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3rd November 2020
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OpenCore Catalina Install Guide

What Are The Benefits?

This OpenCore Catalina install guide is perfect if you’re looking at moving straight from Mojave or High Sierra straight up to Catalina with little to no effort at all. There are a couple of tutorials out there using OpenCore but we’ve condensed all that down into a small, manageable package.

This modification also provides you with the option to navigate to the boot screen allowing you to select your startup disk without an EFI graphics card. You don’t, therefore, have to be using an original card, such as a 580, 560 or even a 5700 XT which are not usually supported on Catalina anyway. Chances are, if you are still running Mojave, you’re likely going to be running some of these cards.

Another great benefit that comes when running these EFI cards in macOS, is the fact that you’ll get hardware decoding and encoding; H.264 and H. 265. When running video editing applications such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro, you will notice a considerable increase in performance, with editing generally feeling a lot smoother, render times will be reduced and there will be no need to transcode to ProRes. If you’re running a Mac for high-level video editing and you’re specifically using these cards, using this modification is a great way to unlock additional performance benefits, such as GPU acceleration from what is essentially a software upgrade.

There are also a couple of helpful byproducts of this OpenCore modification. For starters, the Thunderbolt Titan Ridge card with custom EFI will also work with this form of modification, as well as Big Sur! After downloading the Big Sur beta with our developer account, we managed to get the beta working perfectly using this exact same, blessed drive.

The first step involves mounting the EFI partition on the main drive. We would recommend removing all other drives in the system other than the drive that you wish to install on. You then want to  install a piece of software known as OpenCore Configurator and for ease we have included pre-packaged EFI files. Follow the link below and once downloaded and installed, you can go ahead and begin the first step.

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Step 1

Firstly, open the OpenCore Configurator, head on up to the Toolbar and select Tools and then select Mount EFI. This will open a new window and you should see your main drive listed. Then, click Mount Partition, this will require you to enter your system’s password. Once that is complete, simply click on Open Partition which will open a new window

There will already be an EFI in there but this is just Apple’s stock EFI partition which you will need to erase. You then want to open your OpenCore drive in which we have two different configurations; one for dual-socket systems and one for single-socket. The system that we are using for this install is dual-socket so we are going to select that one. We also have two sub-folders in there, one with “Updates on” and another with “Updates off”. Once the EFI drive has been blessed in recovery mode we can utilise the “Updates off” folder but for now, we need to go with the “Updates on” in order to download and upgrade to Catalina.

We then want to drag the “Updates on” EFI folder over to our newly partitioned EFI drive and wait for that to copy across. Once that is complete, we then need to shut the system down and boot into recovery mode.

Step 2

To boot into recovery mode, power your system on and simply hold Command + R until the system enters recovery mode.

Once in recovery mode, you’ll then need to navigate to the new EFI partition and bless the drive. To do so, navigate to Utilities and then Terminal. Once in Terminal, you’ll need to find the correct partition by typing “diskutil list” which will show all of the partitions but you can ignore most of them. The EFI partition is the one we’re looking for here and it is usually located at the top of the list. You’ll then need to note down the identifier, which in our case is “disk1s1”.

You will then need to scroll back down to the bottom of Terminal and enter the following command in order to mount the partition but make sure you replace the identifier with your own unique partition identifier:

“diskutil mount /dev/disk1s1”

This partition will now be mounted. The last step in this section requires you to bless the drive. To do so, simply input the following command.

“bless –mount /Volumes/EFI –setBoot” and then hit enter.

Once this is completed, you can go ahead and close Terminal and restart your Mac. Upon restart, instead of booting straight into macOS, you’ll be presented with the boot screen loader and you’ll be able to select which drive you want to boot from, all while running a standard graphics card without any EFI.

Step 3

Once you’ve loaded back into Mojave you can navigate over to System Preferences > Software Update and let your Mac check for updates. As with any regular OS update, Catalina should appear as an option to upgrade to, as it would if you were on a natively supported Catalina Mac.

Hit “Upgrade Now” and it will begin to download the Catalina DMG Installer straight to your Applications folder. Once that’s downloaded, navigate over to your Applications folder and double click the Catalina installer, it will then begin the regular installation process, exactly the same as any other Apple software update.

Once booted back up into macOS Catalina, in order to enable GPU acceleration we need to swap the “Updates on” EFI folder with the “Updates off” folder in the hidden EFI partition. Keep in mind that this will obviously turn off updates because unfortunately, you can not have updates turned on and GPU acceleration enabled at the same time. Any time, however, you need to install updates, these two files can simply be swapped in and out to suit your needs.

To turn updates off and enable GPU acceleration, open up the OpenCore Configurator application again, navigate to Tools, Mount EFI and then Mount Partition, just the same as Step 1. Open the partition and delete the current EFI folder that is found in the hidden partition. You may want to empty the trash as this is quite a small partition and there may not be enough space. Then, simply move the “Updates off” folder over to the partition, wait for it to copy and the process is complete, following a system restart.

Comments on this article (7)

  • Hello Mates,

    I need some help with my Mac Pro 3.1 with (Catalina OS).
    I bought a graphics card (Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB GDDR5) and installed it on my Mac but can’t get it to display 3 monitors, although am using all the direct outputs (Mac) to the corresponding inputs (monitors).
    With any configuration or by using adapters, I only get 2 monitors to work simultaneously.
    My question is, can this card display 3 monitors at all?

  • Hi, thanks for this important tutorial.
    I have 2 questions to ask you:
    1) once I have followed all this guide, can I clone (with Carbon Copy Cloner) the disk and put it on other computers?
    2) if I upgrade to Big Sur can I use the same EFI (off) to be replaced with EFI (ON) or do I need another one?
    Thanks

  • Hi George & Charles,
    Many thanks for this really well explained tutorial. I had already installed Catalina with the dosdude1 patcher but followed your instructions and it all went smoothly, right through to seamless installation of Big Sur which is running very smoothly.

    Couple of observations for others who might be following this route and who, like me, are not that savvy with IT –
    1) On mounting the EFI partition, there was no visible file in there, but I just dragged the Updates On file across as directed
    2) On initial reboot, Cmd+R just seemed to cause it to delay booting. I gave up holding the keys in the end and it just went straight into the boot picker screen and then into Catalina – picking the Recovery disk at the boot picker just went round in circles back to the boot picker screen. It booted fine into Catalina. Seemingly no need to bless the drive as it’s working fine?
    3) The Software Updater then prompted me to move the dosdude1 patcher to the trash which took a few goes, but then rewarded me with a 4GB Catalina update.
    4) Following Catalina update, it then prompted me to download Big Sur, installation of which seemed to go without a hitch. All hardware seems to be working fine and is installed on an SSD in PCI slot 4.

    Huge thanks to you both, I can’t believe it was this straightforward 🙂

  • Hi George & Charles,

    I recently used your open core catalina guide and files to install catalina onto my mac pro 2009 5.1 which worked as it should.

    I have just installed a flashed titan ridge into the system but when i boot the machine from the mac hd i get a no entry sign. if i select the EFI partition from the grey boot selector screen (which i did not have until the TR card was installed) i get the black boot selector screen (open core) and it will allow me to boot off the mac hd but the TR card is not recognised?

    Do i have to add or replace files into the EFI partition?

    Thanks in advance for any help!!

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