Download Macos To External Drive

To download the macOS Catalina installer click on this link to be taken to the Catalina page on the Mac App Store. Step 3: Install macOS on the external drive. Many Mac hard drives break down and stop working. If you are upgrading or replacing a Mac hard drive and you don't have an operating system, this video will.

Have you ever thought of carrying your Mac OS on an external device and gain access to it at any time? If the reaction is yes, then you have arrived at the right post. We will be providing you with the information through which you can install macOS High Sierra on an external drive.

Part 1. How to Install macOS High Sierra on the External Drive

Before beginning the process, there are a few requisites that you must meet. You will need an external drive with a minimum capacity of 16 GB, and second, you will need the copy of the macOS High Sierra installer. You can obtain the installer from the App Store by searching for 'macOS' and download it to your Mac hard drive.

Step 1: Formatting the External Drive

To allow the external drive to function as the startup disk, you need to format it to Mac OS Extended and employ GUID partition map. Start the utility disk. You can find it under the Applications category or search it using Spotlight.

As utility disk runs in the background, you can check for the format of the external drive. In the following example, the drive is in Master Boot Record format. First, unmount the drive. After unmounting, you can select the same drive from the left of the window as shown in the figure below. Now, from the tabs that appear in right window, choose 'Erase' option.

In the next window, you can now format the external drive as 'Mac OS Extended' and opt for GUID Partition Map. If you choose to, you can also give it a name. Press 'Erase' to proceed. After completion, you will see the following screen. Press 'Done' to proceed.

Step 2: Installing macOS High Sierra on the External Drive

Download Macos To External Drive

After you complete the download of the macOS installer, double click the same from the Applications folder to begin the installation procedure. Press 'Continue' in the following screen.

Click 'Agree' to the accept license agreement. In the next window, press the 'Show all disks' option. The window will display the local drive and the connected external drive. Choose the external drive in this case. You will have to key in your system user name and password.

macOS High Sierra will begin installing on the selected external hard disk. It requires some time to complete the task. You can wait until the process is complete. Before it completes the installation, the Mac will restart. Therefore, it is preferable to save any other work that is in progress.

After restarting, the Mac will take a minimum of 15 minutes to complete the installation process. It will then reboot from the new device. You then have to proceed with the general process of activating Siri, time zone, and adding the user account. Once you complete these actions, you will possess the new version of macOS High Sierra on your external drive. Do not remove the external drive, as Mac OS will access the files on the drive periodically. You can now use the same every time you wish to use High Sierra.

Part 2. How to Use macOS High Sierra with the Bootable Hard Drive

As you now have macOS High Sierra in the form of bootable hard drive, you can use it with another compatible Mac or when the situation demands. However, remember that using the external device as a bootable drive will slow down the functioning of the system. More importantly, it is useful only when you are facing trouble with your existing internal drive of the Mac.

The following information will be helpful in case if you choose to use macOS High Sierra with the bootable hard drive:

Step 1: If there is a trouble with the current hard disk, and you wish to solve it or use the new version of the OS, then plug the bootable external drive to the Mac.

Step 2: Power on the machine and hold the option button until you notice the recovery screen appear. From the screen, you can choose the bootable external device that you have created.

Step 3: You will boot into the macOS High Sierra version for that particular session.

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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.

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

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

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

Boot

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

External Hard Drive For Mac

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

How To Download Macos Onto External Hard Drive

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.

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