Kexts or kernel extensions extend the basic functions of the macOS Darwin kernel. They are analogous to Windows drivers and allow the kernel to communicate with your computer’s hardware. Most of the time, these files do not require maintenance. However, if you have problems, you may have to play with a kext or two. This article will walk you through how to Add and Remove Kexts from macOS.
Do Macs on Big Sur and Later Use Kexts?
Apple no longer recommends using kexts with your macOS device. To make matters worse, macOS Big Sur doesn’t even support some kexts; you can find a list of those here.
Where Are Kexts Found?
You can find kexts in two places on your Mac. Most are in the System/Library/Extensions directory, which is the main home for Kexts. Some can also be found in the /Library/Extensions folder, but this is less common.
You can recognize files by their .kext extension and plug-in style symbol.
How to Remove Kexts
There are two ways to remove kexts. The first is by using the Terminal command
1. Determine which kext to remove. Be absolutely sure you have the right thing to do. Removing a critical kext for your system can cause big problems, and kext names are often cryptic.
2. Open Terminal and enter the following command:
Make sure to change “kext.kext” to the name of your kext file. For example, if the kext you want to remove is named “AppleMobileDevice.kext,” the command would be:
3. After typing in your kext, press Enter, then type your administrator password and press Enter again.
If that fails to work, you can also just force-delete the kext using
1. Use the following Terminal command to remove the kext file:
Make sure to change “kext.kext” to the name of your kext file. For example, if the kext you want to remove is named AppleIntelE1000e.kext, the command would be:
2. Enter your admin password and press Enter.
3. Restart your computer.
How to Install Kexts Automatically
The steps to remove kexts below will only work if you are using a pre Big Sur Mac operating system and are using the KextBeast utility that was originally created for use with Hackintoshes.
1. Download KextBeast. If you do not already have a free account at tonymacx86.com, you will need to create one to download the file.
2. Move the kext file that you want to install to your desktop. The program will automatically work with all kext files in the ~/Desktop directory, so make sure you have the correct file.
3. Open KextBeast and click “Continue.”
4. Click “Continue” again.
5. Choose your system’s boot drive as the installation destination and click “Continue.”
6. Tick the box next to “/System/Library/Extensions” or “/Library/Extensions,” depending on where your kext needs to be installed. If you don’t know which one to pick, choose “/System/Library/Extensions.”
8. Click “Continue.”
9. Enter your administrator password and click “Install Software.”
10. Wait for the installation to finish and click “Close.”
11. Restart your computer.
How to Install Kexts Manually
However, if you are using an operating system older than Big Sur, Kexts can be installed manually. However, it is a more cumbersome process and your Mac really doesn’t like it when you install those kexts.
1. Drag and drop your kext file into “/System/Library/Extensions”.
2. Click “Authenticate.”
3. Enter your admin password.
4. Open Terminal and use the command
sudo kextload kext.kext to load your newly copied kext file. Make sure to replace “kext.kext” with the name of your kext file.
5. Enter your administrator password.
6. Restart your computer.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I access my Big Sur system extensions?
Go to “System Preferences -> Extensions” to find extensions installed on your device – both native and third party.
2. A system extension on my Mac is blocked. What should I do?
Go to “System Preferences> Security & Privacy> General”.
At the bottom right of the window, you should see a “Allow” button next to the message “Developer [developer name] system software has been blocked from loading.”
Click the padlock at the bottom left and enter your password, then tap the “Allow” button.
3. Are system extensions and kernel extensions the same?
System Extensions and Kernel Extensions were designed with the same end goal, but they work slightly differently. They both aim to make background tasks run smoothly on your Mac.
System extensions, however, do not work within the kernel (instead, they work as individual applications). Therefore, they do not pose a great threat to your Mac when a problem occurs.
You shouldn’t have to play kexts too often. And if your device runs Big Sur or higher, you will hardly ever need to install one.
If you ever need to delete a kext, you can easily delete it from the terminal. And if you’re using an older Mac and need to install a Kext, use KextBeast to make the process easier.