How to Downgrade From macOS Catalina

macOS Catalina isn’t quite the upgrade some Mac owners have come to expect. While offering new features that improve the overall experience, including the ability to wirelessly extend your display to a nearby iPad, compatibility issues and bugs have baffled many Mac users. spicy swallow.

Apple has fixed this situation with several patches, but if you want to downgrade to macOS Mojave – or earlier – that’s also possible, although it’s not quite as straightforward as the update process.

We’ll walk you through all the ways to downgrade from macOS Catalina (along with any other Mac operating system) right here. If you are looking to restore your PC, we will cover how to downgrade from Windows 10 separately.

Why do I have to downgrade from macOS Catalina?

macOS Catalina is a great update for Mac users, introducing a host of useful features and tweaks inspired by Apple’s iOS platform. But like Mojave, High Sierra, and most previous versions of macOS, the launch wasn’t perfect, with users experiencing a number of glitches, issues, and vulnerabilities in Catalina.

Aside from the security issue, some Mac users have found that updating to macOS Catalina has corrupted the apps they use every day – not ideal for graphic designers and software-based advertisers. third-party software, arguably Apple’s main target audience. That’s due to the lack of support for 32-bit apps on Apple’s latest operating system, and while many apps from Adobe and Microsoft now have 64-bit equivalents, many users save money from refuse to switch to a subscription-based model and keep using the old (but still good) software.

You may also find that you cannot run drivers that use kernel extensions due to other changes introduced in Catalina, which could render your hardware useless.

Even if you find yourself unaffected by the lack of 32-bit apps, users claim to run Apple’s latest Mac-focused update on older (but still supported) software. will cause serious performance issues compared to older versions of macOS.

Whatever your reason for wanting to downgrade, it should be noted that it’s a bit more complicated than the upgrade process – when your Mac is running the latest version of macOS, it won’t let you simply install older version. That’s not to say there isn’t a way, but it becomes even more difficult if you don’t already have an existing Time Machine backup.

How to downgrade from macOS Catalina

You have two choices when downgrading from macOS Catalina: use Time Machine or the bootable installer. Whichever option you choose, you should back up any data/documents stored on your Mac that you want to keep as you’ll be wiping your hard drive completely in the process. You can use online options like iCloud or Google Drive to back up important documents, or if you have an external hard drive (we list the best external hard drives separately), you can store a large amount of data on it.

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While Time Machine is often a handy option for backing up files and apps on your Mac, unfortunately, you can’t use it for this purpose. As we explain below, Time Machine not only backs up your documents and data, but it also backs up the macOS version, so if you restore from a Catalina backup, you’ll reinstall Catalina.

Using the Time Machine

Time Machine is the easiest way to downgrade to an earlier version of macOS, providing a quick and easy way to back up documents, data, apps, Settings, and even Mac software itself on any drive. external disk, but there’s one thing to keep in mind: you’ll need to use Time Machine from before you upgrade to Catalina.

If you don’t have a Time Machine backup yet, move on to the next section.

Before we walk you through the steps of using Time Machine to downgrade from macOS Catalina, you should note that you will be wiping everything on your startup disk. While all documents and data from your backup are safe, you will lose any data you’ve saved on your Mac since upgrading to Catalina. We recommend using one of the cloud-based storage services above or an external hard drive (separate from the Time Machine drive) to back up any documents, music, or photos you’ve saved on your Mac. .

When you’re ready, follow these steps to downgrade using Time Machine:

  1. Plug your Time Machine drive into your Mac.
  2. Turn on your Mac and immediately hold Command + R until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen.
  3. When the Restore options appear, select ‘Restore from a Time Machine backup’ and click Continue.
  4. Then the Restore from Time Machine header will appear – click Continue again.
  5. Select your Recovery Source. This should be the external hard drive with your Time Machine backups.
  6. You will then see a list of all the Time Machine backups on the drive. Select the last backup before upgrading to macOS Catalina (or earlier, if you want to revert to a similar version of High Sierra) – the macOS version will be displayed with the date and time of each backup .
  7. Your backup will then be restored, which can take a while depending on how much data is stored on the external drive and how it’s connected to your Mac.

