Updating macOS Catalina on Unsupported Macs

In October last year, Apple releases a new version of macOS dubbed as ‘Catalina.’ This latest installment of macOS includes new features, including new apps for podcasts, music, and TV (replacing iTunes), the ability to use iPad as an external monitor, a revamped Photos app, and many more. Seeing this, it’s no wonder that some Mac users want to update their OS version to Catalina. However, not all of them have the luxury to do so.

Officially, macOS Catalina won’t work on older Mac devices that are deemed not powerful enough, according to Apple. Additionally, they provided the official list of the supported Macs:

  • MacBook models released in 2015 or after
  • MacBook Air models released in mid-2012 or after
  • MacBook Pro models released in mid-2012 or after
  • Mac mini models released in late 2012 or after
  • iMac models released in late 2012 or after
  • iMac Pro released in 2017
  • Mac Pro models from late 2013

This means that if you have a Macbook Air or iMac released in 2011, you won’t be able to upgrade your OS to Catalina. What version of macOS do you have?

If you’re unsure what version of macOS you have, you can check your macOS or OS X version by clicking the Apple icon at the top-left corner of Mac’s screen, then select About This Mac. In the Overview tab, look at the Mac model year below the OS version number. If the year is the same or above the previous compatibility list, then you should be able to install macOS Catalina formally. If not, read on.

Make your old Mac support macOS Catalina

Older Mac owners don’t have to worry. It’s not the end of the world. There’s a patch that lets you install Catalina to Macs that are not officially supported.

The patch is known as DosDude Catalina Patcher. DosDude Catalina Patcher is a third-party tool, meaning Apple does not develop the tool. It’s made by an individual developer instead. Keep in mind that just because you can make your old Mac run Catalina, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will always be a good thing to do.

Apple prevents older devices to run Catalina for a reason. As mentioned before, anything older than the officially supported hardware will most likely offer suboptimal performance using Catalina, not to mention that some features need newer hardware to function properly.

Despite that, it doesn’t mean that all old machines won’t run macOS Catalina well. Given that your hardware is capable enough, running Catalina shouldn’t introduce any lasting problems. The macOS Catalina Patcher is also updated regularly to address any issues that may surface. Otherwise, you can always downgrade your macOS to an older version if needed.

Install macOS Catalina on an older Mac

Before we begin, it might be a good idea to have a backup of your system using Time Machine, just in case. Creating a backup is always recommended. It’s not only useful for installing a new OS version can enable you to undo any changes after an update, which would be very helpful should something go wrong.

Once you are ready to jump into upgrading, follow the step-by-step guide below to install macOS Catalina on an older Mac using DosDude Catalina Patcher.

  1. First off, download the most recent version of Catalina Patcher from the official website.
  2. After the app is downloaded and installed, open it.
  3. The app will present you with a welcoming message. Keep clicking Continue until it finishes.
  4. Afterward, you need to get the macOS Installer App from Apple. You can either Download a Copy or Browse for a Copy… if you already have one. If you choose to download, the file size is about 7 to 8 GB, so you may need to wait for a while.
  5. Plug in a USB flash drive to your Mac and select Create a bootable installer on the Installation Method section.
  6. On the next screen, your flash drive should be detected as a volume. Else, you may have to first format your USB drive into macOS Extended Journaled if you haven’t already.
  7. When the flash drive is detected, select it, and click Start.
  8. Once the bootable installer is copied into the USB drive, restart your Mac. Hold down the Option key while the rebooting process takes place to open up the Startup Manager.
  9. From the boot list, choose the USB flash drive installer.
  10. Then, you’ll be taken to the macOS Utilities window. One thing to note is that if you run a version of macOS that is earlier than High Sierra, you’ll need to reformat your installation hard drive to APFS before proceeding. Use the Disk Utility option from the available list on the macOS Utilities window to do so. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
  11. Click on Reinstall macOS to install Catalina. Simply follow the process until the new OS, and the relevant patches are installed successfully.

Now, you can enjoy the latest version of macOS on an older Mac. Remember that Apple doesn’t recommend you do this, so some troubles might show up when operating your device. Even though dosdude1, the developer of Catalina Patcher, introduces new patches regularly, it shouldn’t be surprising if the experience may not be as good as using Catalina on Macs that officially supports it.

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