Unable to install PureOS because the install drive is not recognized

I am unable to install PureOS on my Lenovo Thinkpad T550 because the install drive is not recognized.
From my Thinkpad E16 running Windows 10, I downloaded PureOS 10.0 and created an install drive on a USB using Etcher.
When I plug the USB into the T550, the D: drive shows up in File Manager but it says “Please insert a disk into USB Drive (D:)”.
This also happens on the E16 were the install drive was created.
I can’t erase the USB on either system and try again, because Windows doesn’t think there is any disk in the drive.
I can’t format the USB on either system because it issues a message “Windows is unable to complete the format”.
It seems like all I have accomplished is to ruin a flash drive.

Any suggestions how to resolve this?

After you burn the iso to the drive with etcher, you need to reboot the computer and have it boot off that flash drive.

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Windows wont recognize the drive after its been written. Have you tried to boot from it anyway? (Hint: Your wireless won’t work on the Thinkpad w/ PureOS unless you post-install add the drivers). Other than that, you should be able to format the drive from windows built in disc management utility

I have put the flash drive in each of the three USB ports on the Thinkpad but it doesn’t boot off it. I used to get some message during startup to press F1 (I think) to interrupt
initialization but I don’t get that anymore. Do I have to create the install drive on the same computer that I want to use it on?

No, you have to get into the BIOS and tell it to boot off the USB drive. You can try F1, F2, Del, or ESC (its usually one of them. Maybe F10).

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I think PureOS, at least in the past, didn’t have images that could boot in pure EFI mode. Here’s a related thread: https://superuser.com/questions/1283337/pureos-iso-on-usb-unavailable-for-boot-efi-on-mac-os-x

A solution would be to turn the computer to boot in BIOS mode.

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I have spent several hours monkeying around with this and gotten nowhere.
I am not a hacker.
I am not going to be able to do this without clear step by step instructions that don’t assume any prior knowledge except how to press keys.
Thanks for you efforts and don’t waste anymore time on me.

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Sadly, step-by-step instructions are not possible. Computer manufacturers control the software (typically called BIOS) they load on their computers that boots things further.
That BIOS is typiclly proprietary, and the user interface is not standardized even between devices of a single manufacturer. The only thing you can go on by for experimenting with it is the manual.

Of course, if the problem is elsewhere, the solution is different.

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From Lenovo website: “For some models, instead of pressing F1, continuously press Enter during powering on until a Startup Interrupt Menu displays.” Which means to me that you need to “turn-off” this Lenovo Thinkpad T550 by restarting it from WinOS (not by power-off as this will lock your HDD) and start to continuously press F1 after you see that T550 laptop is off and shows some initial power-on light (sign of life).

@knurtsj, page 103 is showing you that you need to set BIOS there to Legacy Only.

And if you want to completely remove OS that already installed there (after you backup what necessary) we will help you to install PureOS there? Please take our good will to help you to get familiar with the Linux world. Please change boot order inside of BIOS as well after finding if pressing F1 or F2 or F7 helps to get into BIOS, your first move toward … I’m not familiar with but still suppose that T550 hardware is good place to start (do not give up with your positive idea, also you do not need to rush yourself or us but everything looks fine to me to indeed have a new start).

EDIT: Page 78: “Restart the computer. When the logo screen is displayed, press F1 to start the ThinkPad Setup program.