Each year that Apple releases a major new version of macOS, a few older Mac models that ran the previous version usually fail to make the new list of officially supported Macs. In the case of Catalina, the latest macOS version, the operating system doesn't work on models released before mid-2012 (and Mac Pros before late 2013).

Catalina
Apple's official list of Macs supporting macOS Catalina:

  • MacBook (Early 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)

To check if your Mac is compatible, open the Apple () menu in the upper left corner of your Mac's screen and select About This Mac. Look just below the OS X version number in the Overview tab – if the Mac model name is the same or a later model year than the one shown in the compatibility list above, your Mac is compatible with macOS Catalina.

What You Can Do if You Have an Unsupported Mac

If your Mac is too old to make it onto the above list, Apple has decided that it lacks the hardware required to meet the demands of Catalina. But that doesn't mean there's no way that you can get it running.

macos catalina patcher
DosDude Catalina Patcher is a popular third-party tool that allows users to patch the MacOS Catalina installer on otherwise unsupported Macs. Of course, just because you can do this, doesn't mean you should, as there's a good chance that performance will be sub-optimal, while Catalina features may depend on modern Mac hardware (Sidecar, for example) and likely won't work at all.

Despite these risks, if for whatever reason you're still interested in installing macOS 10.15 Catalina on older unsupported hardware, these steps should get you up and running. You can find a compatible list of unsupported Macs for Catalina Patcher on the DosDude website.

How to Use Catalina Patcher on Older Macs

Before you proceed with these steps, ensure that you have an up-to-date backup of your Mac. Attempting to install Catalina on an unsupported Mac is in no way supported by Apple, and you are doing so at your own risk. MacRumors cannot be held liable for any data loss or damage as a result.

  1. Download the latest version of the Catalina Patcher by DOSDude1.
    macos catalina patcher url

  2. Right-click the Catalina Patcher app and select Open.
    1catalina patcher tool

  3. Click Continue twice.
  4. Select Download a Copy.
    2catalina patcher tool

  5. Click Start download. It's over 7GB, so you'll have to wait a while for it to complete.
    3catalina patcher tool

  6. Connect a USB flash drive (formatted as MacOS Extended Journaled) into your Mac and select Create a bootable installer from the three Installation Method options.
    4catalina patcher tool

  7. Select your flash drive volume from the list and click Start.
  8. When the installer is complete, restart your Mac and hold down the Option key when the reboot tone sounds.
  9. Select your USB drive installer from the boot list.
  10. If your Mac is currently running a version of macOS that predates High Sierra or Mojave, you'll need to format your hard drive to APFS before installing Catalina. To do this, select Disk Utility, choose your system volume and click Erase, then select the APFS format. If you don't need to do this, simply select Reinstall macOS from the macOS Utilities window and follow the steps to install the new version of macOS on your Mac.
    macos high sierra recovery mode reinstall

  11. Allow the installation to proceed and the relevant patches will be applied to your unsupported Mac automatically.

Apple could always release a future update to macOS 10.15 that prevents the unofficial Catalina Patcher from working, so bear in mind that this could turn out to be a time-limited hack.

For more help on installing macOS Catalina on an unsupported machine, or for general macOS Catalina help, make sure to check out our macOS Catalina forum where MacRumors readers are discussing the latest Mac software.

Top Stories

REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...
Apple watch series 5 new case material made of titanium 091019

Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 Models Currently Widely Unavailable

Sunday August 1, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Models of the Apple Watch Series 6 with titanium cases part of the "Apple Watch Edition" collection is currently widely unavailable for pick-up in several of Apple's retail stores in the United States and is unavailable entirely for delivery in major markets. Noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, titanium models of the Apple Watch Series 6,...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
telegram

Bumper Telegram Update Enables Video Calls With Up to 1,000 Viewers

Saturday July 31, 2021 12:13 am PDT by
Telegram Messenger has received a major update to its video capabilities, including support for video calls with up to 1,000 viewers. Group video calls in Telegram allow up to 30 users to stream video from both their camera and their screen, and now a maximum of 1,000 people can tune into the broadcast. Telegram says it intends to continue increasing this limit "until all humans on Earth...
app store blue banner

Elon Musk: Apple's App Store Fees Are a 'De Facto Global Tax on the Internet'

Friday July 30, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter today to criticize Apple's App Store fees in a tweet that sides with Epic in the ongoing Epic v. Apple dispute. "Epic is right," wrote Musk, before going on to call Apple's App Store fees a "de facto global tax on the Internet." Musk earlier this week made veiled comments about App Store fees, but today's statement is a much more direct criticism....
FaceID iMac REREREREMIX

Top Stories: Face ID on Future Macs, Elon Musk Criticizes Apple, and More

Saturday July 31, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting range of Apple news and rumors, including a blockbuster earnings report, rumors about next year's "iPhone 14" and Face ID coming to Macs, and more. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other popular topics included Apple's crackdown on leaks, changes in the latest round of betas for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, and several stories...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...