How to Download Old Versions of macOS

It’s wonderful that Apple offers free OS upgrades to keep Macs secure and up to date. But there are times you might wish to use an older version of macOS on your computer.

You could want to use a program that can’t run on the current macOS or need to get an operating system on an older Mac. Or, you may want to use an older version simply because you prefer its interface.

We can teach you how to get old versions of macOS on your MacBook or iMac today. So, follow the steps below to get the downgrade of your dreams!

Make Sure Your Mac Can Use an Older macOS

Before you can download an old macOS onto your Mac, you must ensure your Mac can actually run the software.

Some older macOS versions, like macOS 10.13 High Sierra, require Intel 64-bit processors found in older Macs to run. So, if you have a Mac with an Apple silicon chip like an M1 or M2 MacBook, you can’t have High Sierra as your operating system.

A 2017 Mac can run a ton of different macOS versions, though. It’s highly dependent on the older macOS you want to use and the Mac you’re working with.

To see if your Mac is compatible with an older version of macOS, you need to find out what model of Mac you own and check if that model matches the OS’s technical specifications.

To see your Mac model, click on the Apple menu at the top-left corner of your screen and select About This Mac from the dropdown. In the window that appears just below the macOS version number, you’ll find your Mac’s model name and year of release.

To verify that your Mac hardware is compatible with the old macOS you wish to download, you can find the page for that version on the Apple website and look for your Mac model under the Mac Hardware Requirements header.

Clicking on the Learn about compatibility link on the macOS version’s Apple page will give you an even more detailed list of Mac models that can utilize that OS.

Here are direct links to the technical specification pages of several versions of macOS to aid you in your search:

Decide Which Older Version of macOS You Want

To check if your Mac is compatible with an old version of macOS, you need to know which macOS you want to downgrade to.

Different versions of macOS have different capabilities. They support different versions of applications and can run different kinds of applications from each other, like 32-bit vs. 64-bit ones.

The older macOS you may want will depend on your own needs and wants for your computer (and, per the previous section, what macOS your computer can run).

For an idea of what capabilities earlier versions of macOS have, it’s worth checking out every Mac operating system version in order to see which OS is the right one for you.

Locate and Download the Old macOS Version

Mac OS X Lion installer page on the Apple website

Now, you know which older macOS versions your Mac can run and which one you want. All you need to do at this point is locate the OS to download it onto your Mac.

We want to make finding these older macOS versions as easy for you as possible, so below are direct links to where you can download the installers for these operating systems. For some, you’ll have to click Install to start the download, but for others, the download should start once you click:

Apple no longer seems to offer installation links to Max OS X 10.9 Mavericks, so we’ve omitted it from this list.

Some more recent macOS versions are available to download directly from the Mac App Store. Here are the direct links for those versions, where you can click Get to get the installation file:

macOS Mojave download page in the Mac App Store

If you’re interested in a macOS version that came before Mac OS X Lion, you’ll need to locate an installation disc for it. Those older versions only came on disc—Lion was the first macOS you could download digitally—but the discs seem pretty easy to find on eBay if you’re willing to go after them!

Install the Old macOS Version on Your Mac

Once you have the installer for your older macOS downloaded, it’s pretty easy to install the OS onto your Mac.

Double-click on the .dmg installer file, then the .pkg file within that. The macOS installer will now be in your Applications folder—head there and double-click on it. The installer will now open.

If you downloaded the OS through the Mac App Store, the installer should open once the download of it is complete. If it doesn’t, you should be able to double-click on the installer in your Applications folder.

macOS Monterey installer in MacBook Applications folder

From there, follow the onscreen instructions to install the old version of macOS you want onto your Mac!

For a deeper step-by-step breakdown of this process, check out our guide on downgrading to an older version of macOS, where you’ll also get great tips on backing up your Mac before the installation process.

Get Old macOS Versions Quickly and Easily

It’s a pretty easy process to download an older operating system for an old Mac, and it’s also easy to downgrade the macOS on a modern Mac to use older software.

Simply follow our steps above to confirm compatibility between your Mac and the macOS version you wish to install. Then, click the link we provided to download directly and begin your installation.

We hope your download of an old version of macOS goes well and that you remember to back up your Mac before installing the software.

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