Windows 10 Media Creation Tool: Create a setup USB stick or ISO

If you want to install Windows 10, you first have to create installation media such as a bootable USB memory stick or a DVD with the Windows 10 setup. Fortunately, that is a simple thing to do, as Microsoft developed the Media Creation Tool for just that reason. If you want to learn where to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool and how to use it to create a USB stick or download an ISO file with the latest Windows 10 May 2021 Update (also known as Windows 10 version 21H1), read this guide:

Quick Steps

Create a bootable USB memory stick with the Windows 10 setup:
  1. Download and run the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
  2. Read the license terms, and click or tap Accept to continue.
  3. Check the second option: “Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC,” and press Next.
  4. By default, the Media Creation Tool uses the recommended options for your PC. It is best to leave these options as they are and just press Next.
  5. Plugin the USB memory stick on which you want to store the Windows 10 setup files, select “USB flash drive” and press Next.
  6. You see all the flash drives and external hard disks currently connected. Select the one you want to use for creating Windows 10 installation media, and then press Next.
  7. Once you have selected the USB flash drive, the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool starts to download the latest installation files.
  8. Once the download of the Windows 10 setup files is over, it is verified for integrity.
  9. When the process is finished, you are informed that the USB memory stick is ready. Click or tap Finish, and then you can use that drive to boot from and install Windows 10.

NOTE: This guide is based on Windows 10 May 2021 Update, the latest version of Windows 10, and MediaCreationTool21H1.exe, both officially released on May 18, 2021.

What you should know before you go ahead

Before creating an ISO file, a USB memory stick, or a DVD with the Windows 10 setup, you should first check these requirements and recommendations:

  • You must have a working internet connection to be able to download the installation files.
  • You must have sufficient free storage space on your hard disk or solid-state drive for the installation files. Microsoft recommends you have at least 8 GB of free space. However, the ISO file we last downloaded had 4.24 GB for the 64-bit version of Windows 10. When we chose to create an ISO file with both the 32-bit and the 64-bit setup, the file had 7.37 GB.
  • If you want to create a USB memory stick, note that any data stored on it gets deleted. Media Creation Tool needs to format it before creating the bootable memory stick with the Windows 10 setup.
  • If you want to create media with Windows 10 setup, you need to use a DVD or a USB memory stick with at least 8 GB of storage space.
  • If you intend to upgrade your computer or device to Windows 10, make sure it meets the system requirements. You can check them here: Windows 10 Specifications.
  • You must be logged in as an administrator on your computer to use the Media Creation Tool.

How to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

If you're wondering what the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool is, here’s the answer: a small executable file made by Microsoft, that allows you to download Windows 10 and create your installation media both on USB devices or in an ISO file. Furthermore, the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool also lets you directly upgrade your current computer or device to the latest version of the operating system.

The next question you might ask is: "How do I get Windows 10 Media Creation Tool?" To download the Media Creation Tool, open your favorite web browser and go to this webpage: Download Windows 10. Scroll until you reach the "Download tool now" button found in the "Create Windows 10 installation media" section.

Download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Microsoft asks you to download an executable file called MediaCreationTool21H1.exe, with a size of 18.5 MB. The file name ends with the version number of the latest Windows 10 update. In our case, 21H1 is the version number for Windows 10 with May 2021 Update. Save the executable file for the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool somewhere on your PC and then run it with a double-click or double-tap.

Double-click on MediaCreationTool21H1.exe

When you see the UAC prompt on your screen, choose Yes to allow the MediaCreationTool21H1.exe to run.

UAC asks your approval to run the Media Creation Tool

Depending on what you want to do, read the next section of this tutorial or the one after it.

TIP: The future versions of the MediaCreationTool21H1.exe file and of Windows 10 will have a different version number at the end. To learn more about Windows 10 versions, read: How to check the Windows 10 version, OS build, edition, or type.

