How to Install macOS Sonoma on Unsupported Macs - 8 Steps

Kelly Wu
Last updated: Jun 12, 2024

Wondering if it's possible to install macOS Sonoma on an older, unsupported Mac? You have come to the right place. In this article, we'll introduce you to a great tool and show you how to use it to install macOS Sonoma on an unsupported Mac.

If your Mac is running slow or you're eager to experience the new features of macOS Sonoma, upgrading is the best option. However, macOS Sonoma no longer supports some Mac models. If your Mac isn't on the supported list, explore this guide to learn how to install macOS Sonoma on an unsupported Mac.

Let's dive in!

8 Steps to Install macOS Sonoma on an Unsupported Mac

What Macs Are Compatible with macOS Sonoma?

Here is a list of Macs that are compatible with macOS Sonoma.

  • iMac (2019 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2018 and later)
  • Mac Mini (2018 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 and later)
  • Mac Studio (2022 and later)

Check out this list for specific models. If, unfortunately, your Mac is not on the list of supported models but you still wish to install macOS Sonoma on it, you will need to use the OpenCore Legacy Patcher.

Read on to learn more.

What Is OpenCore Legacy Patcher?

OpenCore Legacy Patcher, often abbreviated as OCLP, is an advanced bootloader that injects and patches data in memory rather than on disk. It enables you to install the macOS of your choice, such as macOS Sonoma, Ventura, or Monterey, on older Macs that are no longer officially supported.

OCLP's Supported Mac and macOS Versions

Basically, any hardware that supports SSE4.1 CPU and 64-bit firmware will work with this patcher. To check if your hardware is compatible, run the command below in Terminal.

system_profiler SPHardwareDataType | grep 'Model Identifier'

Alternatively, you can refer to this article for all supported Mac models.

In terms of supported macOS versions, OpenCore Legacy Patcher currently includes coverage for macOS versions from Big Sur 11.x to Sonoma.

Tip
Unfortunately, there is no official announcement that OpenCore Legacy Patcher supports the latest macOS Sequoia beta. We will keep an eye on it.

How to Install macOS Sonoma on an Unsupported Mac Using OCLP

Now that you've confirmed that your Mac is supported, let's see how to install macOS Sonoma on your Mac using OCLP.

Step #1. Create a Backup for Your Mac

This step is very important because unexpected errors may occur during the upgrade process. So be sure to back up your Mac with Time Machine or iCloud.

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Step #2. Prepare a USB Drive

Before downloading the macOS installer, you need to prepare a USB drive. To ensure that the subsequent installer creation and installation process goes smoothly, make sure the following:

  • USB drive capacity: at least 16GB.
  • Back up the file in the USB drive. (Your drive will be formatted in a later step.)

Step #3. Download the OpenCore-Patcher App

Now, let's download the OpenCore-Patcher app. Make sure to download the latest version.

  1. Go to Github.
  2. Download the OpenCore-Patcher-GUI.app.zip file.
  3. Unzip OpenCore-Patcher-GUI.app.zip, find OpenCore-Patcher, and open it.
OpenCore Patcher Main Menu

Step #4. Create the macOS Sonoma Installer

Follow the steps below to create your macOS Sonoma installer.

  1. Click Create macOS Installer.
  2. Click Download macOS Installer, wait for a few seconds, select the installer you want, and click the Download button.
    Downoad macOS Sonoma Installer via OpenCore
  3. Wait for the download process to complete. The installer is about 13 GB, so this process may take some time.
  4. Enter your username and password to install macOS Sonoma.
  5. When finished, click Flash Installer.
  6. Select the macOS Sonoma installer you downloaded.
  7. Select your USB drive. (Make sure you have the USB drive plugged into your Mac.)
  8. The patcher will start the installer flashing.
  9. Wait for the success prompt to appear.

Step #5. Build and Install OpenCore

Now it's time to build the OpenCore configuration on your drive.

  1. Click Build and Install OpenCore.
  2. After the build is complete, click Install OpenCore.
  3. Select the USB drive you inserted, then select the partition where you want to install OpenCore.
    Install OpenCore
  4. Wait for the installation process to complete.

Step #6. Boot OpenCore and Install macOS

After installing OpenCore, you can boot it according to the prompt.

  1. Hold down the Option key while restarting your Mac.
  2. When you see the following screen, click the EFI Boot entry with the OpenCore icon.
    Boot with OpenCore
  3. Select Install macOS Sonoma and your Mac will reboot from your USB drive.
  4. When you see the macOS Utilities window, click Install macOS Sonoma.
    Install macOS Sonoma
  5. Click Continue, select the disk on which to install macOS Sonoma, and click Continue.
  6. When the installation is complete, your Mac will restart.

Step #7. Boot Your Mac without USB Drive

If you want to boot your Mac without using the USB drive, here's what you need to do:

  1. Launch OpenCore Patcher on your Mac.
  2. Click Build and Install OpenCore and select your internal drive.
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to build Open Core on your internal drive, then restart your Mac.

The next time you start up your Mac, the USB drive is no longer needed.

Step #8. Apply Post-Install Root Patches (Optional)

If your Mac isn't working properly, it means you need to apply a post-install root patch. Here's how:

  1. Open the OpenCore-Patch app.
  2. Click Post Install Root Patch.
  3. If a system patch is available, click Start Root Patching.
    Apply Post-Install Root Patches
  4. When finished, reboot as root and enter your username and password.
  5. When your Mac restarts, you can use and update your Mac freely.

The Bottom Line

After following the steps mentioned above, we hope that you have successfully installed macOS Sonoma on your Mac. It's worth noting that upgrading to a new macOS version can potentially cause data loss. Therefore, we strongly advise that you backup your Mac before proceeding with the upgrade.

FAQs

  1. Can I Update My Mac After Installing macOS Sonoma?

    Yes, you can update and upgrade your macOS as usual, provided that the OpenCore Legacy Patcher supports the new macOS.

  2. What To Do if My Mac Isn't Working Properly?

    If your Mac is running slowly, or the spinning wheel keeps appearing, first check if your Mac is being heavily used. If not, check OpenCore Legacy Patcher for system patches. To do so, open OpenCore Legacy Patcher, click Post Install Root Patch > Start Root Patching, and follow the instructions to install the patch and restart your Mac. After restarting, if prompted by OpenCore Legacy Patcher, follow the prompts to repair your Mac. Once completed, your Mac should return to normal.

  3. How Can I Avoid Problems with My Mac?

    If you want to avoid problems with your Mac, we recommend that you go to System Settings > General > Software Update and disable the Automatic Updates option.

Living in Chengdu, Kelly is an Apple technician focused on Mac, iPhone, and iOS repairs. Meanwhile, he's also a columnist at Dr.Buho, with a simple mission to help fix Apple things that are with software or hardware glitches.