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I am trying to install Windows 8.1 on my 2011 iMac. I have the latest version of El Capitan installed.

That may not seem hard, cause I could just use Bootcamp right? Well, wrong. I can't really use bootcamp, because it doesn't give me the ability to create a bootable USB drive.

I know there is a way to work around this by changing the .plist file inside the bootcamp app. But I spoke with apple support staff, and they say that those system files are now patched, and not editable anymore.

So I used another computer to make a bootable usb drive, but unfortunately Bootcamp doesn't recognize that USB drive.

After that I tried burning the ISO file on a DVD, but bootcamp won't recognize that either. (I think that may possibly be because there may be a problem with the superdrive in my iMac)

So the problem here is that Bootcamp doesn't recognize anything bootable I create, wether it's a USB drive or a DVD it won't be recognized.

I also can't install Windows using the function of Bootcamp that allows you to install it using only an ISO file on the computer, because the version of bootcamp that is installed on my iMac also doesn't have that function.

Can anyone help me? I'd rather not use any 3rd party ways to install Windows, I like using Bootcamp. Thanks in advance!

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Maybe this might help:

  1. boot to recovery (pressing command + r when starting your Mac)
  2. in 'recovery tools' -> open Terminal
  3. run "csrutil disable" (without the quotation marks)
  4. restart

Before opening info.plist, you have to change the "permissions" of the map "Contents" and the file: add your username and change it to read and write. Do the same for the file info.plist. Execute these steps:

  1. Open the bootcamp package contexts and modify the info.plist file
  2. Delete the "Pre" in PreUSBBootSupportedModels
  3. Save the file and reopen bootcamp

I hope this will help.

PS. Afterwards you can boot to recovery again and secure the files again by opening Terminal in 'recovery tools' and run "csrutil enable" (without quotation marks)

PPS. I am currently working with macOS Sierra version 10.12.4.

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Make and download the ISO file on the media creation tool from the Microsoft website on a Windows computer, then try and it will work. I promise this will work, when on the creation, click you want to make the USB for another computer and it will prepare the device for you.

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Generally, if your Mac has a optical drive, then the firmware does not have the ability to install Windows using a USB drive. I have a 21.5-inch mid 2011 iMac and for this model I know this to be true. You should know if your optical drive works, if you use it to burn the DVD. I believe the DVD is verified after burning. (I have yet to verify this under El Capitan).

There are ways to install Windows directly from the iso file, but this requires the use of third party software. Although, this software does not actually install Windows, but rather is used to transfer the files stored in the Windows iso file and "Boot Camp Support Software" to the Boot Camp partition.

The Boot Camp Assistant can still be use to download the "Boot Camp Support Software" to a USB drive for Windows 8/8.1. In the case of my iMac, this is the same software that can be download directly from the Apple's Windows 7 drivers Web site.

In case your wondering, I is very possible to run Windows 10 on your Mac. I am currently doing so on both my 2007 and 2011 iMacs.

  • I am aware Windows 10 works on my mac (I have installed it on my Macbook Pro, there were no problems there), but I am trying to install Windows 8.1 because I have a license for that. Anyway the problem with my iMac seems to be that the bootcamp version installed on my computer only seems to be able to use USB drives, which it apparently is not. Every time I insert a bootable USB drive it will say that I have to place a USB drive, and it does the same with a DVD. O and I guess my superdrive is broken, also because it gives an error after burning a DVD. – Johan Mar 18 '16 at 19:14
  • If you install and activate Windows 8.1, then you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. You will not need a Product Key to do the upgrade. After upgrading, will be able to erase, reload and activate Windows 10 for free in the future. – David Anderson Mar 18 '16 at 23:27
  • If your superdrive does not work, then either you will have to replace it or use a compatible external DVD drive. You can not use a USB drive. Technically, it is possible to install Windows without a DVD or USB drive. The process is tedious. The procedure for Windows 7 is given here. I can update the procedure for Windows 8 or 10, if you wish. I can not for Widows 8.1, because I do not have a Product Key for that version. – David Anderson Mar 18 '16 at 23:34
  • I was indeed planning on installing windows 10 after I installed 8.1, the problem seems to be though, that bootcamp wants to use a usb drive while it is not supported, but I'll try some other things, thanks for answering anyway! – Johan Mar 19 '16 at 14:19
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Non-Retina MacBook Pros cannot boot anything other than the Mac OS from a USB stick. This is a limitation in the firmware and there is unfortunately nothing you can do about it.

If your optical drive is broken, you can use a USB optical drive. They are pretty cheap. But since your computer shipped with an optical drive, you MUST use an optical drive to install Windows. There's just no way around it.

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These steps worked for me:

  1. Open the bootcamp package contexts and modify the info.plist file
  2. Delete the "Pre" in <key>PreUSBBootSupportedModels</key>
  3. Save the file and reopen bootcamp
  • I know that was an option before El Capitan, but after that time those system files are secured and can't be changed. – Johan Nov 21 '16 at 17:53

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