The following guide is a complete walk-through for updating to or installing a fresh version of OS X El Capitan. It requires no experience and all of the basic installation and post-installation tools are available on tonymacx86.com.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Download OS X El Capitan
Step 2: Create a Bootable USB with UniBeast
Step 3: Recommended BIOS Settings
Step 4: Install OS X El Capitan
Step 5: Post Installation with Clover
Troubleshooting and Optimizations
Before You Begin
1. Get UniBeast 6.0 tool from the link.
Download Unibeast 6.0
2. Purchase a 8GB or larger USB drive. We recommend using a 16GB drive, as some 8GB drives are not large enough to complete Step 2. The method requires 7.45GB free space.
3. Do a full backup of your system. We strongly recommend performing a full backup of your existing system using Carbon Copy Cloner. By doing this, you can always go back to your working installation.
UniBeast is a tool that creates a bootable installer out of your downloaded version of OS X. In order to start fresh, you’ll need access to a functional computer running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or later. This is a requirement, as you need access to the Mac App Store to download OS X and create the installation drive. To start from scratch, booting the 10.6 Snow Leopard Retail DVD directly, check out iBoot + MultiBeast.
If you have followed updates until OS X Yosemite using Chimera, check out Clover Basics and Switching Advice.
Existing Clover users may do a direct update to OS X El Capitan by simply running the Install OS X El Capitan app as normal Mac users would. Follow these steps: Direct Update to OS X El Capitan using Clover.
STEP 1: Download OS X El Capitan
The full operating system is a free download for anyone who has purchased Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion or has a Mac preloaded with OS X Mavericks or Yosemite. Download the Application from the Mac App Store using your Apple ID on any Mac or functional computer running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later.
1. Open Mac App Store
2. Log in with your Apple ID
3. Download OS X El Capitan
The Application Install OS X El Capitan will appear in /Applications.
STEP 2: Create a Bootable USB Drive with UniBeast
Take a deep breath and take your time- this is pretty simple, but it’s easy to miss things if you rush. Follow each step to the letter.
1. Insert the USB drive
2. Open /Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility
3. Highlight the USB drive in left column
6. Click Options…
7. Choose GUID Partition Table
8. Under Name: type USB (You can rename it later)
9. Under Format: choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
10. Click Apply then Partition
11. Download and run UniBeast
12. Click Continue, Continue, Continue, Continue, Agree
13. At Destination Select, choose USB and click Continue
14. At Select OS Installation screen choose El Capitan and click Continue
15. At Bootloader Options screen choose UEFI Boot Mode or Legacy Boot Mode
16. (Optional) At Graphics Configuration screen choose the appropriate graphics option for your system and click Continue.
17. Verify installation options, then click Continue, enter password and click Install
UniBeast will now create the bootable USB drive. The process will only take about 10 minutes, depending on system and drive speed. Do not unplug or stop during this time. If the process doesn’t complete, use a 16GB drive- some 8GB drives are not large enough. The method requires 7.45GB free space.
Clover Note: UniBeast delivers basic bootloader support based on our testing on recommended CustoMac systems. For further bootloader customization, download and run the official Clover package. Advanced users may also compile Clover by downloading the full source.
STEP 3: Recommended BIOS Settings
If you’re installing on a recommended CustoMac desktop with AMI UEFI BIOS, the options are simple. For other systems make sure to set your BIOS to Optimized Defaults, and your hard drive to AHCI mode. Here are standard AMI UEFI BIOS settings for Gigabyte AMI UEFI BIOS, Gigabyte AWARD BIOS, ASUS AMI UEFI BIOS, and MSI AMI UEFI BIOS.
1. To access BIOS/UEFI Setup, press and hold Delete on a USB Keyboard or F2 while the system is booting up
2. Load Optimized Defaults
3. If your CPU supports VT-d, disable it
4. If your system has CFG-Lock, disable it
5. If your system has Secure Boot Mode, disable it
6. Set OS Type to Other OS
7. Save and exit.
STEP 4: Install OS X El Capitan
You’re almost done! All you need to do is boot from the USB drive and install! For best results, insert the USB in a USB 2.0 port.
