How to Install MacOS Catalina on Unsupported Macs

Nov 8, 2019 - 60 Comments

How to install MacOS Catalina on unsupported Macs with DosDude tool

Want to run MacOS Catalina 10.15 on a Mac, but that computer isn’t on the official list of Catalina supported Macs?

Then you may be interested in a third party tool that allows advanced uses to patch the MacOS Catalina installer so that it works on otherwise unsupported Macs.


Whether or not you should install MacOS Catalina onto an unsupported Mac is another question entirely, as performance may not be up to par, and some things may not work as expected (or at all, since features like Sidecar are compatible with specific Macs only), but if you’re an advanced user who is interested in running macOS 10.15 on unsupported hardware this patcher utility makes it easy to do so.

If this sounds interesting to you, check out the link below to learn more about the DosDude Catalina Patcher utility, and you can view a video tutorial further below showing how it works.

If you’re going to attempt to run this patcher and install MacOS Catalina on an unsupported Mac, be sure you have full complete backups of the computer and understand that running unsupported system software on an unsupported Mac has obvious risks.

DosDude has been tweaking with the MacOS system installers for a while, and you may recall a past article discussing running macOS Mojave on unsupported Macs too using a similar patch.

Which Unsupported Macs Can Install MacOS Catalina with the DosDude Tool?

According to DosDude, the MacOS Catalina Patcher will work to install MacOS Catalina on the following list of otherwise unsupported Macs:

  • Early-2008 or newer Mac Pro, iMac, or MacBook Pro:
    • MacPro3,1
    • MacPro4,1
    • MacPro5,1
    • iMac8,1
    • iMac9,1
    • iMac10,x
    • iMac11,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx series GPUs will be almost unusable when running Catalina.)
    • iMac12,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx series GPUs will be almost unusable when running Catalina.)
    • MacBookPro4,1
    • MacBookPro5,x
    • MacBookPro6,x
    • MacBookPro7,x
    • MacBookPro8,x

  • Late-2008 or newer MacBook Air or Aluminum Unibody MacBook:
    • MacBookAir2,1
    • MacBookAir3,x
    • MacBookAir4,x
    • MacBook5,1

  • Early-2009 or newer Mac Mini or white MacBook:
    • Macmini3,1
    • Macmini4,1
    • Macmini5,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 6xxx series GPUs will be almost unusable when running Catalina.)
    • MacBook5,2
    • MacBook6,1
    • MacBook7,1

  • Early-2008 or newer Xserve:
    • Xserve2,1
    • Xserve3,1

As you can see, that list is significantly broader than what is on the list of MacOS Catalina compatible Macs.

It goes without saying that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and some Macs may not perform well, and not all features may work as expected if trying to run MacOS Catalina on unsupported hardware. This is very much a third party tweak, and is of course not supported by Apple in any way.

The video below demonstrates a tutorial walking through the process of using the DosDude Catalina patcher tool to install the macOS 10.15 system software on an unsupported Mac.

If you’re going to attempt to install MacOS Catalina on an unsupported Mac, do so at your own risk, and let us know how it goes in the comments below.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

60 Comments

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  1. Anthony Maze says:

    I installed Catalina on my late 2008 MacBook Pro -2.4Ghz C2Duo 8GB Ram & SSD as a fresh install and so far everything seems to be working fine. Boot time is about 70secs inclusive of the black code & progressive bar indicator screen. Trackpad works in all modes as does the keyboard lights & brightness keys. Thought I would try it with a few browsers open, email, a movie playing, music playing and working on an excel file and it is working effortlessly – swiping between screens is smooth with no delay which I am so surprised as it certainly wasn’t like this when I was running Mavericks. I will report back later after some working time and see if the performance has changed.

  2. MATUBA says:

    hi
    Everything is working well but… but Imovie preview has a black screen for movie or pictures.

  3. Pablo says:

    @Obon, based on your comments I actually do not see you as an “advanced user”. Her question was valid, obviously this will void any warranty and of course it will not be supported. I think everyone understands that, not sure why you keep repeating that, that’s not “advanced user” jargon. ;)

  4. Scott Cook says:

    How to I get into recovery mode after catalina has been installed..I need to run a time machine recovery and everytime I press command + R it doesnt do it

  5. No, I managed to upgrade from High Sierra to Catalina no problem on my Macbook Air late 2011. It retained all my apps and everything worked like a charm.

