How to Downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks

“Can I downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks?” is a common question after updating to the new version of software for your Mac.

We’ll show you two ways to downgrade to Mavericks on your Mac.

Keep in mind that any changes you made will not be there when you downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks, but if you do it right you can keep most of your data. If you are looking at this before you upgrade, make sure you create a good Time Machine Backup and try to figure out if you should upgrade instead of trying it and going back.

Apple officially supports one way to downgrade to OS X Mavericks from OS X Yosemite and we’ll show you another option that will work if you don’t have a time machine backup.

Learn how to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks.
Learn how to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks.

If you decide you want to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks you will need to set aside time, you will need a backup and you will need patience. It is far easier to upgrade to a new version than to downgrade.

We’ll show you how to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks using a backup, or by manually downgrading and keeping your files backed up elsewhere.

How to Downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks

This is the easy way to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to Mavericks. You will need a Time Machine Backup of your Mac on OS X Mavericks. If you don’t have this skip ahead.

You also need to copy and save all your files from OS X Yosemite. You cannot restore a Yosemite Time Machine backup after you switch back to Mavericks.

With the Time Machine drive plugged in or available on the network you will need to follow these steps to downgrade to Mavericks.

Click on the Apple in the Upper Left and choose Restart.

When the Mac is restarting press the Command ⌘ and R keys at the same time. You can press this as soon as the restart begins, but you need to be pressing them when the screen turns gray.

Choose Restore from a Time Machine Backup to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to Mavericks.Choose Restore from a Time Machine Backup to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to Mavericks.
Choose Restore from a Time Machine Backup to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to Mavericks.

On the next screen choose Restore from a Time Machine Backup and click Continue.

Click on your Time Machine disk and then choose the backup you want to restore to. Make sure it is one with Mavericks. You can identify this using the date you backed up and when you updated.

After you choose the backup, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation and restore from backup.

This is the easiest way to downgrade from OS X Yosemite to OS X Mavericks. If you don’t have a Time Machine backup you can keep reading for more details.

OS X Yosemite Downgrade to Mavericks

Without a backup you can still downgrade but you need a USB drive, you need to manually backup all of your files and it is going to take much longer. You will essentially create a clean install of OS X Mavericks and then move your files back to your computer. Be careful using this option as updates like this can change file structures and libraries used in apps like iPhoto etc.

Download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store. This is a large file and may take a while to complete. You need this before you can start. You should be able to open the Mac App Store, click on Purchases, find OS X Mavericks, click Download, click Continue and then wait for the download to complete.

This will complete an OS X Yosemite downgrade to OS X Mavericks.
This will complete an OS X Yosemite downgrade to OS X Mavericks.

After this is done do not click install on any pop up that you see. You need to make sure you have all of your files and data backed up. This next step will delete your data.

  1. Plug in your USB drive and open Disk Utility.
  2. Select the USB drive in the sidebar and click on the Erase tab.
  3. Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) in the Format box and name it Untitled (It should already be named that).
  4. Click Erase and wait for the format to finish.
  5. When it’s done, close Disk Utility and open Terminal. Type in the following command and press Enter:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app –nointeraction

After this completes you need to follow the second part of the directions on our clean install OS X guide to wipe your hard drive and install OS X Mavericks. When this is done you will see OS X Mavericks instead of Yosemite.

11 Comments

  1. Judy

    10/20/2014 at 7:32 pm

    The 2nd method won’t work on a machine that is already running Yosemite. The App Store will allow your to spend 4 hours downloading Mavericks, but then send a message that this application is too old to open on this machine.

    Reply

    • key

      10/29/2014 at 7:06 am

      ever figured it out?

      Reply

  2. Jeff Handel

    10/22/2014 at 6:34 pm

    I cannot find OS X Mavericks anywhere in the App Store. I upgrade from 10.7 straight to Yosemite without downloading Mavericks. I need to downgrade to use Aperture – how can I find Mavericks?

    Reply

  3. Thomas

    10/28/2014 at 7:08 am

    The app store won’t allow you to even find the Mavericks page if you’re running Yosemite. How do we get our hands on it?

    Reply

  4. key

    10/29/2014 at 7:05 am

    If U Answer All Of the following Q. Above That Would Be Freakin Great Josh

    Reply

  5. Luis

    10/29/2014 at 10:03 pm

    So I have done all of this. I didn’t have a mavericks timemachine back up, only a Yosemite timemachine back up. So I created a mavericks boot drive and then did a clean install of mavericks. Now my computer is officially back in mavericks. The problem is now I want to all my files back and I don’t know how. After I got mavericks back I went I to recovery mode and tried to restore my files from my time machine but it just restored it back to Yosemite. So how do I restore my files and still keep mavericks?

    Reply

    • Justin Y

      11/04/2014 at 3:31 am

      I’m having issues. What exactly did you do to get yours to run on mavericks?

      Reply

  6. Lieuwke

    11/11/2014 at 4:12 pm

    This worked for me, even though it took some 25 hours for the downgrade!

    Reply

  7. zac

    12/04/2014 at 3:18 am

    If you can’t find maverick on the App Store or have having problems with the quit message after downloading then follow tese steps.

    For not being able to find in app store:
    go to purchases, should be there, click download.

    If the message comes up after:

    go to finder/applications/ there should be a file saying install mavericks OS X. Copy that over.

    Hope this helps.

    Reply

  8. Dennis May

    05/06/2015 at 12:34 pm

    Josh, I appreciate your comments on downgrading from Yosemite to Mavericks, but I’m totally lost.
    I don’t have a time machine backup with mavericks (actually I do but it’s from a year ago and I don’t want to go back that far). My time machine backups are with Yosemite. An the reason I want to revert is the spinning beach ball. I can’t do anything without getting the spinning ball. So if I understand I can download Mavericks from the already purchased section of the app store, put it on a USB drive, backup all of my files, and applications, and then wipe the HDD. Restart and boot with the Mavericks USB drive, and then put all the copied files and applications (programs) back on the HDD. Is that it? How do I save all the applications and files if not with time machine?

    Reply

  9. DJ Mark Young

    06/09/2015 at 1:32 pm

    i just installed Yosemite and lost final cut pro and aperture long with a few other programmes without any warning … not happy at all … im simply gonna make a genius appointment and see if they can help

    Reply

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