It can be tempting to solve your problems by purchasing a new computer if you have the financial means. After all, Apple’s M1 Macs are fantastic; they’re lightning fast and incredibly efficient, and they might make your old, sluggish, unsupported Mac look a little less so. Furthermore, a new Mac currently supports macOS Big Sur, will smoothly update to macOS Monterey, and will continue to receive updates for years to come.
The good news is that you don’t have to get rid of your old Mac to run Apple’s latest software. While Apple may reject your Mac for the latest version of macOS, there are those who are dedicated to keeping older Macs running as long as possible, and have figured out how to run software like Big Sur on Macs that are nearly 15 years old.
Why does Apple discontinue service for older Macs?
To begin with, it’s not just Apple; all tech companies eventually stop supporting their devices’ software. They do so for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is that old technology can’t keep up with new software. Companies eventually decide that their latest software update isn’t worth the hassles of installing on older hardware, even if certain demanding features are stripped down for older hardware.
Of course, the cynical (but realistic) view is that dropping software support for older devices is part of a business strategy.
As a result, customizing software updates for older devices becomes more difficult and expensive. Every time Apple releases a new iMac or MacBook, it adds another device to the overall library, which means macOS developers have to think about it when developing the software. It takes a lot of resources to make sure that a new software update doesn’t break something on a specific device, so it’s easier to just drop support for that machine after a while.
Of course, the cynical (but realistic) view is that dropping software support for older devices is part of a business strategy. If Apple discontinues macOS support for your Mac, you’ll be much more likely to consider purchasing a new one than if you could take advantage of the most recent features and changes. This is beginning to change as more people realize that their older technology is still usable, but it won’t help you if your Mac is already unsupported.
How to install the latest macOS version on your old Mac
When a company like Apple decides that your Mac can no longer run macOS, the little guy is left to figure it out on their own. This is where OpenCore Legacy Patcher comes in. This tool deceives macOS into believing you’re using a newer Mac than you actually are. As a result, any Mac that OpenCore can support can now run the latest version of macOS.
Generally, OpenCore Legacy Patcher supports Macs running back to 2008, with one model from 2007. Macs from 2006 and earlier are generally not supported here. You can find a complete list of OpenCore supported Macs here. Aside from a compatible Mac, you’ll need a 16 GB USB drive in order to set up OpenCore. Once you go through the whole setup, you’ll be able to set up the patcher on your computer itself, so you won’t need the USB drive each time you boot into your chosen version of macOS.
OpenCore Legacy Patcher has a thorough walk-through that you can use to download the version of macOS you want to run, and explains how to install it on the device of your choosing. If you’re a bit tech-savvy, you’ll likely cruise right through the instructions and be on your way to a “new” Mac. However, if you take a look at the instructions and find them a bit daunting, you can look elsewhere for support.
It might be more helpful for you to follow these instructions visually. Mr. Macintosh has an excellent video walkthrough on YouTube that you could use if OpenCore’s instructions are a bit too confusing to follow. He even links to Big Sur installers directly, so you don’t need to go through Terminal to download them as OpenCore’s instructions have you do.
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How to install macOS Monterey on your old Mac
Apple is discontinuing support for the 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iMac models, as well as the 2015 MacBook, with macOS Monterey. If you have one of these newly unsupported models, or an even older Mac, you’re probably wondering how to use Open Core Legacy Patcher to install macOS Monterey on it.
MacOS Monterey is not yet available as of the writing of this article. OpenCore, on the other hand, allows you to install the Monterey beta on your old Mac. You’ll follow the same steps as before, except you’ll use the macOS Monterey beta installer this time. You can find the latest valid download links for the Monterey beta installer at Mr. Macintosh’s website here. He even has a macOS Monterey beta-specific walk-through, if you’re interested.