Is It Legal to Build a Hackintosh?

build a hackintosh

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A Hackintosh involves any type of desktop or notebook computer (non-Apple) that has a MAC Operating System (Mac OS) installed.  It’s pretty cool because it is not all that difficult to actually build a Hackintosh. What makes it even easier is that there are hundreds of different online sources that can provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to actually create your very own Hackintosh.

But, why would you want to run such a thing in the first place?

There’s the sheer economics part. We all know that Apple computers are not as affordable as Windows-based computers. So, if you are looking to run a Mac for whatever reason, and you don’t want to pay the high price tag, this is a pretty good alternative. In fact, and in most cases, the Hackintosh will perform flawlessly – provided that the parts are all Intel-based. In other words, using the same basic components that Apple does.

But does it look different at all?

Not at all. Remember, you would be installing the very same OS that you would use on a Mac. All you are really doing with the non-Apple computer is fooling the OSX that you are installing it on an Apple–based device, when in fact you are not.

build a hackintosh

Any idea how hard this is to do? I’ve already mentioned that you can access countless tutorials online to walk you through the entire process. Is it easy? This can only be answered by the amount of knowledge you have about computers in general and how well you grasp technology. There are going to be a lot of drivers and hacks involved to get it up and running. For example, it takes an average of a full day or two to get everything operating and to confirm that all peripherals are working correctly and are current.

But keep this in mind: if you are an average Joe, and we don’t mean this to be mean in any way possible, you are not going to be able to do it.

This brings us back to our original question on the Hackintosh: Is it legal?

Well, not really. To begin with, you will have breached the contract of the use of any Mac OS and you would have also violated copyright laws.

Are there any exceptions to this?

Before I get into the answer to that, I want to make it clear that I am not encouraging you to break any laws. So, I want you to understand that what I am going to share is in no way intended as an encouragement to violate any law related to the Mac OS. I am just stating that there is an option.

I’m going to explain it with an example. Let’s assume that you have an older laptop that you are going to be tossing out along with a legitimately purchased copy of the Mac OSX. It can be an older version as well. In this instance, I see no problem with wanting to experiment a little bit – just out of curiosity, you know? – as long as you have no intentions of using it for distribution or publicity purposes. In other words, goofing around on your personal computer, in the privacy of your home and just for your own personal use, why not give it a whirl?

Here’s what I would offer as encouragement to attempt to build a Hackintosh: If you are into this kind of stuff, doing this would make for a great home experiment. You will pick up some technical skills and may even choose to become a security tester (hacker). Doesn’t that sound like a great way to make some money…as a career hacker?

This would be the only reason that I would make an exception to the entire process. If you are unsure, worried about whether or not you can get the thing running even by following the guides you’ve downloaded from the internet or the thought of breaching copyright laws frighten you slightly, I would say just don’t do it. You don’t need that kind of stress hanging around you.

However, I do want to point out that we really do live in a rather amazing time. We have access to all this technology that keeps changing. It gives us the opportunity to live in a connected world where we can test and experiment a little bit as well as staying safe and legal in the process.

This post was written by Yevgeniy Kapishon. He is a data recovery engineer at ADRS® Aesonlabs Data Recovery Systems, blogger and a hardcore techno enthusiast living in Toronto, Canada. In his free time, he likes to wander and explore the back alleys of his neighborhood with his best friend aka Cat by the name of Benjamin.

Picture of Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

8 thoughts on “Is It Legal to Build a Hackintosh?

  1. Listen to the discouragement advice he gives. My friend made a Hackintosh, he’s very advanced and not only did it take him days to make it work, it had ongoing compatibility problems, he kept having to upgrade hardware. In the end he saved very little. In actuality, configuring any computer to be equivalent to a Mac will cost the same. The “cheaper” PCs are such only because they leave out a variety of components and use parts not equivalent to Mac. If money is that much of an issue, buy a Mac Mini.

    1. You are correct. Sometimes the hardware is just not compatible, and would definitely suck to figure that out somewhere halfway into the installation.

      I have seen this happen.

  2. Go in t it with the right mentality and one can learn a great deal from hackintoshing. I learned more in two years about macOS in two years of hackintoshing than two decades as a Mac user.

  3. Surprise! Serious Hackintosh users exists and they buy plenty of apple overpriced products, services and third-party products.

    Bad experience? RTFM. I’ve been helping a friend with his studio hackintosh for 10 years. Smooth install? Far from it. But once you get it working and keep a single rule: never update the OS without a backup and compatibility check, you will never go back.

    Why? Because the prices are ridiculous and hardware upgrades impossible.

    1. It’s true, good point. As Michael K already pointed out, probably better off buying a Mac Mini.

  4. Pastrychef is the man.. helped me and many others in the forum fixing our buggy hx…
    Big creds to him! 🙂

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