Can you download old versions of Mac OS anymore?

And yes, I know about How to get old versions of macOS - Apple Support but that site redirects you to the cursed App Store, where I’m told I don’t need that update. Gee, thanks for thinking for me, Apple.

I have an old MacPro 4,1 I need to resurrect. I don’t have a DVD installer for High Sierra (and the drive appears to be toast anyway), and I just replaced the failed hard drive. But I can’t for the life of me find a High Sierra download.

The apple dev program web site used to have these in the download section but they’ve removed them. Am I just out of luck here?

I don’t recall if they are someplace else. But what I do recall from the last time I had to do this, was the installs fail with a very misleading message even once you do have the right installer. (Even one saved from way back at the time.)

The install failure is actually because the certificate used to sign the copy has expired, but the message does not tell you that. My recollection is that you needed to do something like:

  • Disable auto time settings
  • Disconnect from Internet
  • Set your date back to what should have been valid for that OS level (say the next year after release or something)
  • Install
  • Set your date back to current date
  • Reconnect to internet
  • Enable auto time settings (if that is what you want)

My recollection is it was only the install that failed, and that once installed you were fine with whatever system date.

This does not directly answer your question. But it may help you once you do get the installer.

thanks. yeah, I’m aware of that one, and I think it applies to Sierra as well. I got an installer from a friend, but he downloaded it through the App Store a while back, on his laptop. I was able to make an installer USB thumb drive and everything was fine until it got to the point where you choose a disk to install on.

That’s when it tells me it can’t be installed on my machine. The Installer Logs have a semi-cryptic message about a firmware mismatch, suggesting that the installer I’m using is expecting firmware for different hardware.

I’m hoping to find a “universal” installer - the kind they used to let you download from the dev site, that was basically the equivalent of what you’d get on a DVD - an installer that would work on any compatible mac.

Perhaps related to the partition or formatting of the drive? You may want to see what disk utility offers for the drive and try something else.

MacTracker says that OS X 10.11 (“El Capitan”) is the latest OS available for the MacPro 4,1. You can download an image with El Capitan on the page, you mentioned in your first post, there is a direct download link, no need to go to the App Store.

I believe there is a way in the App Store to get the direct download link. I can’t find that right now but there is an archive on Apple somewhere. I’ve used it not long ago…

Ah, crap. You’re right. I’m so used to dealing with 5,1 MacPros (which is most of our other machines) that I thought Sierra/High Sierra were compatible with this. I guess I’l try with El Cap. Thanks!

FWIW, you can flash a 4,1 Mac Pro so it thinks it is a 5,1 and use newer macOS versions. I had done this on my 2009 Mac Pro (alas, it’s now dead) and it worked great.

I have no idea where you can direct download older macOS versions, but you can usually find people selling the DVDs for them on eBay.

thanks. DVD? What’s that? :grinning:

I second that, and then install Mojave - runs very nicely.

I like this idea. I have a 2006 MacPro that is just collecting dust on a shelf. Wonder if it would be fast or sluggish…

My 3.1GHz 2017 MBP feels sluggish compared to the DTK I just returned. I don’t think anything from 2006 is going to compare.

As for the original question, I recently ran into this trouble trying to get old VMs setup for 10.11 and 10.12. Getting usable installers can be exceptionally difficult. The only way I was able to get it done was to start from an older version I already had, which I could use the App Store to download the full installer for later versions. I now have a library of complete ready-to-use (meaning not download-on-demand) installers for everything from 10.7 through 10.15 sitting on my NAS. Once you get one… keep it. Apple frequently makes them harder to obtain.

1 Like

boot the mac holding cmd-opt-R with connecting to internet via a cable.
it should boot to apple headquarters, and you get a recovery disk
(can be slow if you don’t have fiber connexion…)
from there you should be able to download a macos for your device and install it

There seems to be links to download the older MacOS all the way back to Yosemite

Isn’t there a terminal command in BS where you can download the old versions?

Edit: This is even in Crapolina. Article is in German: Mit dem Terminal alte macOS-Installer Dateien laden » Sir Apfelot

1 Like

If it’s any help I have these installers on my server:
Mac OS X Snow Leopard.cdr
Install Mac OS X Lion
Install macOS 10.15 Beta
Install macOS Catalina Beta
Install macOS High Sierra
Install macOS Mojave
Install OS X 10.9 Developer Preview
Install OS X 10.10 Developer Preview
Install OS X El Capitan
Install OS X Mavericks
Install OS X Mountain Lion
Install OS X Yosemite

But I think you can download them from Apple.

1 Like

take care to download them regularly, especially the recent one.
they all have a certificate with “end-of-life” date burned in and old one don’t install anymore.

Dammit, that explains why I couldn’t use them when I needed them. That’s extremely annoying.

In addition to other resources already mentioned, I think you can download several of them from (always you have a Dev account), and probably also right from the “purchased” section on the App Store itself (click on your user name on the App Store window).

and instead of saying “this installer is too old” it says “this installer is damaged”
thanks apple !
anyway you can always download it from the machine, and boot the recovery disk from apple using cmd-opt-R at boot time. this will always work but it downloads the installer each time.