Nonetheless, in a corner of Apple's website that hasn't seen a lick of paint in a decade, there is still a page to let you download Mac OS X Tiger. It's a fast download, too, because Tiger is. There are a few reasons why you might want to download and install old versions of Mac OS X or macOS. Perhaps you are relying on software you have discovered doesn't work properly in the newest. The App Store keeps old OS X installers available under the Purchased tab. Since this isn’t working for Patrick, the better course is to create on another Mac a bootable Yosemite installer.

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 10.0Puma 10.1Jaguar 10.2
Panther 10.3Tiger 10.4Leopard 10.5
Snow Leopard 10.6Lion 10.7Mountain Lion 10.8
Mavericks 10.9Yosemite 10.10El Capitan 10.11
Sierra 10.12High Sierra 10.13Mojave 10.14
Catalina 10.15

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.

Download Older Version Of Macos

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:

  1. Click the App Store icon.
  2. Click Purchases in the top menu.
  3. Scroll down to find the preferred OS X version.
  4. 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

Versions

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

How To Download Old Os On Mac Catalina

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.

  1. Start your Mac holding down Command + R.
  2. Prepare a clean external drive (at least 10 GB of storage).
  3. Within OS X Utilities, choose Reinstall OS X.
  4. Select external drive as a source.
  5. 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.

  1. Boot your Mac from your standard drive.
  2. Connect the external drive.
  3. 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.

These might also interest you:

So you own an older iOS device. And you are very happy with your device because it still works like new. However, your device may be too old for a lot of apps as they may require the latest version of iOS to run properly. It could be such a pain to download apps.

This means that you may not be able to download and install some apps on your device because they may require the latest version of iOS. When you do that you may get an error popup saying this:

This application requires iOS X.X or later. You must update to iOS X.X in order to download and use this application. (see the image below)

This message is useless if your device does not support the iOS X.X version. So how are you going to download this app? Do not worry, there is a way to do this.

Likewise, you may get a similar message saying “this app is not compatible with your device” when you want to download certain apps on your iPad or iPhone, such as Netflix.

See also: Cannot Connect to the App Store, Fix

Older devices may not support the highest supported versions of iOS available. Thus, for instance, you can not install iOS 12 on the original iPad (iPad 1). The last version of iOS that you can install on the original iPad is iOS 5.1.1. Below is the highest versions of iOS available for some of older iOS devices:

  • iPhone 4: iOS 7.1.2
  • iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad Mini 1: iOS 9.3.5
  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPad 4: iOS 10.3.3
  • iPad 1, iPod Touch 3: iOS 5.1.1

However you may be still able to download the last compatible version. This means that, for instance, you may be able to download the Netflix app on your iOS device running 9.3.5 or 10.3.3. This article explains how you can do that:

You may be able to download and install previously purchased apps (perhaps you deleted later). This means two things:

1. If you previously purchased this app, you can redownload and reinstall again. Here is how:

  1. First make sure that you are signed in with the Apple ID that you used to bought the app originally.
  2. Open the App Store app on your device.
  3. Find the Purchased tab and My Purchases. Here you can see all the apps you have installed previously.
  4. Find the app you want to install
  5. Tap the iCloud icon
  6. A popup will appear and you will be asked: “Download an older version of this app? The current version requires iOS X.X or later but you can download the last compatible version” Simple tap “Download”
  7. And download will commence.

2. Ok you may think that number #1 does not work because you have never downloaded the particular app that you want to install. How can you do that? If this is the case, you can buy the app on a newer device and then find and download on your older device. Here is how you can do this:

How To Download New Os On Old Mac

  1. You need to have a newer iOS device (if you do not have one, you can borrow one from a friend).
  2. Make sure that you’re signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on both devices (if you are borrowing a device from a friend, your friend needs to log out first, your friend may want to make copies of the information that he stored in iCloud).
  3. On your new device, launch the App Store and find the app and download and install.
  4. Now get your old device that you want to install the app. On your old device, go to App Store and then Purchased. You will see the app there because you just purchased it. İf you do not see it yet, just wait.
  5. And then tap the iCloud icon to download the app.
  6. And the download will start.

Note that these methods may not work for all apps. This only works if the developer of the app had not deleted it from the Apple’s App servers. Furthermore, since you are downloading an older version of the app, it is highly likely that not all features of the app may be available.

How To Download Old Os On Mac Os

See also: Your Account Has Been Disabled in the Apple Store and iTunes, Fix