Installing Windows on a Mac is easy, but did you know you can install macOS on a PC? It’s not a project for those who don’t like to get hands-on with hardware, but with the right combination of components and effort, it is possible.
So let’s take a look at how it’s done.
Before You Begin
Back in the day (June 2010, to be precise), this tutorial explained how to install (what was then) Mac OS X on a Windows PC without the need for a Mac. This is no longer possible with modern versions of macOS.
I powered on my old netbook (gonna trade it in or e-recycle it), and I almost forgot I made it into a Hackintosh. pic.twitter.com/P2NMfnaqVu
— Corbin Davenport (@corbindavenport) July 9, 2017
Apple strictly forbids the use of macOS on any machines other than its own, whether it’s a modified version or not. You should be aware that by doing this, you’re violating the terms of the macOS license agreement, and that you do so at your own risk.
If you have an older PC, you’ll be pleased to know you can install every version of macOS (or OS X) from 10.7.5 Lion right up to 10.12 Sierra. Whether or not your older machine will be compatible is another story entirely.
It's official, updating my hackintosh/getting it to work is officially the most frustrating thing I've ever done…
— Alex Walling (@AlexWalling) July 10, 2017
It’s worth reiterating that installing macOS on a non-Apple computer is hard work. You may encounter hardware problems, card readers and Wi-Fi might not work, and you’ll need to go the extra mile if you want to use features like iMessage or audio-over-HDMI.
Things You’ll Need
To install the latest version of macOS on your PC, you will need:
- a PC with compatible hardware
- a Mac running the latest version of macOS
- the macOS Sierra installer
- free apps UniBeast and MultiBeast
- an 8GB or larger USB drive
Don’t worry if you’re unsure about anything on the list, we’ll explain these requirements in the steps below. If you haven’t got a Mac, ask to borrow a friend’s for a few minutes (you won’t need it for long, though make sure you get the root admin password).
1. Ensure Your PC is Compatible
The best way to ensure compatibility is to build your machine to specification. By doing this you’ll be using hardware that’s the same or very similar to what Apple puts in its own machines. You’ll be able to build a high powered machine for a fraction of the cost of a new Mac.
Alternatively, you may want to install macOS on a laptop or PC that you already have lying around. This route is harder, you might have to work around issues that arise, or you may have incompatible hardware.
— WS (@shortwill) June 30, 2017
- OSx86 Project — a well-maintained resource for hardware components and pre-built laptops and desktops that play nicely with macOS.
- tonymacx86 Buyer’s Guide — a constantly-updated “shopping list” for building macOS compatible computers in a variety of form factors.
- Online forums — check out r/Hackintosh, InsanelyMac, and Hackintosh Zone if you want to ask questions or search for builds similar to your own.
2. Download Your Software
Once you’re confident your machine is compatible, grab your Mac and launch the Mac App Store. Search for the latest version of macOS and hit Download. The file is around 4.7GB in size, and once downloaded appears as Install macOS Sierra in your Applications folder. Leave it there for now.
Next head to tonymacx86.com and register an account, which will grant you access to the downloads page. From here you should download the latest version of UniBeast. At the time of writing version 7.0 is designed purely for Sierra, while previous versions work with earlier editions of the OS.
You should also download the version of MultiBeast that corresponds with your macOS version. For macOS Sierra, this is version 9.0. You can unzip it and leave it in your Downloads folder for now, we’ll need it later.
UniBeast is a tool for installing any legally downloaded version of macOS from the Mac App Store on compatible hardware. It can also be used as a Mac (or hackintosh) system recovery tool in a pinch. Extract UniBeast and install it as you would any other software by dragging it to your Applications folder.
3. Create Your USB Installer
Insert the USB drive you’ll be using into your Mac and launch your Mac’s in-built Disk Utility application. Everything on the drive — including the partition itself — will be removed so make sure your data is safe before proceeding. When you’re ready, select your USB device in the list on the left and click Erase.
