Nov 29, 2017 If you have a newer Mac, there is no physical option to install Mac OS versions older than your current Mac model. For instance, if your MacBook was released in 2014, don’t expect it to run any OS released prior of that time, because older Apple OS versions simply do not include hardware drivers for your Mac. For Windows 10, right-click on the 'Windows' symbol on the toolbar and select 'System.' Alternatively, type 'winver' in the search toolbar. Go to your iPad or iPhone's home screen, then touch the 'Settings' icon. From there, select 'General.' Next, tap 'About.' You'll see all of the information. Jul 29, 2020 Find operating system info in Windows 7 Select the Start button, type Computer in the search box, right-click on Computer, and then select Properties. Under Windows edition, you'll see the version and edition of Windows that your device is running. The maximum version of Mac OS X, OS X, or macOS supported by each G3 and later Mac follows. For complete specs on a particular system, click the name of the Mac. For all Macs that are compatible with a specifc maximum supported version of Mac OS X - courtesy of EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Sort - click the OS of interest. Sep 25, 2020 If your Mac is using an earlier version of any Mac operating system, you should install the latest Apple software updates, which can include important security updates and updates for the apps that are installed by macOS, such as Safari, Books, Messages, Mail, Music, Calendar, and Photos.
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Running the latest software is not always the best decision. There are plenty of reasons you might want to downgrade or run an older version of macOS on your computer.
You may find that after the latest update your computer runs slower, your apps don’t function, or that the programs you need to run are not yet compatible with the upgrade. Maybe as a developer, you want to create a test environment to ensure your software runs properly in all available versions of OS X - check out the infographic below. Or you may simply like the look of the old version better (no judgement) and not want to upgrade until absolutely necessary.
Keep your apps while downgrading
Get Setapp, a collection of Mac apps that strengthen your macOS. Whenever you decide to downgrade, your apps will travel with you.
How to Install Old OS X on Your Mac
Although you might think that going back to the old macOS is not possible by looking at the App Store Updates tab, it’s actually quite easy to do. In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to download and install an old OS X on your Mac.
Prepare your Mac first
Make sure you are ready to downgrade your operating system by checking in with what version of OS X you already have and ensuring you have enough hard drive room to download the older version. Clicking the apple in the top left corner of your desktop and selecting About This Mac will allow you to see what OS X version you are currently running. Tabbing over to Storage will let you know how much disk space you have available. You’ll need around around eight gigabytes free depending on which macOS you downgrade to.
Even if you do have enough space, it’s a good idea to clean your computer before installing the desired operating system. You can, of course, do so manually by deleting unused files and uninstalling old software to free up disk space. Depending on how tidy you are, this might take quite a bit of time.
To make things easy, use a specialized app like CleanMyMac, which will quickly free up space by detecting unused apps and large files, and offering to completely delete them, with all their hidden corresponding files, in one quick click.
Optimizing your Mac with CleanMyMac is effortless:
- Launch CleanMyMac
- Select the Smart Scan tab and click Scan
- Review Details to see the list of suggested optimizations
- Click Clean
To uninstall certain apps, find the Uninstaller tab and select the apps you haven’t been using for a while.
Download CMM X to prepare for Big Sur
The only solution that will free up disk space, remove duplicates, and solve tons of problems to prepare your Mac for a new macOS
The final preparation step is to make sure you back up all your important files to cloud storage or an external drive. A proper backup app like Get Backup Pro can save you a lot of headache here.
To create a new backup with Get Backup Pro:
- Connect your external hard drive
- Click the plus icon in the bottom left corner
- Type in the name for your backup
- Choose your external drive as a destination
- Adjust all the settings according to your preference and click OK
- Tap the play button once you ready to perform the backup
Grab an old macOS with Setapp
Downgrading to previous operating systems on Mac gets easier. To put it shortly, Setapp has your back here.
Download the OS X you want
Once you have space on your computer, figure out what version of OS X you would like to install. You can see all previous versions of OS X your Mac has installed by opening up the App Store and clicking the icon in Applications. Tab to the Purchase page of the menu and scroll down to find the line for previous operating systems. Clicking the install button of the macOS you want will begin downloading the file.
What if I can’t find the version I want in the app store?
If your goal is to download a version of macOS that you have not already used, or, that was not available as an update from the App Store after you bought your Mac, you may need to purchase it. The earliest versions, OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion are available on the Apple Store’s website and arrive to you via email for download. OS X Snow Leopard ships as a boxed version and requires a disk drive to install.
