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October 3, 2015

How to install OS X El Capitan on your PC with Unibeast

If you're interested in running Mac OS X, but you don't want to pay ridiculous prices for a normal Mac, then a Hackintosh just might be for you. Right now, the newest iteration of OS X is 10.11, known as El Capitan. Installing El Capitan on a PC is slightly different from installing Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), due to new developments in Hackintoshing tools. This guide will follow tonymacx86's standard Unibeast method, except that we try to cover the process with more detail (and pictures!).

  • A compatible computer: Not every computer will work with Mac OS X, even with the help of tools like Unibeast. Be sure to read the Hackintosh compatibility guide very carefully, to check whether or not your computer qualifies. The hardware requirements for OS X El Capitan are identical to those for OS X Yosemite; AMD processors and older 32-bit Intel processors (such as Pentium M) are not supported. If your computer already has OS X Yosemite installed, Unibeast will just update Yosemite to El Capitan normally, without deleting any of your apps or files.

  • A separate hard drive: Mac OS X needs its own hard drive (a minimum of 10 GB of space is required, but at least 50 GB of space is recommended). Unibeast will not usually work on a hard drive where Windows was installed first, although you can often bypass this requirement by applying the MBR patch to Unibeast (the process for El Capitan is the same as for Mountain Lion).

  • Unibeast: Unibeast is a free Mac program that modifies the official OS X El Capitan installer, and writes it onto a USB drive. You can then use this Unibeast USB drive to run the El Capitan installer on a PC. Unibeast works with Mac OS X Snow Leopard and newer; registration on is required to download Unibeast (be sure to download the newest version).

  • A real Mac/existing Hackintosh/OS X virtual machine: Unibeast is a Mac app, so you need a computer with Mac OS X to run it. You could use a real Mac or existing Hackintosh with OS X already installed, if you own one. Alternatively, you could install Yosemite on a virtual machine, and run Unibeast on there instead. Be sure to install the Virtualbox Extension Pack to view USB drives from your virtual machine.

  • OS X El Capitan: The method used by this guide requires that you download a free copy of the El Capitan installer app from the Mac App Store. Though the Mac App Store is included in Mac OS X 10.6.6 and newer, you have to be running at least 10.6.8 to download El Capitan.

  • An empty USB drive (8 GB or larger): The USB drive used for Unibeast must be at least 8 GB in size. Since Unibeast will erase all of the files on your USB drive, make sure to back up its contents first. You can reuse this USB drive for normal stuff after you finish installing El Capitan.

  • Multibeast: Multibeast is a collection of kext files and software fixes that your Hackintosh will need to run properly, after the initial installation. Download it onto a USB drive. Be sure to download the newest version 8 of Multibeast, not any of the older versions.

1. Download OS X El Capitan
In your Mac/existing Hackintosh/virtual machine running Mac OS X, open the Mac App Store app and download the latest version of OS X El Capitan. This is a 8 GB download, so it's probably going to take a while.

Once the Mac App Store app finishes downloading OS X El Capitan, an update window will pop up. Ignore this window-- you can close it with the keyboard shortcut Command+Q (a.k.a Windows button + Q).

NOTE: If you're updating to OS X El Capitan from an existing Hackintosh that is already using the Clover bootloader, don't close this window; instead, follow this Clover-specific update guide.

2. Format your USB drive for Unibeast
Plug your USB drive into your Mac/existing Hackintosh/OS X virtual machine, and open Disk Utility (located in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder). Select the USB drive in the sidebar of Disk Utility, and go to the "Partition" tab of Disk Utility. Click the "Options" button, and check the partition scheme: it should be set to "GUID Partition Table" by default.
NOTE: In previous version of Mac OS X, we used to set this to "Master Boot Record" (MBR). For El Capitan, however, we'll be using the new Clover bootloader (more on that later), which doesn't work with the MBR partition scheme.

Then, create a new partition layout with 1 partition. Set the format to "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". Name the new partition whatever you want (I named mine "Pizza Pie"), and click "Apply".

This will erase and reformat your USB drive so that it's ready for Unibeast. The process should only take a few seconds to complete.

3. Run Unibeast
Download Unibeast and run it. Make sure that the OS X El Capitan installation app from the Mac App Store is inside your "Applications" folder of Mac OS X.

Select your USB drive as the installation destination (mine is named "Pizza Pie").

Click through the pages in the Unibeast installer, until you reach the following selection page. Choose the "El Capitan" option.

Click to the next page. You will have to choose between two bootloader options: UEFI Boot Mode, and Legacy Boot Mode. This is the main difference between OS X El Capitan and older versions of OS X; to run El Capitan on PCs, Unibeast uses the new Clover bootloader, which offers more advanced features than the traditional Chameleon and Chimera bootloaders.

