Do you wish to downgrade or revert the latest macOS(macOS previously Mac OS X and later OS X) update to a version that you had earlier? If this is what you want, it can surely be done with the help of the different procedures we have explained in this guide. However, there are several methods that might be good to use but could lead to an abrupt loss of data, as is with any other downgrade of OS.
So, how would you prevent this? How to reinstall macOS without losing data? Well, here is a thorough guide with some of the tried and tested strategies to help you downgrade without data loss.
Top Tips to Downgrade macOS or macOS X without Data Loss
1-Backup the Mac data:
The best and easiest way to downgrade your existing macOS without data loss is to actively back up the data into any other system you have at your premise. You can also opt for 3rd party backup software meant for macOS systems.
This will help you back up the data onto an external drive. Given the fact that data security is an important aspect, it is highly recommended that you back up the data into your external drive.
There is another application you can use for data back on macOS known as the Time Machine. If you do plan to use this, here are all the steps you need to follow:
- Click the pathway Finder> Preference> Click on the check box “Hard Disks.” This would be under the “Show Items” options on the desktop.
- Now, open your system’s backup disk & create a folder while naming it.
- Next, open the disk & click on the file folder for “Users.”
- Select all the data and files that are required to be backed up & drag them into your backup folder.
Finally, wait for the move to finish. Once the backup is complete, you can easily revert the OS to its previous version.
2-Create a Boot Drive (USB) & Revert to Old macOS:
Another alternative for you to try is the boot drive method. Here is how you can downgrade the macOS to a desirable OS like the Mojave or High Sierra.
- Plug the external USB onto your system. Ensure the memory on this USB drive is at least a bit higher than your requirement to ensure a smooth transition from the system to the drive.
- Launch the Disk Utility option & select your USB drive. If the drive contains data that is unnecessary, you need to click on the Erase option.
- Rename your drive & select macOS extended or APFS as your default format. Next, click on the Erase option. Finally, quit the disk utility option after the process has been completed.
- Go to the Finder & launch Terminal.
Type this command:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app
Now, hit the return option pronto!
- Enter the Admin Password required to progress the task at hand. Now, wait for the process to be completed. Now, restart your Mac & hold your Option key.
- Once the option for boot disk selection appears, select its installer disk option or the USB drive created by you.
- Doing this will start the installation of High Sierra. Once this has been finished, you can successfully restart the Mac & your Startup Assistant shall appear. Then, follow the steps that allow you to install the latest OS.
In case your macOS was shipped with the Mojave OS, you can downgrade Catalina to the Mojave OS by following the tips below:
- Restart the Mac and hold the Command + Shift + Option + R keys together to enter the Recovery Mode.
- Additionally, you also must press the Command + R option in order to enter its Recovery Mode.
- Now, click on the “Disk Utility” option. Select the disk drive with the Mojave OS installed, & click on the “Erase” option.
- Next, rename your disk & select the APFS or macOS extended option as your file format & click on “Erase.”
- Finally, re-enter your system’s Recovery Mode, & select the “Reinstall macOS,” & press the “Continue” option.
In doing so, your High Sierra OS shall be installed over the Mac system automatically.
Downgrading macOS X(El Capitan to the Yosemite )
OS X Yosemite is the eleventh major release of macOS and OS X El Capitan is the twelfth major release of macOS.
- Visit the Mac Application Store and download the installer named OS X Yosemite.
- In order to create the bootable USB storage drive for your EL Capitan downgrade, you can download an application named “Diskmaker X.”
- Next, insert the USB drive to the Mac & launch the Diskmaker X.
- You need to select the OS X Yosemite 10.10. Doing this will initiate an automated process where the app does it all for you.
- Keep your USB drive within the PC & restart your Mac. Opt for the Alt option and select the USB drive within this menu while you reboot the Mac.
- Now, visit the utility section & select the Disk Utility in order to install the OS X system menu.
- Next, select the Macintosh HD & choose Erase option. Ensure that you select the macOS extended option for the format section.
- Return to the menu that allows you to install the OS X & select the continue option to start the Yosemite installation.
- Finally, all you need to do is be patient as the mac is downgrading.
3-Downgrading with the macOS Recovery:
A popular method you can choose to downgrade without losing data is to make use of the system’s built-in app called macOS Recovery. In this downgrade method for macOS, you do not actually need to back up the previous macOS version.
But, you do need to have ongoing internet access. During the downgrade process, your macOS Recovery app will download the previous version. The process is similar to the reinstallation of the macOS.
Here are the instructions you need to follow:
- First, shut down the Mac & then power the same back on.
- Now, as the Mac system is booting, you need to press the keys Option + Shift + R +CMD & hold all until the Recovery loads. This startup tends to take longer than general, so you might have to be patient.
- Once the app is loaded, you need to select the option Reinstall OS X or macOS from your utility screen. Next, click on the Continue option.
- Follow all the instructions on the screen & select the startup disk. Next, click on its Install button.
- Complete the entire installation process while following the prompts appearing onscreen.
- After the installation process has been completed, select the preferred method for restoration of the backed-up files.
4-Downgrade the Older Version of the macOS Installer:
If you are yet to upgrade the macOS to Mojave, you need to download the older OS & then easily downgrade to the same via the old version of the macOS installer. This helps you keep all your data and avoids any loss in the downgrading process.
For this particular method, you would require an older variant of the macOS. You can either use the iCloud account present on your machine & download the older versions in this way. Additionally, you can keep an installer as the backup part.
This method would also require you to have an external HD or the USB drive that packs in 16GB minimum of free storage.
How can you restore the lost data post downgrade?
This particular method is generally used in case you forgot the data backup procedure prior to downgrading to macOS. This would have surely led to data loss. So, here is a solution you can try to restore your data loss post the reinstallation or downgrade of the macOS X.
In such a case, you need to make use of powerful recovery software for Mac data.
Fixing issues while downgrading your macOS or macOS X
Reversing any system upgrade comes with its own set of pitfalls and wrinkles. A lot of these changes come due to an abrupt downgrade in the file format & the settings between different OS versions. For example, in case you create a file or document in the latest version, it might not exactly work with the older version.
In order to mitigate the issue, it is better if you export the documents created by you and transition them into the latest file format. In case you use the Ulysses or Scrivener format, export all your documents in the RTF file format. This way, in case your files don’t survive this downgrade, you can re-import these RTF files.
With these methods in mind, you can easily downgrade the macOS or macOS X without any loss of data. All that is needed to be done is to create a complete file backup and use any of the methods to start the downgrade process.
These tips are efficient, easy to use, & come with a success rate for data recovery.
You can try above methods to downgrade macOS: Big Sur to Catalina, Catalina to Mojave, Mojave to High Sierra, High Sierra to Sierra and downgrade Mac OS X: Yosemite to El Capitan, etc.