How to Install macOS Catalina on an Unsupported Mac

by

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:

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.


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.

  2. Right-click the Catalina Patcher app and select Open.

  3. Click Continue twice.
  4. Select Download a Copy.

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

  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.

  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.

  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.

Related Roundup: macOS Catalina

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 Pro' to Come With 6GB of RAM

Friday July 10, 2020 1:59 am PDT by
Later this year, Apple is expected to release four OLED iPhones in three display sizes, including 5.4, 6.7, and two 6.1-inch models. Rumors suggest the 6.7-inch iPhone and one 6.1-inch model will be higher-end devices, and now leaker @L0vetodream has corroborated previous rumors about the internal specs of Apple's upcoming lineup. Rumors suggest Apple will use 5-nanometer A14 chips in its...

Apple Moving Forward on Semitransparent Lenses for Upcoming AR Headset

Friday July 10, 2020 7:24 am PDT by
Apple and Foxconn have reached a key milestone in the development of Apple's long-rumored augmented reality headset, with the semitransparent lenses for the device moving from prototype to trial production, reports The Information. Apple is developing the lenses on a single production line at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu in southwestern China, where most of Apple’s iPad production is...

Kuo: Apple Silicon Macs to Include 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air This Year, 14.1-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro Models Next Year

Friday July 10, 2020 2:58 am PDT by
At last month's WWDC, Apple officially announced that its Mac computers will be transitioned from Intel x86 to homegrown Apple Silicon chips. Apple said it plans to deliver the first Apple Silicon Mac by the end of the year and complete the transition in about two years. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with a form factor similar to the current 13.3-inch...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks WWII Movie 'Greyhound' Debuts on Apple TV+

Friday July 10, 2020 3:33 am PDT by
Apple TV+ today debuted "Greyhound," the highly anticipated Second World War movie starring Tom Hanks as a naval officer given command of Navy destroyer Greyhound in the Battle of the Atlantic. "Greyhound" features Hanks as George Krause, who must fight his own self doubts and personal demons as he leads a convoy of Allied ships against German U-boats to prove that he belongs in command. ...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Public Beta, iPhone 12 Size Comparison, 14-Inch MacBook Pro Rumors

Saturday July 11, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
After one round of developer beta testing, Apple unleashed iOS and iPadOS 14 to a wider audience this week, opening it up to members of the public beta program. There are lots of changes and new features to check out, but as with any beta, be careful about installing it on your main devices. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other major stories this week included our ...

Hands-On With tvOS 14: Picture in Picture, 4K YouTube, HomeKit and More

Thursday July 9, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple at WWDC introduced a new version of tvOS, the software that's designed to run on the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. tvOS updates are often more minor in scale than iOS, watchOS, and macOS updates, but tvOS 14 has some useful new features. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple in tvOS 13 introduced a Picture in Picture option for the Apple TV...

Apple CEO Tim Cook's 2019 Compensation Totaled Over $133 Million

Friday July 10, 2020 12:01 pm PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook was the second highest paid CEO in the United States in 2019, according to Bloomberg's list of the highest paid CEOs and executives in 2019. Cook received compensation totaling $133,727,869 by Bloomberg's count. Almost all of Cook's compensation was provided in the form of stock awards and related performance bonuses. As reported by the SEC earlier this year, Cook received ...