Install macOS Monterey on unsupported models

macOS Monterey was released a few days ago. Just as with most new releases of macOS, also for macOS Monterey, Apple decided to remove official support for some of the older Mac hardware. In general anything older than a 2015 model is no longer supported. This doesn’t necessarily mean that those Mac models cannot handle the new operation system, in most cases it would run it just fine. Luckily, if you want to, there are always ways to get around these restrictions. In this article, I will describe step by step how to install macOS Monterey on officially unsupported models by using OpenCore Legacy Patcher.

YouTube Video

If you are interested, I also created a YouTube video from this blogpost. If you prefer classic text, you can just follow the rest of this article:

Introduction

In an earlier post, I described how to install the predecessor of Monterey, Big Sur, on unsupported models. I used MicroPatcher for that article and mentioned BigMac there as well. For this article, I will go for a different method and I will use OpenCore Legacy Patcher to get around the hardware checks.

In contrast to MicroPatcher, this method uses an unmodified macOS installer. Instead, it tricks the installer in thinking it is running on a newer, supported, model.

Supported models

You can find a comprehensive list of models on which OpenCore is supported over here: https://dortania.github.io/OpenCore-Legacy-Patcher/MODELS.html

The minimum OS version installed needs to be 10.9 (Mavericks)

For hardware without Metal support, using a patch, the following should work:

  • MacBook5,1 (Late 2008) and later
  • MacBookAir2,1 (Late 2018) and later
  • MacBookPro4,1 (Early 2008) and later
  • Macmini3,1 (Early 2009) and later
  • iMac8,1 (Early 2008) and later
  • MacPro3,1 (Early 2008) and later

With Metal support, everything newer than the following is fine:

  • MacBook8,1 (Mid-2015) and later
  • MacbookAir6,1 (Mid-2012) and later
  • MacBookPro9,1 (Mid-2012) and later
  • Macmini6,1 (Late 2012) and later
  • iMac13,1 (Late 2012) and later
  • MacPro4,1 (Early 2009) and later (with Metal GPU)

Overview of the process

For the article, I will be using a Late 2013 iMac with model identifier iMac14,2. My model has the highest specced CPU: an i7 4771, a 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4 GB. This is interesting as support for NVIDIA GPUs has been mainly removed in Monterey. It was running macOS Catalina as a starting point, which is the last officially supported release on this model.

The steps we need to go through are the following. These need to be executed on the device where you would like to install Monterey.

  1. Download the Install macOS Monterey app without using the App Store
  2. Create a bootable USB drive for macOS Monterey
  3. Build and install OpenCore on the USB drive
  4. Boot from the USB drive and install macOS Monterey
  5. Install OpenCore on the SSD/hard drive
  6. Optionally install patches (mainly for non-Metal or non-supported GPUs like my NVIDIA card)

Step 1) Download the Install macOS Monterey app without using the App Store

The first step in this whole process, is to get our hands on the installer. As the device which we want to get Monterey on is officially not supported, the installer for Monterey will not be shown in the App Store on this device. So we need to find another way to get our hands on InstallAssistant.pkg for Monterey.

Mr. Macintosh keeps a list with versions and links to directly download the InstallAssistant.pkg file. You can find this here: https://mrmacintosh.com/macos-12-monterey-full-installer-database-download-directly-from-apple/:

At the time of writing, the latest and release version was 12.0.1 (build 21A559) and I used the following link to download the package from Apple: https://swcdn.apple.com/content/downloads/39/60/002-23774-A_KNETE2LDIN/4ll6ahj3st7jhqfzzjt1bjp1nhwl4p4zx7/InstallAssistant.pkg

Once you have downloaded the .pkg, you can double-click on it and run through the dialogs to install “Install macOS Monterey” to your Applications folder:

In case you would encounter issues due to any hardware checks (I did not experience any on my iMac), you can also manually extract the .app from the .pkg and move the .app to your Applications folder. You can use the following command in terminal for that.

jensd@jensds-iMac ~ % cd Downloads
jensd@jensds-iMac Downloads % pkgutil --expand-full InstallAssistant.pkg monterey/
jensd@jensds-iMac Downloads % mv monterey/Payload/Applications/Install\ macOS\ Monterey.app /Applications/

If this went well, you should now have the Install macOS Monterey application in your Applications folder. This is what we need for the next step:

Running this just like on an unsupported model, like mine, won’t work as you will get a “The update cannot be installed on this computer” during the installation:

Step 2) Create a bootable USB drive for macOS Monterey

Now that we have the installer downloaded and ready, we will use it in this step to create a bootable Monterey installation USB.

