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How to install macOS Catalina on unsupported Macs

install macOS Catalina on Mac

The new MacOS operating system Catalina 10.15 for Mac was officially presented in June 2019 during the Apple WWDC. With the new version comes a series of new features and very interesting updates. Unfortunately, not all users who had MacOS Mojave installed on their Mac will be able to upgrade to Apple's latest operating system. Apple's reason that old Macs do not have graphics processors compatible with Metal. No matter what you think, the result is that older Mac users can't officially try the new MacOS Catalina news. We say officially, because there is an unofficial method to install MacOS Catalina on unsupported Macs. Follow our detailed guide to find out how.

Install macOS Catalina on unsupported Macs

Requirements

Before you begin, make sure you have:

  • Access to a Mac that can be used to download and create a bootable USB installation drive.
  • The unit should be at least 16 GB in size and formatted in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format.
  • Back up the data on your Mac where you want to install Catalina.

Finally, keep in mind that this process is based on patches and hacks and you may still encounter some problems with running MacOS Catalina on your unsupported Mac.

CAUTION: if you have a computer that natively supports High Sierra, you MUST make sure you have the latest version installed BootROM of the system. If you have NOT previously installed High Sierra, you will need to download and install the latest version of BootROM. During installation, make sure that the system is connected to the power supply otherwise the update will not be installed.

Another suggestion before starting the procedure, to back up the data on your Mac on which you want to install Catalina. Finally, keep in mind that this process is unofficial and you may still encounter minor problems with running MacOS Catalina on your unsupported Mac .

Macs supported by macOS Official Catalina

Officially, macOS Catalina is supported only on the following Mac models, since they have graphics processors with support for Metal, Apple's graphic API.

  • MacBook (beginning 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (mid 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (mid 2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac (late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac Pro (late 2013 or newer)

Macs supported by the Catalina Patcher tool

Thanks to the macOS tool Catalina Patcher, you can install the operating system on the following Macs:

  • Beginning of 2008 or newer Mac Pro, iMac or MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Air or Unibody aluminum from late 2008 or newer
  • Early 2009 or newer Mac Mini or MacBook white
  • Early 2008 or newer Xserve

However, the following Macs are not supported, even with the installation of the Patcher tool:

  • Mac Pro 2006-2007, iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini
  • MacBook 2006-2008
  • MacBook Air 2008

Create USB installer macOS Catalina with patch

After checking if your Mac is supported, follow these steps:

  • Download the latest version of macOS Catalina Patcher from this link. Always download the latest version as the developer continues to update the app with the latest patches and fixes.
  • Run the app and click Keep it going.
install macos catalina

On the next screen, click "Download a copy". We will use this option because we will create a bootable USB drive installer.

install app catalina patcher

The installer is approximately 8 GB, so it may take some time for the download to complete.

download macos catalina
  • Once done, you will be given a choice of installation method. From here, select the drive plug-in USB flash and click "Create a bootable installer".
  • Once the unit is created, connect it to the unsupported Mac on which you want to install MacOS Catalina. Turn on your Mac and hold the button Option. You'll see it appear Startup Manager. Use the arrow keys to select the bootable USB drive and press Submit.
  • When the Mac starts in macOS Recovery, be sure to format the internal drive, where you will install MacOS Catalina, on APFS using Disk Utility. This step is necessary if you are upgrading from a very old version of macOS that did not support APFS.
  • The next step is to use the option Reinstall MacOS to start the installation process. Let the installation process complete. You may see some command line messages during the process. These are completely normal and are part of the installation process created by the developer, to ensure compatibility.
  • When installation is complete, shut down your Mac and restart it using the USB drive again. The reason for applying post-installation patches is to make sure Catalina works properly on the system.
  • When you return to the macOS Recovery environment, click on the option that says ?macOS Post Install'. By default, the installer will select all the right patches required for your Mac. Click Apply patches and allow the completion of the process.
  • After applying the patches, select the option that says "Force Cache Rebuild"And click on Restart.
  • The Mac will reboot and you will now be able to configure macOS Catalina.

Let us know how the procedure works and if it is clear in the procedure. If everything went smoothly, Catalina was installed on the unsupported Mac and you can use it correctly on an old Mac.