There are several reasons why you may want to download and install older versions of macOS or Mac OS X. You may need to use a software not compatible with the latest version, or maybe you don’t like the new version of macOS you just installed.
It may also be the case that you are a developer and need to run multiple versions of macOS and Mac OS X at the same time to ensure that your software works fine on all.
In this article, we will explain how to get older versions of macOS, including Catalina, Mojave, El Capitan, Sierra, Yosemite, and even older versions of Mac OS X. We show you how to get the installation files to have them on your Mac.
On the other hand, if you want to go back to a previous version of macOS, you will be interested in our article How to roll back from macOS Big Sur to Catalina or earlier versions. Now, you should know that old versions of macOS cannot be installed on Macs with M1.
To know the steps to follow once you have downloaded the installer, visit this tutorial: How to install older versions of macOS or Mac OS X.
Where to download an old version of macOS
Before installing an older version of macOS or Mac OS X, you will need to obtain the installer for the version of macOS you want to use. Luckily, those files can be easily accessed, as long as you know where to look for them in the Mac App Store.
Later you will find the necessary links and we will explain how to get the installers for these versions of macOS:
- macOS Catalina
- macOS Mojave
- macOS High Sierra
- macOS Sierra
- OS X El Capitan
- OS X Yosemite
- OS X Mavericks
- OS X Mountain Lion
- OS X Lion
Of course, keep in mind that it seems that the links that we offer below only work from Safari, so we advise you to go to the Apple browser before continuing. You should also close the Mac App Store or the link might not work.
On the other hand, it is not possible to get Mac OS X Snow Leopard with this method, but we will develop that in due course. In fact, we will tell you how to get a copy of Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion as well.
At this point, you might be interested in checking out our list of Macs compatible with each version of macOS and Mac OS X.
How to download macOS Catalina
You can download the macOS Catalina installer from the Mac App Store, as long as you know where to find the magic link.
1. Click this link to open the Mac App Store to the page dedicated to Catalina. As we said, use Safari and close the Mac App Store before opening it.
2. Now, click on the ‘Get’ button.
3. The ‘Software update’ panel will open indicating that the update is being searched. At the end you will see a message asking if you are sure you want to download macOS Catalina.
It may seem like an update and not the full version, but you will see that the size of the download (about 6 GB) indicates that it is the full Catalina installer.
Four. Once the installer has downloaded, do not click ‘Install’. If you do, the installer will be removed automatically.
5. You should find the Install macOS Catalina app in your ‘Applications’ folder. It will be then when you must follow the steps that we indicate in the article How to roll back from macOS Big Sur to Catalina or earlier versions.
How to download macOS Mojave
The Mojave installer can also be accessed by clicking this link to the Mac App Store. As we have indicated above, for it to work you must open it in Safari and after having closed the Mac App Store. If it’s open, it won’t work.
Follow the steps in the previous section to download the macOS Mojave installer.
How to download macOS High Sierra
It is also possible to download High Sierra using this link (use Safari and close the Mac App Store app first, of course). And, as before, follow the same steps to download High Sierra.
How to download macOS Sierra, macOS El Capitan, or macOS Yosemite
Apple offers .dmg files from its older versions of macOS. All you have to do is download them from Safari. A disk image called InstallOS.dmg will download and then you will have to locate the pkg installer within this disk image.
We have already said before that, in our experience, normally the reason why one of these links does not work is because you are not opening them from Safari, or because you already had the Mac App Store app open before doing so.
If the above links doesnt work for you. You can download macOS files from here:
Other ways to get older versions of macOS
If you have an older version of macOS installed (or you know someone who does), you should be able to easily see older versions of macOS and even Mac OS X on the Mac App Store. How easy it is to find them depends on the version of macOS installed on your Mac.
Before the arrival of macOS Mojave in 2018, installers for older versions of macOS could be searched for or found from the ‘Purchases’ tab (even if you didn’t have to pay anything for them).
However, when Apple introduced Mojave, it made changes to the Mac App Store and that is no longer the case. Luckily, with the links you’ll find in the previous sections, you still have access to those download pages from the Mac App Store.
If you have access to a Mac with an earlier version of macOS, log into the Mac App Store with your password and download the Mojave installer on your Mac.
Once the installer has downloaded, do not install it. If you do, the installer will be removed automatically. You will find the installer in the ‘Applications’ folder, from which you can copy it to the Mac of your choice or create a bootable installer.
You may be able to download the installer via Terminal, but we have not been able to personally test this method.
You may also find old versions of macOS on the Apple website, although it is worth noting that these are only updates and not full versions, so they will surely not be of much help to you.
The only thing you really shouldn’t do is go to a torrent site and download a copy of the OS X you want, as this can be dangerous. Pirated copies of Apple software may be created to allow access by users. hackers to your Mac.
How to download OS X Lion and Mountain Lion
Until June 2021, it was possible to buy OS X 10.7 Lion or Mountain Lion from Apple. Apple now no longer charges to download old versions of its operating system, but you can download them directly from its website.
You can download these versions by clicking on these links:
How to download OS X Snow Leopard
The version of Mac OS X you are looking for may never have been available on the Mac App Store. This is the case with Snow Leopard, the first version of Mac OS X that arrived at the same time as the App Store.
This way of downloading updates and new applications for Mac OS X was introduced with Snow Leopard and means that anyone with a Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or earlier cannot access the Mac application store to download anything.
Until 2021, Apple sold a version of Mac OS X 10.6, but now it has eliminated that possibility. However, this should not be a big problem because you can still download the Lion or Mountain Lion updates as we explained before.