First we need to prepare the USB drive to make sure we can boot from it and patch it with OpenCore in the next steps. To do so, insert the USB drive and open Disk Utility. In Disk Utility, click to show All devices:

Then, in the left column, select your USB drive and click Erase on the top menu. Now give the drive a name, I chose 32GBUSB, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and GUID Partition Map as scheme and click Erase:

When this is done, we can use the installer to prepare the USB and get files on it. Open a terminal window and execute the following command:

jensd@jensds-iMac ~ % sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Monterey.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/32GBUSB
Password:
Ready to start.
To continue we need to erase the volume at /Volumes/32GBUSB.
If you wish to continue type (Y) then press return: y
Erasing disk: 0%... 10%... 20%... 30%... 100%
Making disk bootable...
Copying to disk: 0%... 10%... 20%... 30%... 40%... 50%... 60%... 70%... 80%... 90%... 100%
Install media now available at "/Volumes/Install macOS Monterey"

This can take some time, depending on the speed of your USB drive. In case you called your drive different when erasing it within Disk Utility, you will need to adapt this in the command here.

At this point, we have a standard bootable USB drive for installing Monterey. This one could be actually be used now to install Monterey on supported hardware.

Step 3) Build and install OpenCore on the USB drive

From here we start with the steps that are needed to overcome the fact that our hardware is no longer officially supported. We will use OpenCore Legacy Patcher for that.

OpenCore is a bootloader that is often used for Hacintosh builds but it runs on real Apple hardware just fine as well. OpenCore patches or changes some data in memory, making the software think it is running on newer hardware and by this bypasses any restriction.

To start with this, we first need to download the latest version, which can be found here: https://github.com/dortania/Opencore-Legacy-Patcher/releases

As you can see, there is a graphical version (OpenCore-Patcher-GUI.app.zip), an offline text-based version (OpenCore-Patcher-TUI-Offline.app.zip) and a text version (OpenCore-Patcher-TUI-Offline.zip). That last one, the regular text version, will do just fine.

After downloading OpenCore-Patcher-TUI.app.zip, extract it by clicking on it in Finder and open the application. You should see a terminal window now with several options:

We need to start with option 1) Build OpenCore:

This shouldn’t take very long. As you can see in the output, this has built OpenCore specifically for the Mac model which we are working on (iMac14,2 in my case).

Press Enter to go back to the main menu and now choose option 2) Install OpenCore. After entering this option, select your USB drive from the list (disk3 in my case):

In the next screen, select the only EFI partition which exists on that drive:

This will install the OpenCore bootloader to the EFI partition on the USB drive. In a later stage, we will repeat this process but for the internal drive in our Mac.

Step 4) Boot from the USB drive and install macOS Monterey

Boot OpenCore and launch the installation

The USB drive is fully prepared in the previous three steps. Now it is time to boot the Mac from the USB drive in order to install Monterey. To do so, reboot your Mac and hold down the Option key during boot time.

Holding down the Option key brings up the bootloader. In there, you should see the currently installed system (named Catalina in my case), an entry to install Monterey and an EFI boot entry with the OpenCore logo. The last two are on our USB drive.

From here, the standard bootloader, we can’t start the installation as we need to do this from OpenCore to hide the real system identifier. Instead, select the EFI boot entry using the arrow keys and press enter:

This brings you in OpenCore, which looks very similar to the standard bootloader. THe only difference is the text at the right bottom corner. From here you can now choose the “Install macOS Monterey” option:

This will launch the installer from the USB drive, which can take some time. Once you arrived in the installer, you should see something like this:

Prepare your internal SSD/HD for the installation

At this point we need to decided where we will install Monterey:

  1. Fresh install: remove the existing installed system, and give the full drive to Monterey
  2. Dual boot: add a new Volume and resize the existing one(s) to keep your current macOS and add Monterey
  3. Upgrade: upgrade your existing installation

For the first two, we need to launch Disk Utility first from the menu as we need to prepare our drive. In Disk Utility, first click on the button to show All devices:

For option 1, to go for a single OS and do a fresh install of Monterey, click your drive (internal SSD/HD) on the left side and click Erase. Give your drive a name (I chose Monterey), choose APFS as Format and GUID as scheme:

For option 2, to add Monterey together with your current macOS install, click your drive (internal SSD/HD) on the left side and click Partition. Click the plus sign here to add a partition and choose to add a partition rather than a volume.

You can change the size on the left side, name the volume (I chose Monterey) and choose APFS as format:

As soon as Disk Utility is ready with the operations on the drive, we are good to move to the next step.