It could be helpful to know where you sit on the timeline of macOS X updates. Below is a chronological list of all the updates beginning with the most recent update, High Sierra, released in 2017:
- OS X High Sierra 10.13
- OS X Sierra 10.12
- OS X ElCapitan 10.11
- OS X Yosemite 10.10
- OS X Mavericks 10.9
- OS X Mountain Lion 10.8
- OS X Lion 10.7, released in 2011
Visiting the Apple Support’s Downloads page makes it easy to search for any version of macOS you might need, and most are available for free. Downloads for previous versions of OS X are linked below and include:
Alternative sources for downloading macOS
If you can’t find the version you want from Apple, ask a friend who is running the macOS you’re looking for to make a copy of the installer file for you. Downloading a .dmg file from a torrent site may seem a quick solution, but it means risking your security. Alternatively, you could hit up your nearest Apple Store. They will likely have image files of all the different versions of the software and help you install it right there as well.
Install the macOS
If you download the file from the App Store, the installer will start immediately. Follow the prompts and be prepared to restart your computer. If you acquire the installer from another source, just downloading the file will not install the OS X right away on your Mac, you’ll need to find the file in your Downloads or Applications folder, then open and run the installer from the downloaded file.
I can’t download an old version of Mac OS X
A downgrade is different than an upgrade. When you try to downgrade macOS, the installer may not launch right away depending on which versions of macOS you are moving between. If your installer does not launch, or you get an error message that reads: “This copy of the ‘Install OS X’ application is too old to be opened on this version of OS X,” you’ll need to use a bootable USB or external drive to work around this problem.
Get a bootable drive with OS X
Creating a bootable USB or a bootable drive is not complicated. You’ll need an external drive with enough space to hold your desired OS X on it and a basic familiarity with Terminal, Apple’s command line interface.
If you’re uncomfortable using Terminal to execute basic commands, use an app like Disk Drill to help create a boot drive. Whether you use Terminal or Disk Drill, our guide on creating a bootable installer will walk you through all the necessary steps.
Remove the old OS X
Once your drive is prepared with your bootable version of OS X, erase the unwanted version. After you restart your computer, press and hold Command + R. When you enter the macOS Utilities screen, navigate to Disk Utility, click continue, and find your Startup Disk. Tab to the Erase page and name the file you want erased (e.g. macOS High Sierra). Then select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the dropdown menu. Hit Erase and quit out of Disk Utility. This will return you to the OS X Utilities selector.
Install the bootable version of OS X
If you used Disk Drill for creating your bootable drive, a window will prompt your actions for using the install disk you made. But if you created your own using Terminal, use OS X Utilities Selector and find Reinstall OS X. Find and select your install disk with your bootable version of your preferred macOS, and click continue through to the license agreement. Once you agree, you should be prompted by the installer. Once the installation is completed, your computer should restart. If it does not restart itself, make sure you restart it normally. The downgrade should be complete!
As you can see, downgrading your OS X is not as dreadful as you might think, especially if you use helper apps like CleanMyMac, Get Backup Pro, and Disk Drill — all of which are available for a free trial on Setapp. So downgrade away!
macOS evolution inforgaphic
OS X 10.0
March 24, 2001
“When you saw it, you wanted to lick it,” said Steve Jobs about Aqua – the brand new UI born with the release of Cheetah. Preview, Mail, QuickTime, and TextEdit make debut at this point.
September 25, 2001
No big functionality updates, the focus is shifted to performance instead. From improved file management to CD and DVD burning, Puma just makes it work better.
OS X 10.2
August 23, 2002
A large grey Apple logo appears for the first time, replacing Happy Mac at startup. Optimized search functionality of Finder and the first release of Accessibility API – Universal Access. App arrivals: iChat and Address Book.
October 24, 2003
Panther release introduces Exposé, a feature for seamless management of open applications. Safari officially becomes the default web browser.
OS X 10.4
April 29, 2005
A rich harvest for Mac, Tiger marks the launch of 200+ new features. Spotlight search and Dashboard are the top stars, with Apple TV, Automator, and VoiceOver joining the crowd.
October 26, 2007
Long-awaited and Mac-changing. Leopard gives a spectacular leap, introducing Time Machine, Boot Camp, QuickLook, and full support for 64-bit software.