UEFI Boot Mode is essentially a "classic" installation of Clover bootloader. Choose this option if you're planning to install El Capitan onto a computer whose motherboard uses UEFI instead of BIOS (a.k.a. it was manufactured in 2012 or newer). Meanwhile, if the computer's motherboard still uses BIOS, you'll probably want to choose Legacy Boot Mode instead-- this installs a setup of Clover that has been modified for increased compatibility with older computers. You should also choose Legacy Boot Mode if you're installing OS X on a hard drive with an MBR partition scheme (a.k.a the drive already has Windows installed on it)

Next, you'll be asked to choose a graphics configuration. This step is only necessary for a few older graphics card that aren't compatible with OS X by default. Otherwise, skip this step. For instance, if you're planning to install El Capitan on a computer with a NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT graphics card, you'll have to choose the "Inject NVIDIA" option here. (If you don't know what graphics card your computer has, use a program like CPU-Z.)

Finally, you can start the installation process-- Unibeast will copy the El Capitan installer app onto your USB drive, and perform a few necessary modifications to make the USB drive bootable on PCs. Just sit back and relax.

Though Unibeast is supposed to only take 10-15 minutes to run, it may take up to an hour, depending on how fast your USB drive is.

4. Set up the parts of your PC
Before you begin your El Capitan installation, make sure to follow these procedures:
  • Unplug all USB-connected devices from your computer before you begin the setup (except your keyboard and mouse). A faulty external USB hard drive, for instance, can cause your Hackintosh bootloader to give you errors on startup.
  • Open up your computer and unplug any extra internal hard drives that your computer has, besides the hard drive that you're installing OS X on. (Just unplug the hard drive SATA cables from your motherboard.)
  • If your computer uses a discrete (separate) graphics card, unplug the graphics card from your computer motherboard and use the integrated graphics on your CPU instead (assuming your CPU actually has integrated graphics). Doing this will reduce the number of possible points of failure-- Mac OS X tends to have a lot of problems with discrete graphics cards during the installation process.
  • Connect your monitor to the DVI port of your computer's integrated graphics, if possible. The Mac OS X installer sometimes has problems with HDMI and VGA.
NOTE: If you're installing Mac OS X on a computer that already has Windows installed on a separate internal hard drive, you may have to enable AHCI for Windows beforehand. Otherwise, Windows won't boot afterwards (this is usually only a problem on computers with pre-2012 motherboards). Also, after installing Mac OS X, you may have to sync your clock on Windows with Mac OS X.

5. Set up your motherboard's BIOS or UEFI
Essentially, the BIOS (or UEFI) is the settings page for your computer's motherboard. From here, you can fiddle with how your computer hardware works-- it's often necessary to change a few basic settings in the BIOS or UEFI to get Mac OS X up and running. The BIOS standard is generally used by motherboards from before 2012, while the UEFI standard is used by motherboards made after that.

Not sure whether your computer's motherboard uses BIOS or UEFI? Here's a quick guide to differentiating between the two: the interface of BIOS is usually monochrome and entirely text-based. Meanwhile, the interface of UEFI usually has pictures, and allows you to use your mouse pointer.

UEFI on the left, BIOS on the right
Depending on the brand and standard used by your computer's motherboard, adjust your settings accordingly:
  • If you own a Gigabyte motherboard with BIOS: Guide
  • If you own a Gigabyte motherboard with UEFI: Guide
  • If you own a non-Gigabyte motherboard with UEFI (from tonymacx86):
    • To access BIOS/UEFI Setup, press and hold Delete on a USB Keyboard while the system is booting up.
    • Load Optimized Defaults.
    • Set USB drive to the highest boot priority.
    • If your CPU supports VT-d, disable it.
    • If your system has CFG-Lock, disable it.
    • If your system has Secure Boot Mode, disable it.
    • If your system has OS Type, set it to Other OS.
    • Save and exit.
Once that's done, plug in your Unibeast USB drive in your computer, and then restart your computer.

6. Boot into Unibeast
If things go well, your computer will now boot from the Unibeast USB drive instead of booting from your normal hard drive. You will then be able to view the Unibeast boot menu.

If you do not manage to reach the Unibeast menu, check your motherboard's BIOS settings to make sure that the changes you made in Step 4 were properly applied. If they were, but you still cannot boot from the Unibeast USB drive, unplug your USB drive, and go back to Step 1. Reformat your USB drive with Disk Utility and try again. If all else fails, try using a different USB drive for Unibeast.

At the Unibeast menu, select your Unibeast USB drive (it will probably be represented by a picture of an "External" drive) by using the arrow keys on your keyboard, and then press the enter key (or return key) to start the OS X El Capitan installer.