Install Monterey

Now that our disk is prepare, or you decided to upgrade the existing install, you can start the installation from the menu:

Click Continue, accept the license agreement and select the volume on which you want to install Monterey. Here you need to select:

  1. Fresh install: the only internal volume you see here (called Monterey in my example)
  2. Dual boot: the volume which you added during the partition part (called Monterey in my example)
  3. Upgrade: select the volume which you want to upgrade (called Catalina in my case)

From here on, you can relax and sit back as the installation can take quite some time. If all goes well, you should see the following screen after a series of reboots:

Navigate through the questions, which differ depending on which type of install you decided to go for. You can notice in some cases that everything is pretty slow. This is due to the lack of video card drivers or Metal support. which we will fix in step 6.

If all goes well, you should end up on the desktop of your newly installed macOS Monterey system:

Step 5) Install OpenCore on the SSD/hard drive

So far we have successfully installed Monterey on our Mac. But to start it, we still need to boot from the USB drive as that is where OpenCore is currently installed. In order to fix this, we need to install OpenCore to the internal HD/SSD instead.

This goes in the same way as we did in step 3) for the USB drive. We first need to download the latest version of the OpenCore Legacy Patcher, which can still be found here: https://github.com/dortania/Opencore-Legacy-Patcher/releases

Again, download OpenCore-Patcher-TUI.app.zip, extract it by clicking on it in Finder and open the application. In the terminal window, we again need to start with option 1) Build OpenCore:

Once complete, go back to the main menu and now choose option 2) Install OpenCore. Here we now need to select our internal drive (SSD or HD) instead of the USB drive:

In the next step, select the EFI partition on it:

Just as in step 3, this will install the OpenCore bootloader to the EFI partition, allowing the official bootloader to boot from it:

At this point it is safe to eject and remove your USB drive. In case you have a fully supported (AMD-based) graphical card, you should be done here and you can do a reboot to test if everything still works.

In some cases it might be needed to boot holding the Option key, then select OpenCore.

Step 6) Optionally install patches

If the model of Mac which you are using doesn’t have a Metal-supported card or you are having one of the NVIDIA-based models where Apple decided to remove support for, you need to go through this additional step.

In this step, we will install some patches ion the system that will either add graphics acceleration for non-Metal card or fix the driver issues for others.

Re-launch the downloaded OpenCore legacy patcher, which you downloaded in the previous step. Now choose for option 3) Post-Install Volume Patch:

Then select 1) Patch System Volume:

Depending on which patch is needed for your system, a selection will be made and applied after confirmation.

After going through this, perform a reboot and you should be done. In some cases it might be needed to boot holding the Option key, then select OpenCore.

Performance

As I wanted to check if there would be any performance impact after upgrading to Monterey, I did a Geekbench 5 test on my system while it was still on Catalina:

These were the results for my iMac while being on the last supported OS: Catalina:

And the same test after upgrading to Monterey:

Strange to see that the single core score is lower but the important one, Multi-Core, is slightly higher so definitely not worse.

In general the system feels very snappy and I don’t really notice any performance loss in comparison with Catalina.

Hope this post will help you to extend the life of your beloved Apple Mac :)

29 thoughts on “Install macOS Monterey on unsupported models

  1. Hi Jens!
    Thanks for your explanation. I’m thinking to do a Fresh install ( MacMini 6.1) in that case, I don’t really need a extra patch for graphics, isn’t it ?
    I understand that With Metal support, everything newer than the following is fine – includes mine (MacMini6.1) at this moment it’s Capitan installed.
    So, can you confirm me please? For be sure.
    After that, any update of Monterey will work? or it’s better OFF updates?
    Thanks for your time

    • I think a patch is also needed for the Intel HD graphics in your Mac Mini, which should be HD 4000 (Ivy Bridge).
      It works in the same way to apply them. Updates should be fine but maybe better to wait a few days after they get released to see if it won’t cause issues.

      • Thanks Jensd!
        I’m Capitan right now… I’ll do a fresh install of Catalina because I saw that have a new format (not Mac OS register) and then go forward a new fresh install of Monterey. It’s the best option? or I have to install first Big sur?…
        I mean … Catalina, then Big sur .. and later Monterey.

        • For a fresh install, you can just go immediately for Monterey. No need to do this for each version.

  2. when i opened the opencore again to install it on the internal hard drive it gave me error about /var/ path of folder that it’s not exist, can you tell em why that happened plz?

  3. Hello Jens,

    Thanks so much for the effort for this excellent step-by-step guide, its completely clear and easy to follow. I have all the tools mentioned in the guide but I have not yet proceed to install anything on my MA mid 2013 (currently with Catalina) as I have some questions:

    1. I plan to have install Monterey on a 128 GB USB drive which I have currently partitioned it to allocate both the installer, and the OS, so, if I follow the procedure, will this allow me to chose the specific partition in my USB drive? (That is, Step 5) Install OpenCore on the SSD/hard drive). I don’t want to neither update nor make a clean install it as I want to test this new MacOS first.
    2. After installing OpenCore in my USB flash drive, can I undone the installation if I format the drive or it will be permanently be modified?
    3. After installing the new OS, what about the needed security and regular Apple software updates? For what I read in other forums, no OTA will be possible using this method on unsupported macs; I guess I could download them manually. Can you confirm please?

