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How to Install the Latest macOS on an Older MacBook

Tips • Jan.24th, 2023

Older MacBooks were built extremely well and the biggest reason they’re not being used so much in use is the operating system.

They just don’t support the latest macOS version and without the latest version, you’ll have limited support and limited ability to install the latest app versions.

Also, you’ll be missing out on some modern features and new apps.

However, if you have an old MacBook laying around or you’re interested in buying a used old MacBook to upgrade it and use it, it’s a possibility!

Down below, you’ll learn everything you need to get started and update your old Macbook to the newest macOS even if it’s not officially supported!

RELATED: How to Clean Install macOS (Ventura, Monterey or Older)

What will you need?

You will need a MacBook (Pro or Air, 2009 or newer year), a USB of at least 16 GB, and an OpenCore Legacy Patcher tool.

The whole process is simple and here are the 4 main steps you will need to follow:

  • Download the OpenCore Legacy Patcher tool
  • Prepare the USB for installation
  • Installation process
  • Post-installation patches and updates

However, it’s highly recommended to update your MacBook’s components for better performance so you get the best performance you can out of the latest macOS on an older MacBook.

Two recommended components include the replacement of the hard disk drive with a solid state drive to improve the speed, but also the upgrade of RAM.

So if you decide to upgrade your MacBook Pro, you’ll need a 2.5′ SATA SSD and you’ll need RAM for your MacBook version. We highly recommend maxing out the RAM which is about 8 or 16 GB for older MacBooks.

RELATED: Best Memory Cleaner for Mac to Free Up RAM

How to install the latest macOS on an older MacBook?

The whole process is simple and once you prepare everything you’ll need, it’s more of a waiting game while the installation process does its job, so here’s what you need to do to get started!

Download and Install OpenCore Legacy Patcher

The first and most important step is to download the OpenCore Legacy Patcher onto your old MacBook.

This is a tool that will help you download the latest macOS version and create a bootable USB drive that you can use to install the latest macOS system onto your MacBook.

To get OpenCore Legacy Patcher, visit the official website by following the link to download and install the app to your laptop.

Note: A list of supported MacBook models you can do this on can be found here.

Downloading macOS

When you install OpenCore, open it and click ‘Create macOS Installer’. In the new tab, click ‘Download macOS Installer’. This will find the latest macOS versions and let you choose which one of the three latest versions would you like to have. At the time of writing, this was Monterey, with Ventura in beta testing.

Selecting the middle option is the best bet because it’s the best version after the latest beta version.

This will take some time to download so you can sit back, but feel free to continue using your MacBook while this downloads.

Creating Bootable USB Drive

When it completes, click on the ‘Install macOS Monterey’, plug in the USB drive to your MacBook, and select it from the OpenCore menu.

This will format your USB drive and copy the latest macOS files onto the USB but it will also make it bootable so you can install the latest macOS via the USB.

This is all you need to do and from there, it’s more of a waiting time until all files are copied to your USB.

Installing OpenCore Legacy Patcher to Your Storage Drive

When the process in the last step is complete, you should click on ‘Build and Install OpenCore’.

Once again, press the top button that says ‘Build OpenCore’.

In the pop-up menu, click ‘Install to Disk’ and then select the internal storage drive of your MacBook (HDD or SSD).

When you select your internal MacBook storage, click on install EFI and this will create an installation partition so you can install the latest operating system via USB.

When you get a pop-up asking you to reboot, you can click the “Reboot” button to restart your MacBook.

The Installation Process

At this step, you should have your USB drive still plugged into your MacBook and you should restart your MacBook.

When you see a white background and the MacBook turning on sound, you should press the power button and press and hold ALT (option key).

This will lead you to booting options and you should select the EFI Boot Option. It’s the one to the left and it has a blue OpenCore icon. It’s what we did in the last step and it’s the way to install the latest macOS version.