    Only once did I get a worrying error on boot. Left it powered off overnight and the next day it booted off just fine… Maybe it needed to sort stuff out on its own… 😅

    • miglto says:

      Can you clarify how you upgraded? I have a macpro5,1 running the latest mojave (10.14.6). Unclear to me how to upgrade to catalina (10.15.3), as the installer says “Install a new version of the OS” (or similar) as opposed to “upgrade or install new” from the normal installers.

  6. Riky says:

    Hey man, I have the same machine but I can’t install. Setup starts but at the end, it returns to the installation page and the system doesn’t start. Why?

  7. Philip Gaskins says:

    Installed on MacBook mid 2010. Works great, upgraded from High Sierra. Stock 250 gb hd. But has 9 gb memory. Lost a few 32 bit apps like iPhoto and iDVD.

  8. George Miranda says:

    macbookpro8.1 13″ late 2011 not installed update Night shift patch
    install clean catalina 10,15,2 —ok

  9. Mike says:

    Am I correct in believing this dosdude workaround is for fresh installs only, and not for upgrades from Mojave to Catalina?

    • Josh says:

      Im wondering the same thing as I’m on a patched 10.15.1 and can’t see any updates but am aware there is an update for 10.15.2.
      There is a log update for the patcher that supports .2 but can’t seem to get it to work with out the need for full install.

      if anyone has a way to update would be great.

      Thanks :)

  10. BobCov says:

    Indirectly related observations I am putting here in case some else can benefit. In the pursuit of getting Catalina Patcher to work, I have downgraded to the Sierra patcher and in doing that, these two things are noted:
    1. The installation said it could not proceed because there were no valid project files. Well, go to Terminal, set time with “date 0115124517” and then the installation will proceed further. I don’t know if it will complete because I am still waiting.
    Another interesting tidbit, if you are running the installer in a language you cannot read, click on the back button after booting up and you will find a language selection menu. Both of these tips have been very useful to me today.

  11. Lisa W says:

    So let me get this straight, I SHOULD NOT do this on my mid 2011 imac if I have a AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1024 MB graphics card?

    • Obon says:

      Lisa, this is for advanced users only. If you don’t know the answer to your question then the answer is that you should not do it, that’s as straight as you can get. This is installing an unsupported MacOS Catalina OS onto a Mac that is not meant to run it. If you personally don’t know why or how it works, why would do something that could break your computer? Don’t take the risk.

      • Lisa W says:

        Yes, I get that. I am an advanced user and have used Mac exclusively since the early 90s. I just purchased a new 2019 iMac, but I have an old 2011 iMac on which I would like to run Catalina. However, I don’t want to take the chance if I don’t have a compatible graphics card. It appears I could possibly do this with my model, but there is a side note about the graphics card. I will probably just hang with what I have for now and use for storage.

        • Obon says:

          From my own experience, don’t try to run the unsupported OS software when an important hardware module is not fully compatible, it’s a real pain when something like that does not work.

          • MeThinks says:

            Obon, why do you bother to post here?

            This site is for people who know how to do a back-up, etc, and want to try something outside of the bounds set by Apple.

          • Obon says:

            MeThinks I am offering my opinion about the unsupported Catalina systems, I do not think most people are well suited for that. If you use it and it doesn’t support your hardware, what do you get? A broken system? I do not recommend that and I think Apple would not recommend it either.

          • Nick C says:

            What a strange thread with Lisa’s question. The answer is obvious and simple: Load Catalina on a separate drive and test it. Run it, install all your favorite programs on it, push it any way you want. Option 1: Are you happy with the results? Great! You have a new OS. It may not last updates but you’re happy. Option 2: You don’t like it? No problem! Just reboot while holding the option key, choose a different drive, and load up your last system.

            There you go, Lisa. The only answer you need.

    • Bob says:

      You asked a straightforward question and got a really snippy oh-she’s-a-girl answer, which I think is pretty lame.

      The answer you deserved was “Yes, that’s right.”

