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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.
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:
- 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.
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
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.
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
Mac Os X Lion Iso
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.
These might also interest you:
If your machine is part of the mainstream configuration, you can discard the traditional real native partition installation method, while the use of virtual machine method described in this article, not only greatly reduce the problems encountered difficult, but also in the use of Mac OS X to get the experience is excellent the. (This tutorial configuration needs: support hardware virtualization technology (Virtualization) of the CPU. Current mainstream Intel Core series and AMD Athlon series CPU virtualization technology is supported, the name was Intel VT-x and AMD-V.)
Description of the whole process
Crack VMware supports Mac OS X
In VMware Install Mac OS X
Finishing work late
This tutorial method used by the virtual machine, provided that the machine's CPU must support hardware virtualization technology. Readers can be CPU-V or CPU-Z and other tools to test the result. Open CPU hardware virtualization technology can be turned on via the motherboard BIOS settings.
Download and install VMware Workstation VMware can go to the official website or on the ed2k network search download (recommended). Described here no longer compile.
Apple systems on Mac OS X installation disc image, use the dmg format of the original image. I recommend to search for ed2k network download (recommended), the keyword is 'Mac OS X Mountain Lion dmg' or 'Mac OS X Lion dmg'. Described here no longer compile.
Crack VMware Workstation supports Mac OS X
Here we need to use the tool 'Workstation and Fusion Mac OS X Unlocker'
VMware Workstation and complete the installation after the restart, completely unpack Unlocker compressed package to the administrator mode windows/install.cmd.
Unlocker will automatically stop VMware services, backup VMware program files, program files crack VMware, restart the VMware service and a series of operations, and will automatically end the command line window.
After the break VMware has created a virtual machine system selection dialog:
Create Mac OS X, VMware virtual machines
After Unlocker crack, start VMware Workstation normally create a virtual machine, select 'Apple Mac OS X' (depending on the Mac OS installation disk in the system, select the corresponding version of the correct version, here I use a Mac OS X Mountain Lion, version 10.8 64-bit). Creation process has the following non-default configuration:
(1) in the processor options, select 'Number of cores per processor (each processor cores)' for the two, which can induce a VMware virtual machine automatically enables advanced hardware virtualization technology.
(2) after created, first click on the 'Edit virtual machine settings', the hardware's 'Floppy' delete option is enabled in the display 'Accelerate 3D graphics'.
Bootable Os X Lion Download
(3) In Virtual machine configuration, in the Advanced Settings, set the priority of the input capture 'high', and check 'Disable memory page trimming.
With a text editor (such as Notepad) to edit the virtual machine files (where the author is E:Program Files(x86)Virtual_MachinesMac OS XMac OS X.vmx), add a line at the end of the file:
This operation is used to disable the VMware virtual machine is placed on your hard disk memory mirroring prevents the virtual machine hard disk read and write operation occurs during the busy horrors.
Start the VMware virtual machine and install Mac OS X
Edit the virtual machine configuration 'CD / DVD' option in the 'Use ISO image file' at the choice of our Mac OS X installation disc image. (Please select the browse file dialog box when the file type, select 'All Files (*. *)', You can see the file name suffix for the dmg image file.) Confirmation is complete, start the VMware virtual machine.
Mac Os X 10.7 Installer
Start the virtual machine, the virtual machine default boot from the CD, the Apple Logo appears after officially came to Mac OS X installation interface.
Download Mac Os Mountain Lion 10.8
In the 'Mac OS X Utilities' select 'Disk Utility', select the first hard drive on the left and on the right select 'Erase' (the 'Format' select 'Mac OS X Extended (Journaled)'), Click the 'Erase' button to format the current drive.
After formatting the hard disk partition, back to 'Mac OS X Utilities' and click 'Install Mac OS X', enter the installation process.
Completed in a VMware virtual machine after installing Mac OS X, the first thing of course is to install VMware Tools. VMware Tools includes the VMware virtual machine 'hardware' drive, the virtual machine and the host communication between functional support.
Download Os X Lion Installer
Tools used herein Attachments Download