Ask LH: How Do I Upgrade My Hackintosh To Mac OS X Lion?

Ask LH: How Do I Upgrade My Hackintosh To Mac OS X Lion?

Dear Lifehacker, I really want to try out OS X Lion, but I have a Hackintosh I built using one of your guides. I’m scared to just update it normally; is there anything special I have to do? Sincerely,Looking Forward to Lion

Photo remixed from an original by Eric Kilby.

Dear Looking,

Upgrading to Lion is easy, but it will get a little confused if you try to install it on a Hackintosh. Luckily, it’s still fairly simple, as long as you have the right tools. Here’s how to upgrade a Tonymacx86-based Hackintosh (like the ones in our recent guides) to OS X Lion. These instructions come straight from Tonymac himself, and I’ve tested it on my machine and it worked like a charm.

What You’ll Need

Before you start the process, you’ll want to make sure you have:

  • An Intel Core 2 or above 64-bit CPU (required for Lion)
  • The Lion installer from the Mac App Store.
  • 8GB free space on your hard drive
  • A system defined as a Mac Pro 3,1. You can check this by going to System Profiler and looking under “Model Identifier” on the main page. If it’s something other than MacPro3,1, you can use Multibeast to change it. Just look for MacPro3,1 under customisation > Definitions > Mac Pro.
  • The latest version of the Chimera bootloader from Tonymac. If you’re using Chameleon, you can use Multibeast to replace it with Chimera under Drivers & Bootloaders > Bootloaders.
  • Tonymacx86’s xMove tool

Step One: Prepare Your Drive for Lion

Before you do anything, back up your computer. Use Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner to back up your Snow Leopard partition just in case something goes wrong. You’ll also want to remove any kexts that are usually incompatible between updates (SleepEnabler leaps to mind) before you begin.

Boot into Snow Leopard and open up the Lion installer you downloaded from the Mac App Store. Click Continue on the first screen, then choose your Snow Leopard partition and hit Install. This won’t install Lion right away, it’s just going to install the necessary files (if only it were that simple). When it’s done, reboot your computer as prompted.

Step Two: Create the Installer Partition


Because Lion doesn’t come on a DVD, it creates an installer partition that you can use to recover your computer in case something goes wrong. On a Hackintosh, it gets confused as to where this partition should be, so we need to create it ourselves. Open up Disk Utility from /Applications/Utilities and highlight the drive containing Snow Leopard in the left sidebar. Click the Partition tab.

Hit the plus sign to add a new partition and name it Installer. Size it up to 8GB and click Apply. Then, close Disk Utility.

Step Three: xMove

Here’s where the special tricks come in: download Tonymac’s xMove program and start it up. Click the “Change Install Location” button and choose the Installer partition as your destination (NOT your Snow Leopard partition), and hit Continue. This will move Lion’s installation files to that new partition. When it’s done, reboot your computer.

Step Four: Install Lion

When you restart, the Lion installer should come up in the Chimera boot menu. Pick that as your option and you’ll boot into the OS X installer, from which you can update your Snow Leopard partition normally. Once you’re done, you should have Lion installed on your Hackintosh! You may have to re-run Multibeast afterwards and roll back a few kexts, depending on your hardware, but if you’ve been keeping your Hackintosh up to date thus far, it won’t be anything new. Check out Tonymac’s blog post on Lion for more information, and good luck!


P.S. Hit any roadblocks or have any important notes from your own Lion update? Help each other out in the comments.


  • I upgraded my Hackintosh to Lion the day it came out, and have used the previous dev previews to make sure all my things work. I had to change my audio kext, but found another one easy. Apart from that, it’s been a real breeze for me 🙂
    However, my WiFi adapter client software doesn’t like Lion and tends to delete saved passwords and profiles for WiFi hotspots whenever I restart…but that’s me using outdated hardware.
    AND. The most annoying part I had about Lion was that it didn’t recognise my ethernet port automatically, unlike past OS X versions. This meant that the Mac App Store couldn’t identify and authorise my computer for app purchases, which drove me bonkers. The solution for me was to manually install the Lnx2Mac Realtek kexts that supports realtek ethernet ports, and then rename the service in Network Preferences to “Ethernet (en0)”. The most important part is to have the (en0) part, otherwise it can’t identify your computer.
    Intel Core 2 Quad 8200
    3GB RAM
    G31M-ES2L rev.1
    NETGEAR WG111v2

  • When I “install” chimera bootloader via multibeast, I restart the computer, only to be greeted by the same old chameleon bootloader 🙁 is there something I’m missing out? Is there a way to initiate the chimera bootloader or something? :/ thanks in advanced 🙂

  • I’m stumped. The App Store refuses to allow me to purchase Lion. It keeps giving me the error “This version of Mac OS X 10.7 cannot be installed on this computer”.

    I did the lifehacker install for snow leopard using all of the components (Gigabyte GA45-UD3P, Nvidia 9800 GTX, etc.) and am still running the same version of Chameleon that came with that guide. I’m running SL 10.6.8 and have been trouble free ever since. I have the Intel Q9550 Quad Core Processor, which is currently over clocked to 3.1 Ghz.

    Has anyone else had this issue??? I’d be satisfied with SL, were it not for iOS 5 and iCloud, which do not play nice with SL.

    • I’m having a similar issue with purchasing Lion from the app store on my Real Mac Mini with the board id macmini1,1 in spite of the fact that my mini has a core 2 duo 1.86 GHz CPU installed. is there a way to fool the app store so I can purchase Lion without having to buy the way overpriced usb installer?

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