Home Apple How to Downgrade to OS X Yosemite from El Capitan

How to Downgrade to OS X Yosemite from El Capitan

If you updated your Mac to OS X El Capitan, but aren’t too fond of the new version and would rather downgrade to OS X Yosemite, here’s how to do it.

OS X El Capitan was officially released today and many users are already running the new version of OS X, which isn’t too surprising as it comes with a bevy of new features that users can take advantage of.

There’s a new Split View multitasking feature that allows users to snap windows to the sides and run two apps at once (similar to Windows’ Aero Snap feature). Of course, you were able to do this before, but you would have to manually resize the windows instead of them automatically resizing for you.

There’s also new swipe gestures that you can use across a handful of apps, like Mail and Safari, making it easier to manage email, as well as pin tabs in Safari to save them for later.

Read: How to Perform a Clean Install of OS X El Capitan

In OS X El Capitan, there’s also better Spotlight Search results and improvements all around, and it can now show you weather, sports scores, and more information that it wasn’t able to provide in the past.

However, new features aside, if you’re not a big fan of the update or are having issues with the new version of OS X, you can actually downgrade to OS X Yosemite, and there are a couple of ways to do it.

Downgrade to OS X Yosemite

No matter which method you choose for downgrading, it’s important that you have a backup of your Mac, either with Time Machine or some other backup service, but the first method that I’ll describe requires that you have a Time Machine backup.

OS-X-Yosemite

This method simply involves restoring a Time Machine backup to a point where you had OS X Yosemite, and it’s perhaps the easiest method to use in order to downgrade to OS X Yosemite.

If you already use Time Machine and have been using it, you most likely have the required backup needed, since it will automatically back up your Mac every day. However, before you begin, make sure to back up your Mac one last time before you begin the downgrading process. I would recommend taking all of your ultra-important files and transferring them to a USB drive separately from your Time Machine backup, just to be extra safe.

Now, you’ll want to restart your Mac and hold down Cmd+R. This will enter Recovery Mode. You can also hold Option/Alt and simply choose Recovery-10.11 from the menu that appears.

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At the OS X Utilities menu, click on Restore From Time Machine Backup and then plug in the hard drive that you use for Time Machine if it isn’t already. After that, click Continue.

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You’ll eventually see the Select a Backup Source screen, choose the Time Machine drive that you use for backups and then click Continue.

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The next screen will have you select a date and time that you want to revert back to. Select the latest date and time that you remember running OS X Yosemite on. You can easily see the OS X version off to the right-hand side. Click Continue.

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On the next screen you’ll choose a destination drive where you want to restore the backup to, which will be your main disk drive on your Mac, usually titled Macintosh HD. Click Restore to begin the downgrading process.

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The process could take a couple of hours, so sit back and relax while it does its thing. If you have a lot of data to restore, the process could easily take all day or night, so make sure you set plenty of time for your Mac to restore.

After it’s done, your Mac will automatically restart and you’ll now be running OS X Yosemite!

Alternative Method: Creating a USB Boot Drive

If you don’t use Time Machine to backup your Mac, then you’ll have to use this alternative method, which is a bit more complicated, but not too hard to do. Plus, it will completely wipe your Mac, so make sure that you have all of your important files backed up to a USB drive.

You’ll need the OS X Yosemite installer, so open the Mac App Store and click on the Purchased tab at the top. Scroll down to find OS X Yosemite and click Download next to it. This will download the OS X Yosemite installer. Keep in mind that Apple only allows you to do this for short time before they remove the installer from their servers, so eventually you won’t be able to use this method, but for now you still can.

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Next, you’ll need to create a bootable USB drive that will allow you to install OS X Yosemite over OS X El Capitan. This can easily be done using an app called DiskMaker X.

After you download and install the app, plug in a USB flash drive, open up DiskMaker X, and then click on OS X Yosemite 10.10. It will handle the rest for you and you’ll eventually be left with a bootable USB drive.

