It is possible to update a Mac to a later version that it is compatible with, bypassing the limitations imposed by Apple. However, the process can be quite complicated and requires a lot of user attention, so that everything works correctly. Follow our tutorial and learn how to update an old Mac.
How to update old Mac
Warning: Always back up your data before you start.
The installation methods for macOS Big Sur and Catalina are quite different. Check out each one of them:
macOS Big Sur Beta
The macOS Big Sur procedure is very complex and requires a lot of attention, mainly because it is still in a beta version.
You will need:
- The old Mac where macOS Big Sur will be installed, updated to the latest version of Catalina;
- A pendrive with at least 16 GB of space;
- Another Mac, this one compatible with macOS Big Sur (mandatory to format the pendrive);
- The patch files needed to install the update.
On a macOS compatible with Big Sur, do the following:
- Click on the Apple Menu, “System Preferences”, “Software Update” and download the macOS Big Sur installer;
- When the installer is run, close it;
- Access the patch website, click on the “Code”, “Download ZIP” button and download the patches;
- Unzip the .zip file and open the folder with the files;
- Open another Finder window and click on “Applications”;
- Right-click on “Installing macOS Big Sur Beta” and then on “Show package contents”;
- Open the folder “Contents”, “Resources”;
- Open a Terminal and type “sudo” (without quotes) and press the Space bar (do not press “Enter”);
- Drag the “createinstallmedia” file to the terminal, type “–volume” (without quotes) and press the Space bar;
- Drag the pendrive icon to the Terminal and press “Enter”;
- Enter the user password and press “y” to confirm the formatting;
- After formatting, type “sudo” again (without quotes) and press the Space key;
- Drag the “micropatcher.sh” file and the USB stick icon to the Terminal, in that order, and press “Enter”;
- After the process, type “sudo” again (without quotes) and press the space key;
- Drag the “install-setvars.sh” file and the USB stick icon to the Terminal, in that order, and press “Enter”.
On the old Mac where Big Sur will be installed, do the following:
- Turn off the Mac, plug in the flash drive and turn it on, holding the “Option” key during boot.
On a non-Apple keyboard, hold the “Alt” key;
- The internal HD drives for installing macOS and the “EFI boot” drive will appear, the last two referring to the pendrive.
If the units do not appear, disconnect the USB stick and connect again;
- Select “EFI boot” and hit “Enter”, the Mac will shut down;
- Switch it back on by holding “Option”, select “Install macOS Big Sur Beta” and hit “Enter”;
- At the installation screen, select “Disk Utility” and click “Continue”;
- Click on “View”, “Show All Devices”;
- Click on the disk drive on which the system will be installed, then on “Erase”;
- Enter the name of the drive, select “APFS”, “GUID partition map” and click the “Delete” button;
- Close Disk Utility and open Terminal;
- Type the command “/Volumes/Image\Volume/insert-hax.sh –seal” (without quotes) and hit “Enter”;
- Close the Terminal and click on “Installing macOS Big Sur Beta”.
At the end of the installation, the Wi-Fi will probably not be working. To correct this, do the following:
- Hit “Command + Q” (on a non-Apple keyboard, “Win + Q” key) and shut down the Mac
- Switch it back on by holding the “Option” key, select “Install macOS Big Sur Beta” and hit “Enter”;
- Open Terminal and type the command “/Volumes/Image\Volume/patch-kexts.sh/Volumes/[macOS disk drive name]” (without quotes) and type “Enter”.
If the unit has a space in the name, press the “Tab” key before the first space and the tool will complete the name;
- At the end of the process, restart macOS.
Important: by default, the tool installs patches for Macs manufactured in 2012. If your computer is from 2010 or 2011, type “–2010” or “–2011” (without quotes) between “patch-kexts.sh” and “/Volumes/[unit name]”.
After these procedures, macOS Big Sur will work on an old Mac, with Wi-Fi enabled.
For computers that stopped at macOS Mojave, there is a much simpler installation procedure than Big Sur, which does not require a compatible computer. However, you will still need a 16 GB minimum.
- Go to dosdude1.com and download Catalina patcher;
- Open the program and click on “Continue”;
- Click on “Download a Copy” and the program will download the macOS Catalina image;
- At the end of the download, connect the pendrive and click on “Create a bootable installer”;
- After creating the pendrive, restart the Mac by holding the “Option” key;
- Select the pendrive drive and press “Enter”;
- Click on “Reinstall macOS” and wait until the process is finished;
- Restart macOS by holding the “Option” key and selecting the USB stick;
- Click on “macOS Post Install” and wait for the necessary patches to be installed;
- At the end of the process, click on “Force Cache Rebuild”;
- Restart your Mac.
Once done, the old Mac will be running macOS Catalina.