Follow these steps to perform a clean installation of OS X 10.11 El Capitan on your ThinkPad X220 or X220 Tablet.

A guide to install macOS Sierra Public Beta 10.12 on the X220 is available here.

  • A brief video demonstrating OS X 10.11 El Capitan running on the X220 can be viewed here.
  • If you already have OS X 10.10 Yosemite on your X220 we recommend doing a clean installation of El Capitan, not an update from the existing installation.
  • See the guide here to install OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the ThinkPad X220.
  • See the guide here to dual-boot OS X and Windows.
  • Please use the contact form below if you find anything that isn’t accurate.


  1. Update the BIOS with the official Lenovo BIOS version 1.42 available here: Windows 1.42 Update Utility orBootable 1.42 CD Image
  2. Install the modified BIOS version 1.42 to remove the whitelist check and permit the installation of an OS X compatible wifi card. This modified BIOS will also enable advanced settings and improve battery life under OS X.
    MD5: 282fa6399d0e96f9752ff949ed90adca
    – Stock wifi cards in the X220 are not compatible with OS X
    – Recommended half-height Mini PCIe wifi cards that require no configuration whatsoever and will work automatically in OS X: Dell DW1515 and Dell DW1510 (optional steps to rebrand a DW1510 as Apple AirPort Extreme available here)
    – For 802.11ac + Bluetooth as well as Continuity/Handoff/AirDrop support, the AzureWave AW-CE123Hcard will work by following the steps in the guide here. Note that it will not be possible to boot from the standard USB installer with this card installed; only install this card after the OS X installation is complete and the necessary modifications have been made.
    – Various other Mini PCIe and USB wifi adapters compatible with OS X are listed here
  3. Press F1 at starup to adjust the BIOS settings as follows:
    – Restart > Load Setup Defaults
    – Config > Power > Power On with AC Attach > Disabled
    – Config > Serial ATA (SATA) > AHCI

    – Security > Memory protection > Execution Prevention > Enabled
    – Startup > UEFI/Legacy Boot > Both
  4. Download the Install OS X El Capitan app from the App Store
  5. Insert an 8GB or larger USB disk
  6. Open Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility
    If you are using Disk Utility under OS X Yosemite or earlier:
    – Select the USB disk in the left pane and select the Partition tab
    – Select  Partition Layout and then choose 1 Partition
    – Select Options… and select GUID Partition Table
    – Under Name: type USB
    – Under Format: select Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    – Click Apply and then Partition
    Disk UtilityIf you are using Disk Utility under OS X El Capitan:
    – Select the USB disk in the left pane (select the physical disk, not a volume on the disk)
    – Click the Erase button
    – Under Name: type USB
    – Under Format: select Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    – Under Scheme select GUID Partition Map
    – Click Erase
    Disk Utility El Capitan
  7. Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal and enter the following command:
    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --volume /Volumes/USB --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --no interaction
  8. Enter your password when prompted
  9. After approximately 25-35 minutes the process will finish and the USB will be renamed Install OS X El Capitan (wait for the “copy complete” message in the Terminal before continuing)
  10. Download the ThinkPad X220 OS X El Capitan Utility and Kext Pack and place a copy on your installation USB
  11. Launch Clover Configurator from the Utility and Kext Pack and click the Check Partition button to identify the disk number of assigned to your USB (it will probably be /dev/disk1 or /dev/disk2)
  12. Click the Mount EFI partition button and select the disk number of your USB as identified in the previous step (the disk number will be followed by s1, for example disk1s1)
  13. Quit Clover Configurator and copy the entire EFI folder from the Utility and Kext Pack to the EFI partition of your USB, replacing the existing folder if present.
    The EFI partition on your USB should now contain a single folder named EFI that contains two folders: BOOT and CLOVER. It should look like this:
  14. Eject your USB
  15. Disconnect any external monitors or other devices and place the USB drive in a USB 2.0 port of your ThinkPad X220. Press F12 at startup to select the USB as your boot drive
  16. Use the arrow keys to select Boot OS X Install from Install OS X El Capitan at the Clover bootloader menu and press Enter
  17. Select your desired language, launch Disk Utility then select your target drive and click Erase
  18. Name the target drive Macintosh HD, select OS X Extended (Journaled) format, GUID Partition Map scheme and click Erase
  19. After the erase process finishes, quit Disk Utility, select Install OS X and follow the prompts to do a standard OS X installation on your target drive
  20. The install process may appear to hang at the end with “About a second remaining.” Just wait – it may take up to an hour finish (if the screen dims you can press a key to wake it)
  21. The computer will eventually restart. When it does, press F12 to select the USB as your boot drive and then select Boot Mac OS X from Macintosh HD at the Clover bootloader menu.
    (If Macintosh HD does not show in the menu just select the Install OS X El Capitan drive again – the installer sometimes triggers a reboot to complete the installation process)
  22. Complete the guided OS X setup
  23. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy and select Allow apps downloaded from: Anywhere
  24. Launch Clover Configurator from the Utility and Kext Pack and click the Check Partition button to identify the disk number of Macintosh HD (it will probably be disk0)
  25. Click the Mount EFI partition button and select the disk number of Macintosh HD as identified in the previous step
  26. The EFI partition for Macintosh HD should now be mounted and show in the sidebar under Devices when you open a Finder window
  27. Quit Clover Configurator
  28. Copy the folders named BOOT and CLOVER from the EFI folder in the Utility and Kext Pack to the EFI folder on the EFI partition of Macintosh HD.
    The EFI partition should now contain a single folder named EFI that contains three folders named APPLE, BOOT and CLOVER. It should look like this:
  29. Open Utility and Kext Pack > EFI > CLOVER > kexts and launch the script entitled _kext-install.command
  30. Enter your password when prompted and wait for the script to install the kexts
  31. Eject the installation USB and restart the computer
  32. Install any system updates available through the App Store and take a moment to read through the Notes and Suggestions section below
  33. Recommended additional steps to improve battery life with optimized CPU power management:
    1. Confirm that you have an active connection to the Internet
    2. Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal then copy and paste the following command in the Terminal window and hit Enter:
      curl -o ~/
    3. Next, paste this command in the Terminal window and hit Enter:
      chmod +x ~/
    4. Finally, paste this command in the Terminal window and hit Enter:
    5. Answer ‘N’ to the questions about copying and opening the ssdt files
    6. A customized SSDT.aml for your specific machine will now be in the /Users/yourusername/Library/ssdtPRGen directory
      (quickly access this directory in the Finder by holding the Option key (Windows key) while selecting the Go menu and then selecting Library)
    7. Copy SSDT.aml to /Volumes/EFI/EFI/CLOVER/ACPI/patched/
      (you may need to run Clover Configurator to mount the EFI partition)
    8. Run the Kext Utility app to repair permissions and rebuild the system cache, then restart the computer


