How to install El Capitan on a 1,1/2,1 Mac Pro

In my last article on how to flash the 1,1 Mac Pro to a 2,1 Mac Pro firmware I didn’t mention how to upgrade the operating system. The problem with the 1,1/2,1 (2006-2007) Mac Pro is that the latest officially supported operating system is Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. In this article I will explain how to put OS X 10.11 El Capitan on your 1,1/2,1 Mac Pro.

What you need:
• NVIDIA 8000 series graphics card or better.
The top graphics cards you can use are the NVIDIA 900 series or Maxwell Titan X.
Keep in mind that the use of a Maxwell NVIDIA card will require you to install and use their web drivers.
• ATI Radeon HD 2000 series graphics card or better.
The top graphics cards you can use are the AMD 200 series.
• A blank hard drive or partition available in your Mac Pro.
• RAM modules that are at least 2GB in size. 1GB or smaller RAM modules will cause issues.

First you will need to download the restore disk image of El Capitan (10.11.6) which you will need to install onto your hard drive of the 1,1/2.1 Mac Pro. To get the image click here. Now that you have the restore image it needs to be restored to your Mac Pro. There’s a few ways to go about this:
If you downloaded the image on your Mac Pro, use Disk Utility to restore it to the blank drive or partition you have reserved for El Capitan.
If you downloaded the image on another Mac, you can restore it to the Mac Pro’s empty drive or partition using Target Disk Mode.

If your Mac Pro currently has a functioning operating system on it, it is recommended you keep that drive/partition around as a fall back.
To restore the image to a drive or partition, do the following:

  1. Open up Disk Utility and click on the disk or partition you want to restore the El Capitan image to.
  2. Click ‘Restore’ in the top menu and select the image you downloaded in the ‘restore from’ box by clicking the image button on the right hand side.
  3. After you have selected the El Capitan image, click the restore button.
    This will take a while so you can go get a beverage of choice while this is happening. I suggest using an SSD as this will improve boot times on the Mac Pro once you are done.

Once the restore is done you can reboot the Mac Pro and hold down the Option key until you get the boot chooser screen. Pick the new copy of El Capitan you just restored and start up from it. That is all there is to it!

A couple of warnings once you have El Capitan running. It will say there are updates to install.
DO NOT INSTALL THE FOLLOWING UPDATE: “Security Update 2018-001” or any later Security Update, as this will break the installation and you will have to start over. The last security update you can safely install can be downloaded here. Once this is installed you can ignore all other security updates that apple throws at you. The best way to stop the nagging is to right click the update and click ‘ignore’. Other updates such as Safari etc. can be safely installed.

Thanks to Greg Hrutkay of Hrutkay Mods for the video on how to do this.

Thanks for reading and hope this helps you out.

3 thoughts on “How to install El Capitan on a 1,1/2,1 Mac Pro”

  1. Got a mac pro I flashed from 1,1 to 2,1

    4x4gb ram

    nvidia 8000 gpu (oem)

    applied your image and when I try to select the disk when holding option at boot, it just hangs at the disk selection screen forever.

    • Nic,

      Did you restore that image to your boot drive? You can’t just mount the image and boot from there. You have to use disk utility to restore that image. That is for El Cap only BTW. You can run ML on it with no problems.

  2. Nic,

    Did you restore that image to your boot drive? You can’t just mount the image and boot from there. You have to use disk utility to restore that image. That is for El Cap only BTW. You can run ML on it with no problems.

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