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My goal is to install Windows 7 on my (17-inch, Late 2011) MacBook Pro. The model identifier is MacBookPro8,3. The problem is the Windows 7 USB or DVD installer is not being recognized when holding down the alt/option key at startup.

This is where I am currently stuck:

I have tried to follow David Anderson's guide: No bootable device USB 2.0 MacBook Pro mid 2014

I get an error message when trying to load the bootcamp.vmdk file (step 7) enter image description here

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  • @nohillside: I voted to reopen this question because I would like to post an answer explaining how to install Windows 7 on this Mac without using the Boot Camp Assistant. The answers the OP is referencing in the question, comments and chat are legacy in nature with respect to the OP's Mac. This is because the Mac now has the firmware update included with a High Sierra install. The OP can now install Windows 7 without using a DVD or VirtualBox. The procedure is to long to be posted using comments or chat. I need to post an answer instead. May 16, 2022 at 9:16
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    @DavidAnderson go ahead then!
    – nohillside
    May 16, 2022 at 12:17

1 Answer 1

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When unable to install 64 bit Windows 7 by using the Boot Camp Assistant, many Mac users have turned to using VirtualBox or some other virtual machine software to aid in the installation. There are various procedures given here at Ask Different, as well as other websites. However, the use of a virtual machine may not be necessary, if your Intel Mac is a 2014 or older model and has had High Sierra or newer version of macOS installed.

Note: According to Apple, Windows 7 is suppose to include Service Pack 1 (SP1). Although, some users here a Ask Different have reported success by using Windows 7 without SP1. This answer assumes SP1 is included.

Below are the steps to follow.

  1. Make a partition for Windows 7.

    Create a partition at the end of the drive where Windows will be installed. Format the partition as ExFAT with the BOOTCAMP volume name. Later, the format will be changed to NTFS.

    The table below shows the expected partitions to appear in the output from the diskutil list command for disk0. If you have a different partition arrangement from the those shown, then you will have to make the appropriate adjustments to this answer.

    Table: Expected disk0 Partitions Based on Where macOS Is Installed

    Legacy Installation Current Installation
    Typical Drive Type HDD SSD
    Format of macOS Volume Mac OS Extended (Journaled) APFS
    Drive Partitions EFI,
    Apple_HFS or Apple_CoreStorage,
    Apple_Boot,
    Microsoft Basic Data
    EFI,
    Apple_APFS,
    Microsoft Basic Data
  2. ExFAT format a 16 GB flash drive.

    If the Disk Utility application is used to erase a drive, then refer to the table below.

    Table: Choices for Disk Utility Drive Erase*

    Label Entry or Selection
    Name WINSTALL
    Format ExFAT
    Scheme Master Boot Record
  3. Copy files to the flash drive.

    Use the following sources.

    • Mount a 64 bit Windows 10 ISO file and copy all files from the mounted volume to the flash drive. Here, I used the file Win10_21H2_English_x64.iso, which mounts as the volume labeled CCCOMA_X64FRE_EN-US_DV9.
    • Mount a 64 bit Windows 7 ISO and copy the file install.wim in the sources folder of mounted volume to the flash drive. Here, I used the file English_Windows_7_Professional_SP1_W64_X17-59186.iso, which mounts as the volume labeled GSP1RMCPRXFRER_EN_DVD.
    • Copy the Windows Support Software for 64 bit Windows 7 to the flash drive. According to the Apple website Install Windows 7 on your Mac using Boot Camp, the version of the Windows Support Software for installing 64 bit Windows 7 on your Mac is Boot Camp Support Software 5.1.5621. For other users, if a 64 bit version is not available, then try substituting the 32 bit version.
    • Copy the current Windows gdisk64.exe file from GPT fdisk SourceForge project. Currently, this is version 1.0.9 so the gdisk64.exe file would exist in the gdisk-windows-1.0.9.zip file, which can be downloaded from here.
    • Copy the Microsoft Edge Setup. Here, I used the file MicrosoftEdgeSetup.exe, which can be downloaded from this Microsoft website. Choose “Download for Windows 7”.
    • Create a folder named hotfixes on the flash drive. Goto the Microsoft Update Catalog and copy the files given in the following table to this hotfixes folder. Each file can be found by searching for the corresponding hotfix.

