MacOS – mount the root (system) filesystem as writable in Big Sur

big surmacos

After updating to big sur, I can no longer mount the root as writable (even with SIP disabled):

sudo mount -uw /
mount_apfs: volume could not be mounted: Permission denied
mount: / failed with 66

How can I fix this?

Best Answer

DISCLAIMER: have a good backup and plan to erase and reinstall your Mac from the internet before trying this procedure. A mistake can prevent your system from starting without assistance.

  1. Disable FileVault
  2. Reboot into recovery mode and run:
    csrutil authenticated-root disable
  3. Reboot back into MacOS
  4. Find your root mount's device - run mount and chop off the last s, e.g. if your root is /dev/disk1s2s3, you'll mount /dev/disk1s2
  5. Create a new directory, for example ~/mount
    mkdir -p -m777 ~/mount
  6. Run sudo mount -o nobrowse -t apfs DISK_PATH MOUNT_PATH, using the values from above
    sudo mount -o nobrowse -t apfs /dev/disk1s2 ~/mount
  7. Modify the files under the mounted directory
  8. Run sudo bless --folder MOUNT_PATH/System/Library/CoreServices --bootefi --create-snapshot
  9. Reboot your system, and the changes will take place