Use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to create a bootable USB memory stick with the Windows 10 setup

You can use the Media Creation Tool as a Windows 10 USB tool. In other words, it can download the Windows 10 setup files and automatically create a bootable Windows 10 USB memory stick, which you can then use to install the operating system on any computer. When the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool loads its user interface, it asks you to accept its license terms. Read the terms, and click or tap Accept to continue.

Accept the license terms for the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Media Creation Tool needs a few seconds to "get a few things ready." Then, it asks whether you want to upgrade your PC or create installation media that you can use to install Windows 10. Check the second option: "Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC," and press Next.

Choose to create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file)

Next, you can choose the Language, Edition, and Architecture (32-bit, 64-bit, or both) that you want to use for the Windows 10 setup media. By default, the Media Creation Tool uses the recommended options for your PC. It is best to leave these options as they are and just press Next. However, if you uncheck the box for "Use the recommended options for this PC," you can set things in detail before moving on to the next step.

Select the language, architecture, and edition

You are prompted about the media storage you want to use. Plugin the USB memory stick on which you want to store the Windows 10 setup files, select "USB flash drive" and press Next.

Choose to create a bootable USB flash drive with the Windows 10 setup

You see all the flash drives and external hard disks currently connected to your Windows computer or device. Select the one you want to use for creating Windows 10 installation media, and then press Next. Do not forget that all the data on the drive is going to get wiped during this process. Make sure that you have a copy of it before moving forward.

Select the flash drive or external hard drive for the Windows 10 setup files

Once you have selected the USB flash drive, the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool starts to download the latest installation files. Depending on your internet connection speed and the load on Microsoft's servers, this might take a while. All you need is patience.

Downloading the Windows 10 setup files

Once the download of the Windows 10 setup files is over, it is verified for integrity. Then, the USB memory stick you selected is made bootable, with the newest Windows 10 setup. This process may take another couple of minutes.

Creating the Windows 10 media

When the process is finished, you are informed that the USB memory stick is ready. Click or tap Finish, and then you can use that drive to boot from and install Windows 10.

Click or tap Finish

Safely remove the USB flash drive from your computer, and use it as you see fit.

TIP: To install Windows 10 without problems, read: How to install Windows 10 from DVD, USB, or ISO file.

How to use the Media Creation Tool to download an ISO file with the latest Windows 10 setup

You can also use the Media Creation Tool to create a Windows 10 setup ISO file. When the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool loads its user interface, it asks you to accept its license terms. Read the terms, and click or tap Accept to continue.

Accept the license terms for the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

You are asked to choose what you want to do. Select "Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC," and click or tap Next.

Choose to create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file)

By default, the Media Creation Tool chooses for you a recommended language, architecture, and edition of Windows 10. If you want to personalize these settings, uncheck the box for "Use recommended settings for this PC," and make your selections. When you are done, press Next.

Select the language, architecture, and edition

You are asked to choose which media to use. Select "ISO file" and click or tap Next.

Select ISO file and press Next

The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool asks you to select where you want to save the ISO file and the name you want to give it. Browse your computer or device, choose the location that you want, choose a file name (by default it is named Windows.iso), and then click or tap the Save button.

Choose where to save the Windows 10 ISO file on your PC

Media Creation Tool starts to download the latest Windows 10 installation files to your computer or device. Depending on your internet connection speed and the load on Microsoft's servers, this might take a while, so give it a couple of minutes.

Downloading the Windows 10 setup files

Once the download is over, it is verified for integrity to make sure that everything is OK. Then, the ISO file is created in the folder you selected, with the file name you chose.

The Windows 10 setup ISO file is created

When the Windows 10 ISO file is created, you are shown where it was saved. Click or tap Finish.

The ISO file was created

You can burn the ISO file with the Windows 10 setup to a DVD or mount the ISO file in a virtual machine.

Did you have issues using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool?

As you can see, using the Media Creation Tool is intuitive and straightforward, even if you are not a technical expert. With our instructions, you should have no trouble creating a Windows 10 ISO setup file of your own or a bootable Windows 10 USB memory stick with all its setup files on it. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments section below.

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