Apple doesn’t want you to install macOS on a PC, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Numerous tools will help you create an installer that will allow to install any version of macOS from Snow Leopard onwards on a non-Apple PC. Doing so will result in what’s fondly known as a Hackintosh.
Before we start, note that Apple’s licence for macOS expressly forbids it being installed on anything other than a Mac, so if you choose to do it, don’t say we didn’t warn you. (For information and advice about Apple’s rules for using macOS, read Should you agree to Apple’s terms and conditions?)
And if you’re interested in the reverse procedure – getting Microsoft’s software on Apple’s hardware, in other words – check out our guide to installing Windows on a Mac.
What you’ll need to run macOS on a PC
Before you start, there are a few things you’ll need. Firstly, you’ll need a compatible PC.
The general rule is you’ll need a machine with a 64bit Intel processor. You’ll also need a separate hard drive on which to install macOS, one which has never had Windows installed on it. If you want to run more than just the basic OS, you should have at least 50GB of free space on the drive.
In order to create the macOS installer, you’ll need a Mac on which to download it from the App Store. Any Mac capable of running Mojave, the latest version of macOS, will do. And if you’re not sure if your Mac is capable or not, check our guides to identifying your Mac or checking its specs.
Finally, you’ll need a tool to create the installer, and a USB stick to put it on. Make sure it’s 8GB or bigger. If you’re using a recent MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, you’ll need a USB-C flash drive (which you can get from Amazon or PC World, among other retailers).
One of the most popular installer creation tools is Unibeast. It’s a free Mac app that creates an installer for macOS on a USB stick which is capable of being installed on an Intel PC. You’ll need to register on tonymacx86.com to download it, but once you’ve done that you’re ready to go.
How to create the macOS installer
Recent versions of macOS used to be easily accessible on the Mac App Store. Not any more. Search “High Sierra”, for example, and it won’t turn up. Instead, click here for High Sierra. To download macOS Mojave, click here.
When you start downloading, System Preferences’ Software Update will launch and show the progress of the download. Wait for it to finish.
When it’s finished, if you’re downloading High Sierra on a Mac running Mojave, you can quit System Preferences and look for the High Sierra installer in your Applications folder. If you’re downloading Mojave, download another version on a Mac that hasn’t yet been upgraded to Mojave, otherwise it will just update your current version.
1. Go to tonymacx86.com, register and download Unibeast. When it’s downloaded, install it as you would any other app.
2. Plug in the USB drive on which you want to install macOS and launch Disk Utility.
If the USB drive currently has more than one partition, click on the Partition tab and use the minus sign to reduce it to one partition occupying the fully capacity of the drive. Give the Partition a name, make sure the format is Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and click ‘Apply’.
3. If the Scheme is set to GUID Partition Map, skip to step 4. If not, click the Erase tab, change it and press Erase.
4. Launch Unibeast and, in the first window, select the USB drive you just formatted as the destination for the installer. Click Continue and step through the pages of the app until you come to the one that asks you to choose the OS you want to install. Click on Mojave or High Sierra, depending on which you want to install.
5. On the next page, you’ll be asked to choose between two boot modes, UEFI and Legacy. In most cases, you should choose UEFI. The exceptions are PCs that have an older motherboard that uses BIOS and not UEFI. If yours does, choose Legacy.
6. Once you’ve chosen the boot mode, you’ll be asked to specify your PC’s graphics card. If you have a PC with a recent Intel CPU, you can skip this step. It’s only necessary for PCs with graphics cards which aren’t compatible with macOS. If yours does, choose the option which best describes your graphics card.
7. When you click Continue, Unibeast will begin installing on your USB stick. It can take up to an hour, so you’ll need to be patient. In the meantime, you can get your PC ready by unplugging all USB devices and removing any internal hard drives other than the one on which you want to install macOS.
When it’s finished, download Multibeast and drag it on to the USB installer. Multibeast allows you to configure the installation on your PC.
8. If your PC has integrated and discrete graphics cards, remove the discrete one. Finally, connect your monitor to your PC’s DVI port if it has one. This tends to work better than HDMI or VGA.
9. You’ll also need to set up the PC motherboard’s BIOS or UEFI. If your PC has a Gigabyte motherboard with BIOS, follow this guide. If it has a Gigabyte motherboard with UEFI, use this guide. If you haven’t got a Gigabyte-branded motherboard, follow the guide at step 5 here.
How to install macOS on the PC
You’re now ready to begin the installation. Let’s continue:
10. Plug in the USB stick on which you installed Unibeast and restart your PC. It should now boot into Unibeast and give you the option of which drive to install from. Use your PC’s arrow keys to navigate to ‘External’ and press ‘Enter.’ The macOS installer should now start.
11. When it comes to selecting the drive on to which you want to install macOS, there may be no options to choose from.
If that’s the case, click the Utilities menu and, when Disk Utility opens, choose the hard drive you want to install macOS on and click the Erase tab. Make sure Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is selected and the Scheme is set to GUID Partition Map, then click Erase. When the drive has erased, quit Disk Utility and the drive should be available to select from the installer.
12. Select the drive and step through the installer until macOS starts installing itself. After half an hour or so, it will finish. When it’s done, restart your PC, with the USB drive still plugged in. This time, the Unibeast boot menu will display the macOS boot disk. Select it and your PC will boot into macOS.
Once it’s installed, launch Multibeast and configure your settings.
Installing macOS on a PC is a hack, hence the name Hackintosh. As such, it’s not officially supported by anyone. The guide above will work in most cases, if it doesn’t, you can find help here.
Creating an installer in Terminal
If you want more control over configurations and settings, you can create a USB installer manually using Terminal, and use Clover as the bootloader. Follow steps 1-3 above, to prepare your USB flash drive. Then launch Terminal.
1. In a Terminal window, type:
sudo /Applications/Install macOS Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume
Replace “MyVolume” with the name of your USB flash drive. If you’re installing High Sierra, replace “Mojave.app” with “High Sierra.app”.
2. Press Return.
3. When prompted, type your administrator name and password.
4. When prompted, type ‘y’ to confirm you want to erase the drive.
5. When it’s done, quit Terminal.
6. Download Clover.
7. Install Clover EFI (or Legacy for BIOS systems), selecting your USB installer as the target.
8. When it’s done, navigate to /EFI/CLOVER/kexts/Other/ on the USB drive and download and add FkeSMC.kext.
You can now follow the instructions for Unibeast from step 10 above to install macOS on your PC.
What about running macOS in a virtual machine?
The above method isn’t the only way to run macOS on a Windows PC, but it is the most straightforward and the most likely to be successful. You could, technically, install macOS using virtual machine software such as VMWare Fusion or the free VirtualBox.
However, to do that, you’d need a specially created virtual image of the macOS version you want to install. And you’d need a trusted source to download it from. And once you’ve done it, the process isn’t any more simple than using the process above. In fact, in some ways it’s more complicated.
If you really want to use VirtualBox to run macOS on a PC, you can find more details here. We can’t vouch for the virtual image linked to on that site, nor whether the process works. Given the potential pitfalls, it’s not a solution we’d recommend.