    Table: Hotfixes Available from Microsoft Update Catalog

    Hotfix Description File Name
    KB3020369 April 2015 servicing stack update for x64 Windows 7 windows6.1-kb3020369-x64_5393066469758e619f21731fc31ff2d109595445.msu
    KB3125574 Convenience rollup update for x64 Windows 7 SP1 windows6.1-kb3125574-v4-x64_2dafb1d203c8964239af3048b5dd4b1264cd93b9.msu
    KB4474419 SHA-2 code signing support update for x64 Windows 7: September 23, 2019 windows6.1-kb4474419-v3-x64_b5614c6cea5cb4e198717789633dca16308ef79c.msu
    KB4490628 Servicing stack update for x64 Windows 7 SP1: March 12, 2019 windows6.1-kb4490628-x64_d3de52d6987f7c8bdc2c015dca69eac96047c76e.msu
    KB5011649 Servicing stack update for x64 Windows 7 SP1: March 8, 2022 windows6.1-kb5011649-x86_fce83439d6e9707053b0db1a3eb21f5caedd2e7b.msu

    When finished, the USB flash drive should appear as follows.

    Table: Root Folder Contents of USB Flash Drive WINSTALL Volume.

    Folders Files
    From Windows 10 boot,
    efi,
    sources,
    support
    autorun.inf,
    bootmgr,
    bootmgr.efi,
    setup.exe
    From Windows 7 install.wim
    From Windows Support Software $WinPEDriver$,
    BootCamp
    AutoUnattend.xml
    From GPT fdisk gdisk64.exe
    From Microsoft Edge MicrosoftEdgeSetup.exe
    From Microsoft Update Catalog hotfixes

    Below is an image of the root folder of the WINSTALL volume on the USB flash drive.

  4. EFI boot from the USB flash drive.

    When an image similar to the one below appears, press the shift+F10 key combination to open a Command Prompt window.

  5. Hybrid partition the disk where Windows 7 is to be installed.

    Enter the commands below.

    Note: The command diskpart is interactive.

    diskpart
    list volume
    

    View the Ltr column for drive letter and Label column for volume label. Here I assume letter C is the drive letter assigned to the BOOTCAMP volume and letter D is assigned to the WINSTALLL volume. If your lettering is different, then make the appropriate substitutions. Next, enter the command below to get information on the volume assigned to the drive letter C.

    select volume c
    detail volume
    

    View the Disk ### column to get drive number for the internal drive where Windows is to be installed. Here I assume the number is 0. If your number is different, then make the appropriate substitutions. Next, format the volume where Windows 7 is to be installed as NTFS, then hybrid partition the disk where Windows 7 is to be installed. Note, the parameter to gdisk is 0:. If your drive number is different, then make the appropriate substitution.

    format quick label=BOOTCAMP fs=ntfs
    exit
    d:\gdisk64 0:
    

    Choose which table below applies to your Mac, then enter the data in the first column.

    Table: Entries for gdisk64 When disk0 has an Apple_HFS or Apple_CoreStorage Partition

    User Entry Type Comment
    r command Switch to recovery and transformation options menu.
    h command Make hybrid MBR.
    2 3 4 parameters GPT partition numbers to be added to the hybrid MBR.
    y parameter Place EFI GPT (0xEE) partition first in MBR?
    af or ac parameter MBR hex code for MBR partition #2.
    Use af for Apple_HFS.
    Use ac for Apple_CoreStorage.
    n parameter Set the bootable flag for MBR partition #2?
    ab parameter MBR hex code for MBR partition #3.
    n parameter Set the bootable flag for MBR partition #3?
    07 parameter MBR hex code for MBR partition #4.
    y parameter Set the bootable flag for MBR partition #4?
    p command (Optional) Print the partition table.
    o command (Optional) Print protective MBR data.
    w command Write table to disk and exit.
    y parameter OK to proceed with write and exit?

    Table: Entries for gdisk64 When disk0 Has an Apple_APFS Partition

    User Entry Type Comment
    r command Switch to recovery and transformation options menu.
    h command Make hybrid MBR.
    2 3 parameters GPT partition numbers to be added to the hybrid MBR.
    y parameter Place EFI GPT (0xEE) partition first in MBR?
    ff parameter MBR hex code for MBR partition #2.
    n parameter Set the bootable flag for MBR partition #2?
    07 parameter MBR hex code for MBR partition #3.
    y parameter Set the bootable flag for MBR partition #3?
    n parameter Protect more partitions?
    p command (Optional) Print the partition table.
    o command (Optional) Print protective MBR data.
    w command Write table to disk and exit.
    y parameter OK to proceed with write and exit?
  6. Install Windows 7.

