I see posts all over the web for how to create a bootable USB stick to install Windows 7 but there is an easier way. Microsoft has made available an open source tool to do this. It is the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.  All you need is an ISO image of Windows 7 and a USB stick that is 4GB or more. Then download and run the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.

The tool is available from the two locations below:

 

Here are the steps to use this tool…

1. download, install, and run the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.
2. Select the ISO image (This is the Windows 7 Install DVD ISO image)
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3. Choose USB key (This tool can also burn a DVD)
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4. Choose USB key (This USB key must be at least 4GB)
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5. It will warn you that you are about to erase the data on the USB stick.
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6. Watch the progress until it is finished. Close the app.
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That is the process – you are finished and you have a USB key ready to boot off of and install Windows 7. Compare it to the manual process I have listed below and you can see this is much easier to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.

Enjoy!

 

For fun I have also listed the manual way to setup your USB Key.

The 11 steps for manually preparing a USB Disk to be a bootable Win 7 Install.
1. Diskpart (Run from a CMD prompt)
2. List Disk
3. Select Disk # (Where # is the number of your USB disk)
4. Clean (removes any partitions on the USB disk, including any hidden sectors)
5. Create Partition Primary (Creates a new primary partition with default parameters)
6. Select Partition 1 (Focus on the newly created partition)
7. Active (Sets the selected partition to an active valid system partition state)
8. Format FS=NTFS (Formats the partition with the NTFS file system. This may take several minutes to complete, depending on the size of your USB key.)
9. Assign (Assigns the USB drive a drive letter)
10. Exit
11. Copy all the files from the Windows 7 DVD to the USB Stick.