OS X 10.6
August 28, 2009
While Leopard did a great job, Snow Leopard arrives to refine it even more. Mainly, it comes with apps rewritten in 64 bit and OpenCL. The 2009 OS X release is also known for Mac App Store launch.
July 20, 2011
iCloud arrives. Apart from that, lots of iOS advancements find reflection in OS X Lion, covering Launchpad, multi-touch gestures, and more.
OS X 10.8
July 25, 2012
Mountain Lion adds new integrations and further iOS perks like Reminders, Notes, and Messages. It gets easier to track app updates via the Notification Center.
October 22, 2013
Maps, iBooks, and Tags debut in the first inanimate OS X – Mavericks. To enable secure password encryption and storage, iCloud Keychain in introduced.
OS X 10.10
October 16, 2014
A completely new sleek design is what Yosemite is remembered for. Continuity and Handoff integrated into the new OS strengthen bonds between iOS and OS X devices.
September 30, 2015
El Capitan features Split Views – dual-window functionality for arranging and managing app windows. Plus, OS X 10.11 comes with improved Safari, Mail, and Spotlight.
September 20, 2016
With Sierra, OS X dies and macOS is born. The renamed system introduces even more iOS perks like Siri and unlocking Mac with Apple Watch.
September 25, 2017
Major improvements go unnoticed for a user, but the overall performance skyrockets, due to embracing Apple File System and a new video standard, HEVC.
September 24, 2018
Visual refinements introduced via Dark Mode and Dynamic Desktop take central stage in Mojave. The new apps migrating from iOS include Stocks, News, Home, and Voice Memos..
Meantime, prepare for all the awesome things you can do with Setapp.Read on
So, you’ve decided to download an older version of Mac OS X. There are many reasons that could point you to this radical decision. To begin with, some of your apps may not be working properly (or simply crash) on newer operating systems. Also, you may have noticed your Mac’s performance went down right after the last update. Finally, if you want to run a parallel copy of Mac OS X on a virtual machine, you too will need a working installation file of an older Mac OS X. Further down we’ll explain where to get one and what problems you may face down the road.
MacOS - How To Upgrade - Apple
A list of all Mac OS X versions
We’ll be repeatedly referring to these Apple OS versions below, so it’s good to know the basic macOS timeline.
|Cheetah 10.0||Puma 10.1||Jaguar 10.2|
|Panther 10.3||Tiger 10.4||Leopard 10.5|
|Snow Leopard 10.6||Lion 10.7||Mountain Lion 10.8|
|Mavericks 10.9||Yosemite 10.10||El Capitan 10.11|
|Sierra 10.12||High Sierra 10.13||Mojave 10.14|
STEP 1. Prepare your Mac for installation
Given your Mac isn’t new and is filled with data, you will probably need enough free space on your Mac. This includes not just space for the OS itself but also space for other applications and your user data. One more argument is that the free space on your disk translates into virtual memory so your apps have “fuel” to operate on. The chart below tells you how much free space is needed.
Note, that it is recommended that you install OS on a clean drive. Next, you will need enough disk space available, for example, to create Recovery Partition. Here are some ideas to free up space on your drive:
List Of Apple Operating Systems - Wikipedia
- Uninstall large unused apps
- Empty Trash Bin and Downloads
- Locate the biggest files on your computer:
Go to Finder > All My Files > Arrange by size
Then you can move your space hoggers onto an external drive or a cloud storage.
If you aren’t comfortable with cleaning the Mac manually, there are some nice automatic “room cleaners”. Our favorite is CleanMyMac as it’s most simple to use of all. It deletes system junk, old broken apps, and the rest of hidden junk on your drive.
Download CleanMyMac for OS 10.4 - 10.8 (free version)
Download CleanMyMac for OS 10.9 (free version)
Download CleanMyMac for OS 10.10 - 10.14 (free version)
STEP 2. Get a copy of Mac OS X download
Normally, it is assumed that updating OS is a one-way road. That’s why going back to a past Apple OS version is problematic. The main challenge is to download the OS installation file itself, because your Mac may already be running a newer version. If you succeed in downloading the OS installation, your next step is to create a bootable USB or DVD and then reinstall the OS on your computer.
Mac Operating System Download
How to download older Mac OS X versions via the App Store
If you once had purchased an old version of Mac OS X from the App Store, open it and go to the Purchased tab. There you’ll find all the installers you can download. However, it doesn’t always work that way. The purchased section lists only those operating systems that you had downloaded in the past. But here is the path to check it:
- Click the App Store icon.
