Can You Install macOS Big Sur on Unsupported Macs? Yes, But It’s Not Simple

Friday, January 15, 2021 8:28 PM

Want to run macOS Big Sur but don’t have a computer on the list of

macOS Big Sur Compatible Macs

  • MacBook Pro (Late 2013 and newer)
  • MacBook Air (2013 and newer)
  • MacBook (2015 and newer)
  • iMac (2014 and newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017 and newer)
  • Mac Pro (2013 and newer)
  • Mac Mini (2014 and newer)

If you’re an advanced user who is comfortable with running unsupported system software on unsupported hardware, and you’re feeling adventurous, there are some solutions to install and run macOS Big Sur on unsupported Macs, but it’s nowhere near as straight forward or simple as installing Big Sur on an officially supported Mac is.

The approach we’ll mention here is perhaps the best documented, using a “primitive USB patcher” that is applied to a USB boot disk. It’s fairly well documented on the patches Github page, but it’s not for the average user by any means, and you’re on your own if you attempt to use it to run Big Sur on a Mac that otherwise wouldn’t support it. One of the major caveats mentioned is to avoid any Mac that doesn’t have a Metal GPU, as the performance is apparently very slow on those older Macs.

You’ll want to make sure you have a complete backup of the Mac with Time Machine before even attempting any of this.

You’ll want to be sure to read through the entire document and follow the steps very carefully if you attempt to go this route, as it’s fairly complicated.

As with all unofficial tweaks and mods like this, there is no official support, but there’s a useful thread on MacRumors Forums that pertains to the topic that may be of use to the adventurous users out there who wish to try this.

If you have past experience using the excellent DosDude tool for Mojave or for installing Catalina on unsupported Macs, you’ll find the Big Sur Micropatcher is not quite as simple, and Dosdude has already publicly stated that a Big Sur patcher will not become available. The experience now is closer to that of running a Hackintosh PC compared to simply patching an installer and letting it run on an older Mac.

Is this worth the hassle, risk, or effort to force Big Sur onto an unsupported Mac? That’s for you to decide, depending on your technical competency and how badly you want to run macOS Big Sur on a Mac that it wasn’t intended for.

For the vast majority of Mac users, if you’re already running a functional version of Mac OS system software on another computer, it’s recommended to simply stay on whatever version that is rather than try to force the Mac to run unsupported system software. Although some newer officially unsupported Macs reportedly run Big Sur fine, many older Macs are not supported for a reason, and so the expectation shouldn’t be for a great or perfect experience if you go this route.