      • Obon says:

        Bob this is an advanced topic about installing system macOS Catalina on unsupported Macs, that means the Mac won’t support the software on its own and that decision as made by Apple, it has nothing to do with whatever weird rant you’re on, maybe you watch too much TV. Why would you want to install unsupported software if you don’t know how? Do you want to brick your Mac or lose your disk data? If you don’t know that and instead you’re getting distracted by other comments then maybe you should not try to use Catalina on a Mac that can’t run it. If this topic is over your head please don’t try to use this software as you will not find it workable for you.

        I do NOT run Catalina this way because I do not want the problems. This is tech support nightmare, think of that.

    • Piserroini says:

      Some of the 2011 MacBook Pro computers had a GPU that went bad this is a tool that tries to help that but I don’t know about how it works with Catalina

      https://gist.github.com/cdleon/d1eff7246a25193304284ecec40445b0

  12. Lxixboss says:

    Once you have installed Catalina, you have to reboot to the installer and run the appropriate post-install script to install the patches required by your particular Mac. (Dosdude’s installer now detects you Mac’s model and suggests the required patches… quite slick indeed!) Once that has been done, you can shut down, eject the installer and boot to your new installation. Brilliant!

  13. Hector says:

    I like the way this worked. It was simple and it worked, but, can MacOS be updated once it is patched? It seems I will be stuck on 10.15 with no patches or updates available for me.

    • Alex says:

      You only get updates if you change your HDD/SSD format to APFS, if you stay in the old format you don’t get software updates from the AppStore.

  14. Scoobs says:

    Have same issue, downloaded patcher today and reboots to install menu not Catalina

  15. rien says:

    MacPro early 2008 3,1 – NVIDA 8800

    Catalina patch fails. About 4 minutes left on the installer, then reboots and shows the same options again. (I tried both updagrading to APFS and reformatting to APFS)

  16. Alireza says:

    I’ve upgraded my Macbook Pro Late 2008. I followed doddude1 instructions and everything went smoothly. Everything’s fine about this Mac version.

  17. Thomas Esparza says:

    I upgraded my MacBook Pro 13″ Mid-2010 which is a MacBookPro7,1 with an NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256 MB graphics card. I believe since I had High Sierra installed prior to my upgrade, my installed programs were mostly 64-bit which is a must for the Catalina upgrade. My main reason for updating was getting Xcode 11.2.1 installed which required macOS Catalina.

  18. arnaud smith says:

    i’m french, sorry in advance for my english !!! i installed catalina 10.15.1 on my MacPro 3.1 with the last dosdue1 patch and it works like a charm ! with a flashed AMD R9 270X graphic cards,. I mount the os on a NVME samsung SM951 256gb with 16g RAM. opencl score 26911 , metal score 25385 on geekbench 5. I m just trying to fix the pci line bloqued on 8X and 2.5 GT/s

    • Stevie says:

      Hi Arnaud,

      You are a lucky man, I have a MacPro 3.1 and I wanted those that you but the Post-Install Patches, after detecting the Mac tyoe automatically, starts a message: An Error occured while appliying patches(1), after the Apply the wheel moves (left lower corner) Rebuilding Caches continuosly until hours…I have no idea resolving this.

  19. Sheun says:

    It works great, but I can’t access recovery mode, any idea how I can get it working?

  20. Andrey says:

    Mac mini 2011. i5 8GB RAM. 500GB hard drive. Can’rt start install of Catalina. I’m getting:
    “an error occurred while preparing the installation macos catalina. Please run application again.”
    Dis anybody see this error? Any ideas? I made USB 3 times. HighSierra is updated no updates left.

  21. Nazmul Bhuiyan says:

    I can’t even burn the package on the USB, it gives and error at the end saying the format of the media is not right, but that can’t be the case as I formatted it with GUID scheme, Journaled.
    please help I have an iMac (late 2009) I want to install it on.

  22. Roger Scott says:

    Just I talked Catalina on 2010 Mac book pro 6,2. Runs absolutely fine. Had 512gb ssd and 8gb ram so is a good spec for this model.
    Chuffed to bits!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Eceiah says:

      Hello Roger,

      Ive tried this way of installing mojave on my Macbook Pro 8,1 but cant get pass installation.

      “OS X could not be installed on your computer.

      No packages were eligible for install”

    • wolf says:

      Hi Roger,
      how do the apps photo and maps work? Are you using continuity tool? Does it work?

      I’m thinking of upgrading my MacBook Pro 6,2 to Catalina.

