OpenCore is, for lack of a better word, amazing. If you don’t know what OpenCore is, read about some of its benefits here. I have no experience (yet) with other versions of OpenCore, such as the Legacy patcher, but I fully intend to explore that as well at some point.
This post is the quick and easy guide that should have anyone up and running with OpenCore on the cMac Pros in minutes. This guide may have steps in it that are not needed for most people, but I include them so that the guide can work for anyone that reads it. Most of the text in this guide is simply explaining stuff, so don’t let the fact you see a bunch of text scare you off, this really is a simple process. Let’s get to it!
What you need:
– 2009, 2010, or 2012 Mac Pro (2009 4,1 must be flashed to 5,1)
– Westmere or newer CPU architecture
– 220.127.116.11.0 Boot ROM (You get this by running the Mojave installer and just doing the firmware update that is a part of it)
– Martin Lo’s preconfigured OpenCore for the cMP package.
For that package, go to this page, scroll down until you see all the attachments. Pick and download the latest one (0.7.1 at this time of writing)
The result will be a .zip file downloaded to your system with everything you need to install OpenCore on your Classic Mac Pro.
– If your Mac has multiple displays connected to it, disconnect all but one of them. Most people won’t have to do this, but some graphics cards have issues getting to the recovery OS when multiple displays are connected. So to keep this applicable to everyone, I’ll recommend you only have one screen connected. (Especially if your GPU is an RX580 8GB)
That is it. You’re now ready to install OpenCore.
Unfortunately, this being the world it is, a disclaimer. Your data is your responsibility. Make sure you have backups. Do all of this at your own risk. Noone but you is liable if anything goes wrong. Don’t fart in an elevator, and inhaling toxic fumes is bad for you. Etc. Etc. Etc.
- Even if you have a GPU that does not offer a boot screen, you can get to the recovery partition! But first, it’s a good idea to check if your system even has a recovery partition. To do that, open the Terminal application (Applications > Utilities). With Terminal open, type in the following:
- And hit enter/return. Depending on how many drives you have in or connected to your Mac Pro, this list may be pretty extensive.
Each disk will be listed, with under it all the partitions of that disk.
- What you’re looking for is the disk that holds your operating system. It will mention the following partitions:
If you see a partition that says:
APFS Volume Recovery
- You should be good to go. For me, the disk this is on is shown as “disk2”. For you, it may have another number. The recovery partition may show a different size, and that’s ok.
- If you do not find the recovery partition, and it is possible you don’t have one depending on how your macOS was installed, you will either have to create a recovery partition or use an external installer drive. You can create a recovery partition by re-running the macOS installer and installing it over your current system (no user files will be lost but always have a backup. Tools such as Carbon Copy Cloner can also create a recovery partition for you on an external drive.
Perform three NVRAM resets before booting into your recovery partition
- Restart your Mac and hold down Command+Option+P+R to reset the NVRAM (Also called PRAM). You’ll hear the Mac chime after a few seconds (this varies depending on the amount of RAM in your Mac). Keep holding those keys to repeat the process until you’ve heard the chime three times in total (or four if you’re not sure, doing more of them can’t hurt). Immediately after the last chime, change the key combination to Command+R to boot into your recovery partition, then move on to the next step.
Boot to your recovery partition.
- This is done by restarting your Mac and holding down Command+R as soon as you hear the startup chime. Or you’ve ended up here after doing the NVRAM reset.
- If you have a GPU that is flashed for macOS or natively supported by macOS, you’ll see the startup screen with the progress bar.
If your GPU is not flashed or natively supported, you won’t be able to see anything on the screen. So just hold down Command+R when you hear the chime for 30 seconds and then let go. Booting from recovery can be pretty slow, so you’ll likely end up staring at a black screen for a few minutes. If you still don’t see anything after 10 minutes (being generous here), shut down your Mac and try again.
- You should end up in Recovery mode and see this:
From the Utilities menu, open Terminal
In Terminal, type the following:
- Followed by the return/enter key. This will disable SIP. Don’t worry; you can re-enable SIP if you want after OpenCore has been installed.
Restart your Mac and verify SIP is disabled
- This is done by opening the Terminal application again and typing:
- The result should be “System Integrity Protection status: disabled.”
If not, go back to step 2 and try again, as SIP has not been disabled.
Unpack the OpenCore files by opening the previously downloaded .zip file.
- You should see the following files:
Check out the Readme.txt and just read the first paragraph to check out some of the excellent benefits of OpenCore. Read the whole thing if you want, one can never have too much information!
Open the Clover Configurator app
- If you get an ‘unidentified developer’ warning, click OK to dismiss it. Right-click (or control-click) the app and select “Open” from the popup menu. You’ll get the same warning, but this time it’ll allow you to open the app.