When the next screen pops up, you’ll see Install ‘macOS name’. In this case, it was the ‘Install macOS Monterey‘ for us, so no matter the version you chose to install, you should click on that installation button.

Before you start with the installation process, the last thing you will need to do is format the storage drive to erase it (empty it) and let it automatically format the storage drive to the preferred format type for your selected macOS version.

Head to Disk Utility when the new window pops up, in the left menu select your internal HDD or SSD, and click on the Erase button at the top track.

In the new pop-up, you can choose any name, and in the format, it’s highly recommended to select APFS format for the latest macOS versions.

Erasing process shouldn’t take too long. Afterward, click on the Done button, head back to the main menu by clicking back, and then click the ‘Install macOS Name’ button.

This is when you’ll also have to wait a lot more as the whole installation process completes for you.

At this point, you can’t use your MacBook, and keep in mind it’s recommended to keep your MacBook connected to a charger so it doesn’t shut down during the installation process.

The installation process can take anywhere from 40 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the performance of your MacBook.

Also, during the installation, your MacBook will restart, and you might see a black or white screen, and that’s not something you should be afraid of as it’s the normal part of the installation process.

You’ll know that the installation is complete once you get to the configuration and final setup.

Final Setup

When the installation is complete, you’ll get to the final setup where macOS will ask you to follow the steps to set the macOS to your liking.

You will get to connect your MacBook to the internet, choose security and safety settings, log into your Apple ID, choose a theme, enable Siri, and set a couple more options.

This is the easiest step and you only need to follow the on-screen instructions. After you go through all these steps, you will be able to use your MacBook for the first time (as if it’s brand new) with the latest macOS running!

Post-Installation Patches

When you are finally able to use your MacBook with the latest macOS version running, you should do the post-installation patches before you fully immerse yourself in the experience of the new system.

With your USB drive still in your MacBook, you should open it and copy OpenCore Patcher to your desktop.

At this point, you can eject your USB drive and then open the OpenCore Patcher app from your desktop.

In the menu of the app, click on the ‘Post Install Root Patch’ button. In the new menu, you will be able to get information on the patches. If there are available patches, install them by clicking on the ‘Start Root Patching’ button.

However, if there aren’t any patches available, simply close the OpenCore Patcher and that’s it, you’re done!

These patches help fix bugs and glitches when you’re running the latest macOS on an older MacBook, but it also helps keep the operating system running smoothly with your configuration.

This is the last and final step and when you’re done with this, congratulations, you got your MacBook updated to the latest macOS!

Is it safe to install the latest macOS on an older MacBook?

Installing the latest macOS on an older MacBook is a safe process if you’re following the steps mentioned in this article.

We don’t recommend using the beta version, yet always choose the official version of the latest macOS to keep things running smoothly.

We didn’t mention this earlier in the article, but if you have any valuable information on your older MacBook, it’s recommended to back it up, store it in the cloud, or transfer your valuable data to an external storage drive.

You will be erasing the storage drive so you will lose all data you had on your MacBook, so this is something to keep in mind.

If you would like to upgrade without losing any data, this is also a possibility, and you will have to create two partitions on your storage drive, move all files you’d like to keep to the new partition so you can erase only one of the partitions (where the system is).

This is a bit more work but it can be done and if that’s what you’re interested in, you should look up articles on how to do so online.

Of course, we also have to mention that only a couple of features might not work since the latest macOS is made to work with the newer configuration. However, you’ll still be able to use about 98% of the features, as well as install the latest app versions directly from the AppStore.

RELATED: How to Clear System Data Storage on Mac

Conclusion

Even though you can’t officially install the latest macOS on older unsupported MacBooks, you can do it with the help of a patcher.

This can help you prolong the life of your older MacBook, let you install and use the latest apps, and still make the most of your MacBook for lighter use such as college work.

Even if you’re doing this the first time, you shouldn’t have too many issues because all the steps are easy to follow and you only need to follow the instructions.

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