own risk.
You will get the proper drivers and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion for your 2011 MacBook Air allowing you to boot from the USB Flash Drive.