Once done, your Mac will restart and run the older version of Mac software.

Use the bootable installer

Using Time Machine might be the easiest way to reinstall an older version of macOS, but it’s not the only way to do it. You can still install macOS Mojave – or an earlier version – but you’ll have to completely erase your hard drive in the process, so be sure to back up any important documents and data before you begin. progress. Remember, you can’t use Time Machine here as it will restore the current version of macOS you’re running, not the older system you’re after.

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The first stage of using the bootable installer is to use the installer for your desired version of macOS. If you want to downgrade to Mojave, the previous version of macOS, it’s a simple process, but reverting to High Sierra or an earlier version is more difficult.

In essence, you’ll only be able to download the Mojave installer through the Mac App Store if you’re running Catalina. If you want to revert to an older operating system, you’ll have to find a friend running an older version of macOS and have them download the installer for you. That, or risk downloading it online, but we would be wary of downloading installers from less reputable sources.

It’s worth noting that this will work with macOS Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra – if you want to go back to Sierra or earlier, you’ll have to follow a slightly different process due to different storage systems. We outline that a little later.

But first, if you want to downgrade from macOS Catalina to Mojave or High Sierra using a bootable drive, follow these steps:

  1. Download the macOS installer of your choice. If this is Mojave, it can be downloaded via the Mac App Store, but High Sierra installers will have to be sourced elsewhere (as stated above).
  2. After downloading, don’t click Open.
  3. Next, create a bootable installer on the memory stick. Our sister site Macworld UK has a detailed guide on how to create a bootable macOS installation drive for those unaware of the process.
  4. Connect the bootable installer to your Mac.
  5. Open System Preferences > Startup Disk and select the external drive with your installer as the startup disk.
  6. Click Restart. Your Mac will then restart in Recovery mode.
  7. You’ll need an Internet connection during the installation, so plug in an Ethernet cable or connect to a local Wi-Fi network via the Wi-Fi icon in the toolbar.
  8. Select Reinstall macOS and click Continue.

Your Mac will then install the older operating system version with no further problems. It will then reboot and ask you to follow the setup for the first time, just like when you first bought it.

How to downgrade from APFS to HFS+

Downgrading from Catalina, Mojave, or High Sierra to an older system like Sierra is a bit more difficult due to the different file formats. Older versions of macOS and Mac OS X both use Apple’s HFS+ file format, while newer versions of macOS use Apple’s proprietary APFS file format. APFS can work fine with HFS+ files, but the same can’t be said the other way around, so you’ll have to completely reformat your drive before installing the macOS or Mac OS X version.

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As when reformatting any disk, you will lose access to all documents and data, but here it is more difficult because there is a chance that newer files that would work on APFS will not work when you are run older Mac software. This can be mitigated somewhat by saving your documents and data in a standard file format, but this may not be possible depending on the software you use.

So, if you want to switch from an APFS system like Catalina to an HFS+ system like Sierra, you’re likely to lose access to most of your documents and data, so make sure it does. worth downgrade.

If you’re happy to start over and are ready to use an older HFS+-enabled version of macOS or Mac OS X, follow these steps:

  1. Create a bootable installer using the Mac software you want to install, as outlined above.
  2. Turn on your Mac and hold Command + R until the Apple logo appears.
  3. Choose the bootable installer as your startup disk.
  4. Select Disk Utility and click Continue.
  5. Click Show All Devices.
  6. Select the internal Mac drive (not a bootable installer) and click Delete.
  7. Change the format from APFS+ to Mac OS Extended (Journalled) and change the name of your drive if you like. Click Continue to reformat the drive.
  8. Exit Disk Utility.
  9. Select Reinstall macOS and click Continue.
  10. Select the newly reformatted drive as the destination drive and click Continue.

Your Mac will then install the older version of the Mac software, ready for you to use!

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