    Kind regards

    JM

    • 1) Should work in theory but I didn’t try that yet
      2) After formatting/erasing the drive, all will be back to normal. The patcher just changes files in the EFI partition.
      3) Updates should be coming in but it might be good to wait a few days to accept them and see if others got them tested first.

  4. Pingback: Install macOS Monterey on unsupported models - DZTECHNO

      • I have the same issue with adi.
        I followed the steps until step 4th
        the situation are:
        1. Install completed, but MacBook Pro cannot enter the login screen
        2. I can hear the “Voice over” instructions, but the screen also in the boot process.
        3. I can follow the “Voice over” to set up whole OOBE settings and enter to the desktop while the screen still in the boot process. like fullscreen snapshot cover the real desktop.
        4. Every keyboard and mouse event are executed well

        I think the hole process is perfect but at the end of it, I just cannot enter the desktop. What should I do.
        Thanks
        My MacBook Pro is A1398 15′,1TB, 16GB, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5

        • Not sure what is happening. You have nothing on the screen? Or there is something over it?
          Was this a fresh install or upgrade?

          • Yes, It’s a fresh install.
            There is a Apple icon and a process bar running about 20% on the screen when I hear the “voice over” instructions.
            And process bar is freeze while I finish whole OOBE settings.

            Any suggestions?
            THANKS Jensd

    • I have same MacBook Pro as adi and mine hangs upon final boot screen with the apple logo. the install hangs just before the line gets to the apple logo and stops there. let it go for two days. have retired many time still the same out come have the intel iris pro 1536 MB video card

  5. I did everything on a macbook pro mid 2014 (11.1), it works ok and boots with the usb drive, no kernels needed. The only problem i’m getting is that i cannot boot without the usb drive. I tried to install open core to internal ssd by disabling first verbose and the picker but i get a blank screen followed by a question mark. When the usb drive is inserted works perfectly. What could it be? Should i disable filevault?

    • It could be that you will need to boot holding Option first, then manually select your internal drive.
      After you are in macOS, you can configure the startup device using the Startup Disk Utility.

  6. Hi,

    Thank you very much for that great manual to get my iMac10.1 Later 2009 running Monterey. That’s a great help to get the system up to date with all Apps able to preform update (especially MS-Office 365) too. Great stuff!

    I followed the instruction step by step without getting any surprises at all. The preparation and installation was running like shown in your video.

    But I have one remark:
    If you are running the update on some very outdated iMac like the 2009 Later model, please make sure to use the OFFLINE VERSION of OpenCoreLegacyPatcher (560MB file). This is a great help, because your WIFI-Adapter is not working anymore after for installation and first start of Monterey.

    To fix issue this with unsupported WiFi-Adapter, you have to install the Legacy Patch to get WIFI running again. If you just download ed the online version of OCLP (32MB), you are not able to perform the patch, because it demands an existing Internet connection.

    PS: a proper workaround is an Ethernet cable connection

    • Thanks for the tutorial..I did it on my MBP 2010 15inch..
      I have little problem..after fully install the monterey, the graphics are very laggy..
      NVidia GeForce GT 320M 256mb..

      What should I do ?

      • Did you install the patches after going through the installation?
        That should fix the graphics performance.

  7. How can I do this AND use “BOOTCAMP”? It says create 200mb partition so I tried. No luck. What now?

  8. How can I run macOS Monterey & BOOTCAMP? Also the recovery screen is still OS X. Even though I am on macOS Monterey. Why?

  9. Your video is very clear and is an excellent guidance.
    I am running Big Sur 11.6.1 on MBP 10,1 mid 2012 with 16 gb ram i7 chip and retina display.
    I want to upgrade to Monterey. and do a fresh install.
    Therefore my internal ssd will be erased. Question: do I lose all my data and progs in the process?

    • If you choose for a fresh install, all will be gone. That’s kind of the reason why one would want to do a fresh install.
      In case you want to keep what you have, you can upgrade or do a dual boot.

  10. Can i upgrade to this windows 11 on x32 windows 10 with x64 processor.
    In the Microsoft Website it is specified that it requires x64 processor not os.

    Kindly reply. I also left an like and subscribed your channel

    • As far as I know there is no upgrade path from a 32 bit Windows 10 to Windows 11. You can do a fresh install or dual boot though.

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