In the worst case scenarios, instead of loading the Mac OS X installer, you may end up at a dark gray screen that tells you to restart your computer (a kernel panic), or you may end up with a small crossed-out sign (a loading error). If you get a kernel panic/loading error (or if the Mac OS X installer simply won't start within 10 minutes), you'll need to enter some boot flags.

To do this, manually restart your computer by pressing your computer's power button. Then, once you've booted back into the Unibeast menu, input the necessary boot flags, and try starting OS X once again. Check out our list of common boot flags and our guide to fixing boot problems with verbose mode for reference.

7. Install El Capitan
Continue, and you will eventually come up to a page that asks you where you want to install OSX.

If you're installing El Capitan on your computer for the first time, the hard drive selection box will be blank. This is because OS X cannot be installed on any new hard drive unless it has been entirely cleared by Disk Utility.

To fix this problem, click on "Utilities" in the screen's top menu bar, and open up the Disk Utility app. Then, in the sidebar of Disk Utility, choose the hard drive where you want to install OS X. Click the "Erase" button at the top of the window, give your drive a name, set the Format to "OS X Extended (Journaled)," set the Scheme to "GUID Partition Map," and erase! Alternatively, you can split the hard drive into multiple new partitions by using the Partition button (this will also erase the drive). Then, exit Disk Utility (click the red exit button on the upper left corner) and return to the hard drive selection page-- your hard drive should now be showing up.

Otherwise, if you're just updating your existing Hackintosh to El Capitan, choose the hard drive partition where you want to install Mac OS X (mine is named "Cool stuff"). El Capitan will now install itself. This will take at least 30 minutes.

Restart your computer, and keep the Unibeast USB drive plugged in. At the Unibeast boot menu, you'll see an icon for the hard drive where you installed El Capitan. Select it (use the arrow keys on your computer) and press "Enter". If everything works properly, then El Capitan will boot. Mission accomplished!

Once again, if you get a kernel panic/loading error when you try to boot your new Yosemite installation (or if the installation simply won't start within 10 minutes), you'll need to enter some boot flags.

To do this, manually restart your computer by pressing your computer's power button. Then, once you've booted back into the Unibeast menu, input the necessary boot flags, and try starting OS X once again. Check out our list of common boot flags and our guide to fixing boot problems with verbose mode for reference.

8. Multibeast
When you install OS X on a PC for the first time, most features will not work by default, including sound, internet, and even normal booting (without the help of a Unibeast USB drive, at least). You can fix this problem by using tonymacx86's Multibeast app, which allows you to install all of the necessary software fixes for your computer in one easy move.

Different Hackintosh builds require different Multibeast setups, though most setups are very similar. Whether you're installing Mac OS X on your computer for the first time, or just updating your computer from an older version of OS X, you'll probably have to run Multibeast after the initial installation of El Capitan. You can find out what options you need to install in our guide to Multibeast 8.

NOTE: To run Multibeast in OS X El Capitan, you will probably have to go to the "Security" section of System Preferences in Mac OS X, click on the "General" section, and checkmark "Anywhere" in the "Allow applications" section.

Once your computer has restarted, you should now be running a fully functional copy of OS X El Capitan on your PC. Congratulations!

9. Updating your computer?
Mac OS X has a relatively consistent update schedule: Apple releases a major update for the operating system once a year (e.g. the update from Yosemite 10.10 to El Capitan 10.11), as well as multiple smaller updates throughout the year (e.g. the update from El Capitan 10.11 to 10.11.1). Although major updates can be a bit more complicated, generally, it's very easy to apply the smaller system updates to your Hackintosh.

In the past, applying system updates was a relatively involved process, since updates would often break Hackintosh-specific drivers. Thanks to the new Clover bootloader, however, it's now incredibly easy to apply most (smaller) system updates to your Hackintosh. Simply use the "Update" feature built into the Mac App Store app.

That being said, it's still recommended that you do your research every time you update Mac OS X, even when you're using Clover. Unless you have backed up your entire hard drive, you should never install a Mac OS X system update (even a smaller one) on the first day of its release. Instead, it is best to wait a few days for the Hackintosh "community" to test the update first.

The simplest source for keeping up to date with news on Mac OS X updates is Every time there is a system update, the administrators on tonymacx86 will make a news post on the front page of their website. As the community learns more about a particular system update, this news post will list all relevant information about the update in a convenient and sequential manner.

If you have personally edited the built-in graphics drivers on your Hackintosh to work with your graphics card, you may have to re-edit those drivers every time you update, even with Clover. And if you installed official graphics drivers from NVIDIA, hold off from updating until NVIDIA releases a new version of those drivers.