OpenCore has a lot of options. Don’t be intimidated by this app and its large amount of options. Just read on 🙂
In the left side bar of Clover Configurator, find “Mount EFI” under Tools and select it
Ignore the top half of the window and find the EFI partition of your boot drive in the bottom half
The appropriate boot drive will show the same partitions you saw earlier in Terminal. PreBoot, recovery, etc.
Mount the EFI partition
You will be required to enter your administrator password to mount the EFI partition. The result will be the EFI partition showing up on your desktop like a regular hard drive. You can open it there, or alternatively click the “Open partition” button in Clover Configurator.
Open the EFI partition
- (This gets a bit confusing so read carefully)
There are a few possibilities of what you’ll see now.
– A blank partition, nothing in it (proceed to step 14)
– A folder named “APPLE.” (Don’t touch that folder and proceed to step 14)
– A folder named “EFI.” If this is the case, open that folder and the EFI folder in the OpenCore .zip file and drag over the contents of that EFI folder (BOOT, OC) to the EFI folder on your EFI Partition.
So, in the first two scenarios, you drag the EFI folder to your partition.
In the third scenario, you drag the contents of the EFI folder to the EFI folder on your partition. Check out the second screenshot below for clarification.
From the OpenCore .zip file, grab the “EFI” folder and drag it into your EFI partition.
Bless your OpenCore installation
- Open the “Bless OpenCore” Automator script that you unpacked from your OpenCore .zip file. You will be asked to enter your administrator password to run this script.
- As soon as this script runs, you’ll notice a little gear icon in your menu bar. Once this gear icon disappears, the script has run. You will not see any kind of other notification/indication the script has been completed successfully.
- This is the only time you will need to run this bless script. There is no need to use it again, even with future updates.
Using Clover Configurator, unmount your EFI partition
- You are done with the EFI partition, so it can now be unmounted. Navigate to Clover Configurator and click the unMount partition button.
You can now quit Clover Configurator.
Restart your Mac
- If you could not see a boot screen before, you should see one now. At first, you’ll see your boot drive shown on the screen; just sit back as OpenCore will automatically select your boot drive in a few seconds and continue the startup process. If you’re impatient, just select it yourself with the arrow keys and hit enter/return.
- This screen where you can select your startup drive is called the bootpicker. There are a few things that should be mentioned.
• Some graphics cards will not show the boot picker on a Mac, due to incompatible firmware. On the vast majority of these cards there is a switch that lets you select a BIOS/firmware, just flipping that switch should allow it to display a boot picker screen.
• Some graphics cards may show the boot picker in weird colors and/or distorted. This is also because of a compatibility issue. However the boot picker is still functional and it won’t hurt the machine or the card, but it may look funky. See the image below for an example.
You’re now running an OpenCore enhanced Mac Pro, congratulations! If you didn’t read the OpenCore readme text file before, here are some of the benefits it lists:
- Boot screen (via GOP for unflashed card)
- Boot picker (only support EFI operating systems)
- Firmware protection (e.g. to run UEFI Windows. BootROM version will be spoofed to 918.104.22.168.0. This is normal, and safe for the cMP)
- Ability to watch DRM streaming content (Mojave and later)
- NVMe and SATA drives on a PCIe card show up as internal drives
- TRIM (regardless of trimforce status)
- Support for Apple USB SuperDrive
- Enable Continuity
- Ability to run non-GUI 32bit software in Catalina
- Ability to run any natively supported ancient OSX with modern graphic card (e.g. Radeon VII in 10.6.8)
- Ability to boot Catalina / Big Sur Recovery Partition
- Possible to run 8x32GB RAM in macOS [WARNING: on the first time you enable this memory config, you may need to let the cMP keep rebooting itself for 45min or even longer before all 256GB RAM can work properly in macOS]
I suggest you join the following Facebook groups:
– Mac Pro Upgrade
– OpenCore – On the Mac Pro
You’ll hear about the latest release of OpenCore as soon as it’s available and are able to ask questions, get support if needed etc. Updating OpenCore with a future release is as easy as re-doing steps 7-17 in this guide with the exception of step 15, the Bless script. If you want, you can now also turn SIP on again. To do this, boot into your Recovery partition, open Terminal and type “csrutil enable” followed by enter/return. restart your Mac and SIP will be enabled again.
I have asked Martin LO, the creator of the cMP OpenCore package, to read this guide before I published it. If you read this guide, it means Martin Lo signed off on it 🙂 Thanks to Martin Lo and Steve from Mac84 for their time proofreading this!
For the installation of macOS Catalina and Monterey, additional steps are required. Please refer to the abovementioned Facebook groups for more information. macOS Big Sur will install without issues using this guide.