Give it a name and choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) under “Format” and GUID Parition Map under “Scheme” then click Erase. Your USB device is now ready to become a bootable macOS installation drive.
Launch UniBeast and follow the prompts — you’ll have to click Continue about four times, then Agree with the software license agreement (above). When you’re prompted for an install destination, select the USB drive you erased with Disk Utility (below).
The installer will now prompt to choose the version of macOS you downloaded from the Mac App Store earlier (below). For this to work the Mac App Store download needs to have finished and the Install macOS Sierra file should stay in your Applications folder.
Next you’ll need to choose Bootloader Options (below). According to the UniBeast documentation, choose UEFI Boot Mode for UEFI-capable systems (most modern hardware) or Legacy Boot Mode for older machines that still use BIOS (unsure which you need?).
The penultimate step is to choose a graphics card manufacturer if you’re using an older card (this step is optional). You can then click Continue, make sure your settings are correct, enter your admin password, and UniBeast will write the macOS installer to the drive.
Wait for the image to be written to the USB drive. The last thing you need to do is to copy MultiBeast to the root directory of your USB drive.
4. Install macOS on Your PC
Now you’re ready to begin installing macOS on your PC. Turn on your PC and press and hold the Delete (or equivalent) key to bring up your UEFI or BIOS settings. This is where things get a little tricky — the official UniBeast documentation recommends the following:
- Set BIOS/UEFI to Optimized Defaults
- Disable your CPU’s VT-d, if supported
- Disable CFG-Lock, if supported
- Disable Secure Boot Mode, if supported
- Disable IO SerialPort, if present
- Enable XHCI Handoff
- Disable USB 3.0
UEFI/BIOS settings are a common cause for issues when trying to install macOS. You’ll probably need to hit the forums if you experience issues here, as each manufacturer does things a little differently. Save and exit once you’ve configured your BIOS/UEFI, then power the machine off.
Insert the USB installer we created earlier into your PC, preferably into a USB 2.0 port. Power on your PC and while it boots press the boot device keyboard shortcut — probably F12 or F8. When prompted, choose your USB drive, then on the Clover boot screen select Boot Mac OS X from USB.
The installer will now launch, and you’ll first need to select a Language. As you’ll be installing macOS from scratch, you need to prepare the installation volume. Click on Utilities at the top of the screen and open Disk Utility.
Choose your target destination for macOS, then click on the Erase button. Give it a name (e.g Hackintosh), choose OS X Extended (Journaled) under “Format” and GUID Parition Map under “Scheme” then click Erase. You can now continue with the installer, making sure you choose this disk when prompted for an installation location.
— nick.js (@npsmith90) July 9, 2017
Assuming it all goes to plan, you should be able to see the installer through to the end at which point your Mac will restart.
5. Finishing Touches
Now you’ll need to make your Mac install partition bootable, so you’re not depending on the USB bootloader. Restart your machine and hold down the boot device select key (probably F12 or F8), then boot from your USB device as you did last time.
At the Clover boot screen, select your installation volume (e.g. Hackintosh) and follow the instructions to finalize the macOS installation. When you eventually boot into macOS, navigate to your USB installer and run the MultiBeast app.
For fresh installs, click on Quick Start and choose between UEFI Boot Mode or Legacy Boot Mode (for older hardware), then select relevant audio and network options on the Drivers tab. You can see even more options under Customize before saving or printing your chosen configuration.
Now hit Build then Install. If you’re using unsupported NVIDIA hardware, now is the time to grab the relevant drivers and install them.
The final step is to restart your Hackintosh and remove your USB drive, as your macOS installation partition should boot automatically from now on.
Now the Fun Begins
There are so many things that could go wrong with this process. It’s unlikely you’ll make it all the way without a small snag or larger setback, and at the end of it all you’ll still need to fiddle with things to get some features working the way you’d like.
If things aren’t quite working for you, hit up the relevant forums for advice tailored to your predicament. You can also try the comments below.
Have you ever built a Hackintosh? Did it go well? Was it worth it?