- Click Purchases in the top menu.
- Scroll down to find the preferred OS X version.
- Click Download.
This method allows you to download Mavericks and Yosemite by logging with your Apple ID — only if you previously downloaded them from the Mac App Store.
Without App Store: Download Mac OS version as Apple Developer
Macintosh Operating Systems - Wikipedia
If you are signed with an Apple Developer account, you can get access to products that are no longer listed on the App Store. If you desperately need a lower OS X version build, consider creating a new Developer account among other options. The membership cost is $99/year and provides a bunch of perks unavailable to ordinary users.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that if you visit developer.apple.com/downloads, you can only find 10.3-10.6 OS X operating systems there. Newer versions are not available because starting Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.7, the App Store has become the only source of updating Apple OS versions.
Apple Macbook Operating System Versions
Purchase an older version of Mac operating system
You can purchase a boxed or email version of past Mac OS X directly from Apple. Both will cost you around $20. For the reason of being rather antiquated, Snow Leopard and earlier Apple versions can only be installed from DVD.
Buy a boxed edition of Snow Leopard 10.6
Get an email copy of Lion 10.7
Get an email copy of Mountain Lion 10.8
The email edition comes with a special download code you can use for the Mac App Store. Note, that to install the Lion or Mountain Lion, your Mac needs to be running Snow Leopard so you can install the newer OS on top of it.
How to get macOS El Capitan download
If you are wondering if you can run El Capitan on an older Mac, rejoice as it’s possible too. But before your Mac can run El Capitan it has to be updated to OS X 10.6.8. So, here are main steps you should take:
1. Install Snow Leopard from install DVD.
2. Update to 10.6.8 using Software Update.
3. Download El Capitan here.
“I can’t download an old version of Mac OS X”
If you have a newer Mac, there is no physical option to install Mac OS versions older than your current Mac model. For instance, if your MacBook was released in 2014, don’t expect it to run any OS released prior of that time, because older Apple OS versions simply do not include hardware drivers for your Mac.
But as it often happens, workarounds are possible. There is still a chance to download the installation file if you have an access to a Mac (or virtual machine) running that operating system. For example, to get an installer for Lion, you may ask a friend who has Lion-operated Mac or, once again, set up a virtual machine running Lion. Then you will need to prepare an external drive to download the installation file using OS X Utilities.
After you’ve completed the download, the installer should launch automatically, but you can click Cancel and copy the file you need. Below is the detailed instruction how to do it.
STEP 3. Install older OS X onto an external drive
The following method allows you to download Mac OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks.
- Start your Mac holding down Command + R.
- Prepare a clean external drive (at least 10 GB of storage).
- Within OS X Utilities, choose Reinstall OS X.
- Select external drive as a source.
- Enter your Apple ID.
Now the OS should start downloading automatically onto the external drive. After the download is complete, your Mac will prompt you to do a restart, but at this point, you should completely shut it down. Now that the installation file is “captured” onto your external drive, you can reinstall the OS, this time running the file on your Mac.
- Boot your Mac from your standard drive.
- Connect the external drive.
- Go to external drive > OS X Install Data.
Locate InstallESD.dmg disk image file — this is the file you need to reinstall Lion OS X. The same steps are valid for Mountain Lion and Mavericks.
How to downgrade a Mac running later macOS versions
If your Mac runs macOS Sierra 10.12 or macOS High Sierra 10.13, it is possible to revert it to the previous system if you are not satisfied with the experience. You can do it either with Time Machine or by creating a bootable USB or external drive.
Instruction to downgrade from macOS Sierra
Instruction to downgrade from macOS High Sierra
Instruction to downgrade from macOS Mojave
Instruction to downgrade from macOS Catalina
Before you do it, the best advice is to back your Mac up so your most important files stay intact. In addition to that, it makes sense to clean up your Mac from old system junk files and application leftovers. The easiest way to do it is to run CleanMyMac X on your machine (download it for free here).
Visit your local Apple Store to download older OS X version
If none of the options to get older OS X worked, pay a visit to nearest local Apple Store. They should have image installations going back to OS Leopard and earlier. You can also ask their assistance to create a bootable USB drive with the installation file. So here you are. We hope this article has helped you to download an old version of Mac OS X. Below are a few more links you may find interesting.