Notes and Suggestions

  • User Reviews of this Guide
  • General Suggestions
    • Do not encrypt your boot drive with FileVault. Doing so will prevent the system from booting correctly.
    • Keep your El Capitan installation USB on hand. After installing OS X system updates it is sometimes necessary to boot the system with the USB and re-install kexts to get everything working properly again.
    • Use Clover Configurator if you need to mount the EFI partition or make modifications to the providedconfig.plist
    • If a kernel panic occurs, boot from the installation USB, select the installation drive, hit the space bar and select Boot Mac OS X in safe mode to successfully boot and make necessary changes.
    • If the installation process created Macintosh HD as a logical volume rather than a physical volume, you can revert it back to normal by opening Applications > Utilities > Terminal and entering the following two commands:
      • diskutil cs list
      • diskutil coreStorage revert lvUUID
        (replace lvUUID with the last logical volume id string reported by the first Terminal command).
  • Touchpad, TrackPoint and Tablet Input
    • Touchpad and TrackPoint use RehabMan’s VoodooPS2Controller.kext found here.
    • Turn off the touchpad with the <PrtSc> key if you will only be using the TrackPoint – this will prevent an issue with unintentional double-clicks with the TrackPoint buttons.
    • Touchpad supports three-finger swipe right and left (forward and back) in Finder, Safari and other browsers
    • For X220 Tablet models, pen input should already work properly. For touch input, installControllerMate and use the script written by user jakibaki available here. Jakibaki’s script also adds some gestures including swipe from top to get Mission Control, swipe from bottom for Launchpad and swipe from left/right to switch workspaces.
  • Special Keys
    • The <PrtSc> key toggles the touchpad on and off
    • The <ScrLk> and <Pause> keys adjust screen brightness as do the standard <Fn>+<Home> and <Fn>+<End> keys
    • The <Insert> key will eject the CD/DVD drive (attached by USB or docking station)
    • The blue ThinkVantage button will toggle between normal fan speeds and the maximum fan speed
  • Fan Speed and Noise
    • Fan speeds can be reduced by installing the alternate dsdt.aml and ACPIPoller.kext available here
    • Fan noise can also be regulated by changing the BIOS setting under Config > Power > Adaptive Thermal Management to Balanced
  • Video / External Displays
    • To enable scaled resolutions of 1536 x 864 and 1920 x 1080 on the stock LCD panel, follow the steps described here
    • Video output through VGA, DisplayPort and docking stations works normally for single external monitor configurations (internal LCD + one external monitor)
    • If an external monitor is not automatically detected, open System Preferences > Displays and press theOption key (the Windows key on the X220 keyboard). This will show a Detect Displays button which should make the external monitor show up immediately.
    • If DisplayPort or VGA connections on Core i7 systems do not function properly:
      • Launch Clover Configurator and mount the EFI partition of your installation drive
      • Click File > Open… then select EFI > EFI > CLOVER > config.plist
      • Select SMBIOS in the left panel and click the “magic wand” button on the right
      • Select the MacBook Pro image (second image from the left) and then select MacBook Pro (8,1) – Core i5/i7 (Sandy Bridge) from the pulldown menu at the top
      • Click the OK button and then File > Save to write the changes to your config.plist
      • Restart the computer
  • Miscellaneous
    • To enable docking station headphone and microphone ports, use the alternate AppleHDA_20672.kextavailable here. Simply place this alternate version in Utility and Kext Pack > EFI > CLOVER > kexts > Otherand repeat steps 29-31 above.
    • DW1510 wireless cards can be rebranded to identify as native Apple AirPort Extreme cards by following the steps here
    • SuperDuper is an excellent free utility to create a full, bootable backup of your drive that can be restored later if necessary
    • HWSensors provides a convenient way to monitor the status of your system from the menu bar
    • If the Bluetooth radio is turned off in Windows or Linux it may no longer show up when booting into OS X. Boot back into Windows or Linux to turn the Bluetooth radio back on.
    • If FaceTime or Messages (iMessage) does not work correctly, follow the steps in the guide here (use the MacBookPro8.1 SMBIOS profile in step 4)
    • Custom “OS X220” desktop wallpaper by user Will is available here
  • Sources / Credits
    • Original source of modified BIOS 1.42 is here
    • Included dsdt.aml, config.plist and kext installation script are from the ThinkPad T420 guide foundhere
    • Guide to editing dsdt.aml with MaciASL can be found here
    • Custom ssdt.aml script source is here
  • Not functioning
    • SD Card reader
    • Fingerprint reader
    • Microphone mute button