Just because Apple doesn’t want you to install OS X on a PC, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. There are numerous tools available to help you create an installer that will allow to install any version of OS X from Snow Leopard onwards on a non-Apple PC.
Before we start, we should tell you that Apple’s licence for OS X expressly forbids it being installed on anything other than a Mac, so if you choose to do it, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
What you'll need to run OS X on a PC
Before you start, there are a few things you’ll need. Firstly, you’ll need a compatible PC, the general rule is you’ll need a machine with a 64-bit Intel processor. You’ll also need a separate hard drive on which to install OS X, one which has never had Windows installed on it. If you want to run more than just the basic OS, you should have at least 50GB of free space on the drive.
In order to create the OS X installer, you’ll need a Mac on which to download it from the App Store. Any Mac capable of running El Capitan will do. And, finally, you’ll need a tool to create the installer, and a USB stick on which to put it. Make sure its 8GB or bigger. One of the most popular installer creation tools is Unibeast. It’s a free Mac app that creates an installer for OS X on a USB stick which is capable of being installed on an Intel PC. You’ll need to register on tonymacx.com to download it, but once you’ve done that you’re ready to go.
How to create the OS X Installer and install on a PC
1. On your Mac, go to the App Store, search for El Capitan, and download it. When it’s finished, it will automatically launch the installer. When it does this, press Command-q to quit. Check that the installer is in your Applications folder.
2. Go to tonymacx.com, register and download Unibeast. When it’s downloaded, install it as you would any other app.
3. Plug in the USB drive on which you want to install OS X and launch Disk Utility. Click on the Partition tab and leave the partition setting at one partition occupying the fully capacity of the drive. The Partition should be Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Give the partition a name. Click on options and make sure the partition scheme is set to ‘GUID Partition Table.’ When you’re ready, click Apply to start formatting the drive.
4. Launch Unibeast and, in the first window, select the USB drive you just formatted as the destination for the installer. Click Continue and step through the pages of the app until you come to the one that asks you to choose the OS you want to install. Click on El Capitan.
5. On the next page, you’ll be asked to choose between two boot modes, UEFI and Legacy. In most cases, you should choose UEFI. The exception PCs that have a motherboard that uses BIOS and not UEFI. If yours does, choose Legacy.
6. Once you’ve chosen the boot mode, you’ll be asked to specify your PC’s graphics card. If you have a PC with a recent Intel CPU, you can skip this step. It’s only necessary for PCs with graphics cards which aren’t compatible with OS X. If yours does, choose the option which best describes your graphics card.
7. When you click Continue, Unibeast will begin installing on your USB stick. It can take up to an hour, so you’ll need to be patient. In the meantime you can get your PC ready by unplugging all USB devices and removing any internal hard drives other than the one on which you want to install OS X. If your PC has integrated and discrete graphics cards, remove the discrete one. Finally, connect your monitor to your PC’s DVI port if it has one. This tends to work better than HDMI or VGA.
8. You’ll also need to set up the PC motherboard’s BIOS or UEFI. If your PC has a Gigabyte motherboard with BIOS, follow this guide. If it has a Gigabyte motherboard with UEFI, use this guide. If you don’t have a Gigabyte branded motherboard, follow the guide at step 5 here.
9. You’re now ready to begin the installation. Plug in the USB stick on which you installed Unibeast and restart your PC. It should now boot into Unibeast and give you the option of which drive to install from. Use your PC’s arrow keys to navigate to ‘External’ and press ‘Enter.’ The El Capitan installer should now start.
10. When it comes to selecting the drive onto which you want to install El Capitan, there may be no options to choose from. If that’s the case, click the Utilities menu and, when Disk Utility opens, choose the hard drive you want to install El Capitan on and click the Erase tab. Make sure Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is selected and the Scheme is set to GUID Partition Map, then click Erase. When the drive has erased, quit Disk Utility and the drive should be available to select from the installer.
11. Select the drive and step through the installer until El Capitan starts installing itself. After half and hour or so, it will finish. When it’s done, restart your PC, with the USB drive still plugged in. This time, the Unibeast boot menu will display the El Capitan boot disk. Select it and your PC sill boot into OS X.
Although you’re now running OS X on your PC, your work is not yet done. While the software will work, anything that require access to hardware, like wifi and sound, won’t. You’ll need to use a tool called Multibeast to configure your PC. You can find more about that here and how to use it here.
Installing OS X on a PC is a hack, hence the name Hackintosh. As such, it’s not officially supported by anyone. The guide above will work in most cases, if it doesn’t, you can find help here.
What about running OS X in a virtual machine?
The above method isn’t the only way to run OS X on a Windows PC, but it is the most straightforward and the most likely to be successful. You could, technically, install OS X as a virtual machine using an app like VMWare Fusion or the free Virtual Box. But to do that, you’d need a pirated and hacked version of OS X, and you’d need to find a Torrent to download it from. And once you’ve done that, the process isn’t any more simple than using the process above. Given the potential pitfalls of Torrenting a pirated distribution of OS X, it’s not a solution we’d recommend.