1. Turn on the computer
2. Press the hotkey to choose boot device (usually F12, F11, F10, or F8)
3. Choose USB
4. At Clover boot screen, choose Boot Mac OS X from USB
5. When you arrive at the Installer, choose language.
If you have issues reaching the installer, first make sure you’re using a USB 2.0 port. If you’re using a NVIDIA ‘Maxwell’ GeForce GTX 750, 750 Ti, 950, 960, 970, 980, 980 Ti, or TITAN X graphics card, the drivers are not natively supported. You may need to enter the boot flag nv_disable=1 to reach the installer. For instructions on entering boot flags see Clover Basics and Switching Advice.
6. For a new installation of OS X, you MUST erase and format the destination drive according to the following steps before continuing.
a. In the top menu bar choose Utilities, and open Disk Utility
b. Highlight your target drive for the El Capitan installation in left column.
c. Click Erase button
d. For Name: type El Capitan (You can rename it later)
e. For Format: choose OS X Extended (Journaled)
f. For Scheme: choose GUID Partition Map
g. Click Erase
h. Close Disk Utility
7. When the installer asks you where to install, choose El Capitan, or your existing install.
8. Upon completion, the system will automatically restart.
STEP 5: Post-Installation with Clover
The installation is complete, but the system drive isn’t bootable yet. Boot from the USB again, this time choosing El Capitan.
1. Press the hotkey to choose boot device
2. Choose USB
3. At Clover boot screen, choose Boot Mac OS X from El Capitan
4. Complete OS X El Capitan setup
5. Download El Capitan Post-Install Tools
The Post-Installation.zip contains two custom Clover installers and essential kexts. This will provide boot from hard drive while we finish up MultiBeast 8.0. Alternately, continue booting from the USB drive.
6. Run one of the two custom Clover installers. UEFI Boot Mode (Clover_v2.3k_r3270_UEFI.pkg) is recommended for 7/8/9+ Series CustoMac desktops and all UEFI capable systems. Legacy Boot Mode (Clover_v2.3k_r3270_Legacy.pkg) is recommended for 5/6 Series CustoMac desktops and all BIOS based systems. For further bootloader customization, download and run the official Clover package.
7. Run CustoMac Essentials to install FakeSMC and ethernet support.
The next steps configure the system definition, configure graphics, and provide it with a unique serial number.
8. Download and open Clover Configurator
9. Your config.plist should auto-mount. If not, choose Mount EFI Partition.
10. Select SMBIOS tab
11. Press Magic Wand Icon
12. Choose a System Definition from the list. Then choose a version of the system from the dropdown. This will auto-populate your config.plist with appropriate SMBIOS information including a unique serial number. If you’re unsure what to choose, Mac Pro 3,1 will work for most desktop systems.
13. (Optional) If you have an existing Chimera SMBIOS located at /Extra/smbios.plist, you can choose the same system definition in Clover Configurator, then copy that serial number into your config.plist manually.
14. (Optional) If you configured graphics for the UniBeast installation, open GUI tab and select Inject NVIDIA or Inject ATI.
15. Save and close Clover Configurator.
The next optional steps configure the system’s Realtek ALC onboard audio codec.
16. (Optional) Download CloverALC110 script
17. (Optional) Browser/Click on download file
18. (Optional) Finder/Double click .command file
19. (Optional) Go through steps in Terminal to install appropriate audio choices
If using a NVIDIA ‘Maxwell’ GeForce GTX 750, 750 Ti, 950, 960, 970, 980, 980 Ti, or TITAN X graphics card, OS X graphics drivers are not natively supported. Alternate NVIDIA drivers are required.
20. (Optional) Download and install Alternate NVIDIA Drivers
Yay! You now have a fully updated bootable version of OS X El Capitan on your CustoMac! And a super handy USB rescue drive. It’s easy to get frustrated, but don’t give up! If you get stuck, there are many users with similar hardware in the tonymacx86 Forum to provide support.
Thanks to all of the hard working developers, hackers, and testers all over the world without whom this guide would never have been possible.