    Enter the first command below to get the names of the various Windows 7 images available. I chose to install Windows 7 Professional. The second command installs the Windows 7 image to the BOOTCAMP volume. If you choose a different image, then make the appropriate name substitution in the second command. Note: This command takes a while to complete.

    dism /get-imageinfo /imagefile:d:\install.wim
    dism /apply-image /imagefile:d:\install.wim /name:"Windows 7 Professional" /applydir:c:\ /checkintegrity
    

    The next command copies drivers to the driver store in the BOOTCAMP volume. If one to more drivers can not be added at this time, then one or more error messages will be generated. You can ignore these messages.

    dism /image:c:\ /add-driver /driver:d:\$WinPEDriver$ /recurse /forceunsigned
    
  7. Make Windows 7 bootable.

    The commands below write out the necessary data to make Windows 7 bootable, then closes the Command Prompt window.

    bcdboot c:\windows /l en-us /s c: /f bios
    bootsect /nt60 c: /mbr
    exit
    

    Select the red box with the white X. In the popup windows, select the Yes button to quit. The Mac will restart.

  8. Complete the setup of Windows 7.

    Make Windows 7 the default to startup from either the Mac Startup Manager or from the Startup Disk pane of macOS System Preferences.

    Boot the Mac to Windows 7. At this point, an external mouse and/or keyboard may be needed temporarily. Also, the on–screen keyboard can be temporarily substituted for an actual keyboard. To access the on–screen keyboard, select the Ease of access button shown in the lower left of the window in the image below.

    Follow the instructions on the screen to finish setting up Windows 7.

    Note: When you reach the screen shown below, select Ask me later.

  9. Install additional software.

    Once the setup of Windows 7 is complete, execute the Boot Camp Installer Version 5.1 (Build 5621) by opening the setup application in the BootCamp folder on the WINSTALL volume. This volume resides on the USB flash drive. The Boot Camp Installer will install additional drivers for your Mac's hardware.

    After the Boot Camp Installer has completed and the Mac has restarted, use the Apple Software Update application to get any new software available from Apple. Note the following:

    • You should install any updates to Apple Software Update first before installing other updates available from Apple.
    • You may need to download only, then manually install downloads.
    • You may need to copy any downloads before Apple Software Update deletes the downloads.
    • iTunes appears to be incompatible, so you may want to skip any iTunes updates.

    Install the hoxfixes in the hoxfixes folder on the WINSTALL volume. This volume resides on the USB flash drive. Some of these hotfixes are required before installing Microsoft Edge. These hotfixes are also needed to get Windows Update to work. Install the hoxfixes in the following order.

    windows6.1-kb3020369-x64_5393066469758e619f21731fc31ff2d109595445.msu
    windows6.1-kb3125574-v4-x64_2dafb1d203c8964239af3048b5dd4b1264cd93b9.msu
    windows6.1-kb4474419-v3-x64_b5614c6cea5cb4e198717789633dca16308ef79c.msu
    windows6.1-kb4490628-x64_d3de52d6987f7c8bdc2c015dca69eac96047c76e.msu
    windows6.1-kb5011649-x86_fce83439d6e9707053b0db1a3eb21f5caedd2e7b.msu
    

    Install Microsoft Edge by opening the MicrosoftEdgeSetup application on the WINSTALL volume. This volume resides on the USB flash drive. Afterwards, you may wish to visit the Control Panel to set Microsoft Edge as default. In other words, use Microsoft Edge to open all file types and protocols it can open by default.

    When finish goto the Windows Update screen shown below and choose your settings, then download and install all currently available updates shown.


Other References

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  • After looking for and trying solutions for nearly a month, this solution WORKED! Thank you so much @DavidAnderson !! I needed to install .NET framework version 4 in order for windows update to work, which I found here: microsoft.com/en-US/download/details.aspx?id=17718 May 21, 2022 at 16:49
  • I have a problem with graphics drivers in Windows 7. It only recognizes the ATI Radeon graphics card but not the internal intel GPU. I ran the complete bootcamp support drivers and I also choose the specific bootcamp support software driver for intel graphics, but the intel gpu does not appear in the device manager at all. In mac osx they both appear and I can choose either of them. May 22, 2022 at 12:05
  • I am unaware of any Intel Mac models were you can change which graphics Windows uses. Someone else may be aware. You could post this concern as new question. Perhaps, you may need to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Or, use a different set of drivers from what you currently have. Apple has documented the existence of at least three other Windows Support Software downloads for your MacBookPro8,3 model. Although, the other downloads may not be Windows 7 compatible. I have also seen where new graphics drivers are downloaded and installed from Apple Software Update and/or Windows Update. May 22, 2022 at 13:04
  • When I installed windows 10 on the machine it recognized the built in intel graphics card but not the radeon graphics card. Now it's the other way around in windows 7. In mac terminal you can switch between the graphics cards, I was wondering if command prompt had a similar option. I will try and search for a solution. Anyway if there is no solution I am happy with the win 7 outcome. May 26, 2022 at 6:44
  • If you have the disk space, you could install both Windows 7 and Windows 10. When booting Windows, the boot manager included with Windows 10 will allow you to select which Windows to boot. May 26, 2022 at 8:35

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