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 is just might be for you. Right now, the newest iteration of OS X is 10.10, known as Yosemite. In this guide, we’ll show you how to install Yosemite on your PC with the newly released “Yosemite Zone” distro, from Niresh.
The advantages of Unibeast vs Yosemite Zone
Yosemite is a distro, which is a copy of Mac OS X that has been modified to work with a PC. Distros are a popular Hackintosh alternative to Unibeast, a known installation tool which requires a retail copy of Mac OS X instead.
Yosemite Zone is essentially just a renamed version of the Niresh distro that we’ve covered previously on this website, except it has been updated to work with Apple’s newest version of Mac OS X. Using Yosemite Zone instead of Unibeast offers a far share of advantages– if you don’t have any qualms with the legal issues regarding distros, they’re actually the most convenient way to set up your Hackintosh:
- You don’t need a real Mac. Unibeast is a Mac app, so you need to have an existing Mac OS X installation for it to work. This usually means that you either have to find a real Mac, or set up a Mac virtual machine. However, with Yosemite Zone, you can just set up everything from a Windows computer.
- The post-installation is easier. By default, Yosemite Zone will automatically install necessary Hackintosh-specific kexts and drivers for your computer when you boot your Mac OS X installation for the first time. Unibeast requires you to do this manually, using the Multibeast tool. While the post-installation in Yosemite Zone isn’t perfect (you’ll probably have to use Multibeast anyways), it’s still a nice convenience.
- You can install it on a hard drive that already has Windows installed. By default, the Mac OS X installer will not work with hard drives that were originally formatted in Windows. Therefore, if your computer’s hard drive already has Windows installed on it, you won’t be able to install Mac OS X on there. Normally, you can bypass this limitation on Unibeast by applying the MBR patch; however, Yosemite Zone does this for you automatically, saving you one extra step.
- Yosemite Zone supports more hardware (including AMD). Normally, computers that use AMD processors are unsupported by Mac OS X. However, Yosemite Zone includes experimental “patched” kernels that may allow Mac OS X to work with these processors regardless.
Interested? Here are the requirements:
- An existing Windows computer/Mac/Hackintosh: This is the computer where you will download and set up Yosemite Zone. The computer can run either Windows or Mac OS X; both operating systems will work.
- A Hackintosh-compatible computer with an empty hard drive: This is the computer where you will install OS X Yosemite. It can be the same computer as the one mentioned in the previous point. If your computer already has Mac OS X installed, Yosemite Zone will just update OS X normally, without deleting any of your apps or files.
- Yosemite Zone 10.10.1 (Free): Yosemite Zone is a distro of OS X Yosemite that has been modified to work with PCs. You will need to use a BitTorrent client to download the disk image file containing Yosemite Zone, which is a little less than 6 GB in size. You must register on the Hackintosh Zone website to be able to download anything.
- An empty USB drive (6 GB or larger): In this guide, you will write Yosemite Zone onto a USB drive, and boot your computer from that drive to install OS X Yosemite. The USB drive must be at least 6 GB in size. Since you will need to erase all of the files on the USB drive, make sure to back up its contents first. You can reuse this USB drive for normal stuff after you finish installing Yosemite.
- TransMac: ($48, 15-day free trial): If you’re using a Windows computer to set up Yosemite Zone, you need to use TransMac to write the disk image file onto your USB drive. You can just download the free trial.
- Restore Yosemite.pkg: (Free): If you’re using a Mac to set up Yosemite Zone, you need to Hackintosh Zone’s special “Restore Yosemite” app to write the disk image file onto your USB drive. Again, you must register on the Hackintosh Zone website to be able to download anything.
1 Create your Yosemite Zone USB Installer
1a. Create your Yosemite Zone USB drive (Mac)
Double click on “Restore Yosemite.pkg” to start the app. By default, the app will be aimed at your computer’s main hard drive (mine is named “Super Panda” in the screenshot below). You do not want this– instead, click through the installer until you reach the page with the “Change Install Location” button.
From here, change the install location of the app to your USB drive (mine is named “Macaroni” in the screenshot below).
Press the enter/return key. The app will ask for your system password. After you enter your password, it will begin writing the Yosemite Zone disk image onto the USB drive. This will probably take 20-40 minutes, though it may take longer, depending on the speed of your USB drive. Once it finishes, your USB drive will contain a fully bootable version of the OS X Yosemite installer.
NOTE: “Restore Yosemite.pkg” is very glitchy. If you can’t find the “Change Install Location” button on the first time that you run the app, restart your computer and re-run the app.
1b. Create your Yosemite Zone USB drive (Windows)
Follow this step if you’re setting up Yosemite Zone on Windows. Plug your USB drive into your computer, and open TransMac. Find your USB drive on the left-hand column of the TransMac window. Right-click on the USB drive, and click “Format Disk for Mac”. This will delete all of the files on your drive and prepare it for Mac OS X.
Once your USB drive is done formatting, right-click it again and click “Restore with Disk Image”. A file selection window will pop up; choose your Yosemite Zone disk image file (it will probably be called “Yosemite-Zone.dmg”), and proceed. Now, TransMac will write Yosemite Zone onto your USB drive.
This will probably take 20-40 minutes, though it may take longer, depending on the speed of your USB drive. Once TransMac finishes, your USB drive will contain a fully bootable version of the OS X Yosemite installer.
2 Set up the parts of your PC
These procedures are necessary for a hassle-free installation:
- Unplug all USB-connected devices from your computer before you begin the setup (except your keyboard and mouse). A faulty external USB hard drive can cause your Hackintosh bootloader to give you EBIOS 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 possible, connect your monitor to the DVI port of your computer’s graphics. The Mac OS X installer sometimes has problems with HDMI and VGA.
3 Set up your motherboard’s BIOS
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.
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:
- 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.