      I’ve read there are problems with usb-drives using exfat, that there are problems by switching from MacOs to Win with bootcamp.
      Sorry for my bad English.

    • David Esposito says:

      Hello Roger

      I have a 2011 MacBook Pro 8,1 upgraded with 16gb of ram, a new battery, and a ssd.
      I can not get this installed, Ive followed all steps and it just doesn’t install. It says i dont have a valid copy of macOS on the ssd, any ideas?

  23. Markus says:

    Hi all
    Updated my MBA 2011 and the iMac 2009. Both with SSD Harddisk are running with the newesr version of the patcher better than before. Thanks

  24. zanco says:

    macbook white 5.2 santa rosa work very well with Catalina OS. Just the trackpad don’t work the double tap (need external mouse to use right button)

  25. John B says:

    I don’t even want to run Catalina on my 2017 MacBook pro. Why would anyone put this buggy version that can’t even run 32-bit software on anything old where you could have use for compatibility? No thanks, My 2009 MacBook will keep its High Sierra

  26. Brook says:

    Works fine on my late 2008 MacBook unibody.
    I see no downside at all.

  27. Kland says:

    Yet another reason to stick with PC

  28. Chris Ward says:

    Thank you. Helpful. Does anyone know why Sidecar is chip specific?

  29. Josh says:

    Im running a top spec mid2010 MPB (2.66 i7, 8GB RAM, 512 GT330M & SSD) – and have been battling with  for over a year to resolve an issue with my icloud doc syncing as it stopped around the time 10.14 came out.
    I decided to try this on a second drive for fun and not only was the install faultless, it also resolved the issue  couldn’t seem to fix for over a year… FLM
    Performance at the moment is a tad slow, but as it is carrying out all the sync and app downloads its only to be expected – But so far very happy.
    Will post an update later on if anyone is interested

    • Josh says:

      So after letting the machine collect its thoughts overnight, it seems to run fine speed wise, temp wise its running warm – but its been running warm lately even on older versions of OS.
      Safari appears to run better on this version as on 10.12 &10.13 when scrolling down on some webpages it would stutter and stop – not anymore.
      Only issue I’m having is I’m getting an ‘authentication error (0)’ when signing into podcasts and Music apps.
      If anyone has a fix for that would be great.

      • wolf says:

        Hi Josh,
        how do the apps photo and maps work?
        I’m thinking of upgrading my mac to Catalina. My mac is mid 2010, too.
        I’ve read there are problems with usb-drives using exfat, that there are problems by switching from MacOs to Win with bootcamp.
        Sorry for my bad English.

  30. L.Dixon says:

    Testing 10.15 on an old mechanical HDD linked to a 2016 MBPro. It is SO slow. Don’t think I’ll bother patching my iMac 8.1 which is already struggling with 10.13. 👴🏻

  31. BuffyzDead says:

    Using Dosdude1’s patches,
    &
    For the record, an SSD Hard Drive Should be installed in any of these machines with 8GB RAM …then they work perfectly fine. The Air and iMac 27 below came with SSD’s. The other’s were upgraded.

    I have the following configurations using the patcher.

    Catalina on (3) Late 2009 Mac mini’s, buttery smoothly.

    Catalina on (1) Late 2009 iMac, buttery smoothly.

    Catalina on (1) 2011 MacBook Air 13″, buttery smoothly. Only 4GB’s but works buttery smoothly.

    Catalina on (1) 2008 iMac 24″, internet, mail photo’s, and all default apps work fine, but only 4GB ram so it can be a tad slow. 8GB’s might be better

    Catalina on (1) Late 2012 iMac 27″, buttery smoothly (officially supported machine)

  32. ASentientBot says:

    As one of the people involved in this project, I’d suggest mentioning our MacRumors thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/macos-10-15-catalina-on-unsupported-macs.2183772/ (which has a Discord server linked on the first page) so that users can get support if something breaks (which it will).

    It’s cool to see us mentioned here, thanks for the shoutout! I’ll send this link to dosdude1 himself as well.

  33. Armand Welsh says:

    I upgraded my 2012 Mac Mini and it would lock up every night. Since the most recent patch to fix a metal issue, the system has been rock solid, and even things that are reported as not working in Catalina on my model, work perfectly.

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