Trick: Get macOS Big Sur to work on older Macs

Reddit has brought together numerous users who want to install Big Sur on an old Mac. Apple states that macOS Big Sur can only be installed on these devices:

  • MacBook: early 2015 or later
  • MacBook Air: Mid 2013 or later
  • MacBook Pro: Late 2013 or later
  • Mac mini: late 2014 or later
  • iMac: end of 2014 or later
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro late 2013 or later

But that’s not entirely true, as numerous submissions and videos on Reddit show. There are also installation instructions, of which we picked one.

The operating system runs with a small installation trick even on older Macs. All you need is a slightly larger USB stick, which should offer at least 16 GB of storage space.

The Parrotgeek website has figured out how to install macOS Big Sur on older Macs and what the drawbacks are.

You can unofficially install Big Sur on these Macs

  • MacBook Air (11-inch, mid-2012)
  • MacBook Air (13-inch, mid-2012)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, mid-2012)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, mid-2012)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, mid-2012)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, early 2013)
  • Mac mini (End 2012)
  • Mac mini (Ende 2012) Quad-Core
  • iMac (21.5-inch, late 2012)
  • iMac (27-inch, late 2012)
  • iMac (21.5-inch, late 2013) integrated GPU
  • iMac (27-inch, late 2013)
  • iMac (21.5-inch, late 2013) discrete GPU
  • Mac Pro (mid 2010 / mid 2012)

The built-in WLAN does not work for Macbooks and Mac Minis, but operation is possible via Ethernet.

Preparing for installation

Back up the Mac on which you want to install Big Sur. If the installation fails, it can result in a complete data loss! We accept no liability for damage.

In addition to the USB stick with at least 16 GB, the macOS Big Sur installation package from Apple is required, which you can download for free and completely legally. In addition, a tool from the Reddit commentator ASentientBot is required, which Parrotgeek has modified. It is used to get the installer to boot. This tool is also available free of charge.

The installation

We tried Parrotgeek’s instructions and lo and behold – it works. The installation package is opened on a Mac and thus extracted. The USB stick must be formatted with “macOS Extended (Journaled)”, whereby the “GUID Partition Map” scheme is required. This can be found under “View / All devices”.

Enter the command sudo / Applications / Install macOS –volume in the terminal and put a space behind it, now drag the icon from the USB stick into the terminal window to insert the path and press Enter . The admin password and the user’s consent are then required.

The tool listed above is saved in a ZIP file. This must be unpacked in a separate directory. The script is included in the zip file.

And so it continues

Enter xattr -c in the terminal, followed by a space. Now drag the into the terminal window and press Enter.

Now drag into the terminal again and then also drag the icon for the new installer partition from the stick that was just created into the terminal and press Enter. Wait a bit and then disconnect the flash drive and insert it into the target Mac. Restart the target Mac while holding down the Option key to boot from the stick and install macOS Big Sur. Finished.

Did the installation work for you? Have you had any problems? Or do you not have such an old Mac and don’t want to try beta software? Write to us about your experiences.

9 thoughts on “Trick: Get macOS Big Sur to work on older Macs”

    • I believe that as long as the device is larger than 16GB in capacity and is formatted as ‘macOS Extended (Journaled)’ it should work.

  1. iMac 27 late 2013 w/3.5 i7 and 32GB RAM – I also would like to know what issues, if any, to expect. Anyone?
    Thank you in advance!


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