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Keep the drive plugged in and restart your Mac. Hold down the Option/Alt key as it reboots. This will bring up a menu where you’ll select a drive. Choose the USB drive that you just made.

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When you get to the Install OS X screen, go up to the menu bar at the top and navigate to Utilities > Disk Utility.

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Select your main hard drive in the left-hand sidebar (usually called Macintosh HD) and then click on the Erase tab. Make sure Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is selected in the Format field. Then give the hard drive a name (preferably Macintosh HD, but you can name it anything you want).

Click Erase in the lower-right corner to begin the wiping process. After it’s done, close out of Disk Utility, where you’ll be brought back to the Install OS X screen. Click Continue to install OS X Yosemite as you normally would.

This will give you a fresh copy of OS X Yosemite and you’ll now be downgraded from OS X El Capitan. If you ever want to update to El Capitan in the future, just visit the Mac App Store and download the new OS from there, or you can perform a clean install.

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42 Comments

  1. Peggy

    10/01/2015 at 5:07 am

    need to know what to do about the printer not working with the new OS X EL Capitan … need to know how to fix this???

    Reply

  2. Georgiaarapier

    10/01/2015 at 7:59 am

    0=5my classmate’s mother makes $78 every hour on the internet . She has been laid off for nine months but last month her check was $14234 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    find out here… See More

    Reply

  3. Yasir

    10/01/2015 at 5:02 pm

    Will the second option affect a bootcamp partition?

    Reply

  4. Doug

    10/05/2015 at 2:53 pm

    I downgraded back to Yosemite… and now none of my Office 2011 apps will launch. Any ideas? I’ve tried erasing every cache I can find and repairing permissions, but nothing works.

    Reply

  5. Mike Sinclair

    10/10/2015 at 3:57 am

    I tried this and when I click on the Yosemite installer on my Macbook Pro, I get the “no symbol” big white circle with line … What now? :(

    Reply

    • maydo

      11/26/2015 at 7:25 am

      hi same here, how did u fixed it ?

      Reply

  6. MartinD21

    10/17/2015 at 3:19 pm

    This OSX is available since this summer… and you don’t have any beta tester in your group…. wow… seriously?

    Reply

  7. JeanL

    10/19/2015 at 11:17 am

    Martin is right… beta public was available since this summer… no one from Serato have download the futur osx… Not very professional… Find a way to fix this, not to downgrade and have others problemes…

    Reply

  8. DJ Dynomike

    10/19/2015 at 5:22 pm

    please Serato get this right, downgrading really? Thats the solution? I got Halloween gigs coming up and I’m not risking the potential downgrading nightmare. This has a lot of DJ’s pulling there hair out, I know its not just me. Get your tech-lab rats motivated and fix this upgrade ASAP. More coffee or something stronger, lets see some work ethic from you guys eh? Were all strung out on Serato now and can’t jump ship in the middle of the ocean. Please fix this for your loyalist of customers. And SOON please!!!

    Reply

  9. D.A.

    10/19/2015 at 6:40 pm

    This is crazy, need a new driver ASAP!!!!! I have gigs all week and this is killing me. I’m having to cancel. PLEASE FIX AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

    Reply

  10. Luis

    10/22/2015 at 7:08 am

    No esta en la tienda OS X YOSIMTE porque lo sacaron ?????, necesito volver a yosimite, mi SERATO DJ no funciona con esta version OS X EL CAPITAN como solucione este problema ???? No tengo copia de seguridad con yosimite para volver atras……

    Reply

    • Ed

      10/25/2015 at 4:47 am

      Luis,
      Si en el pasado instaló su Yosemite a partir de Apple Apps, abriendo esa página, clickando en el título de sus programas “comprados” debería figurar Yosemite. En tal caso puede de nuevo cargarlo e instalarlo.
      Si no, debe recurrir a un amigo que lo instaló y tuvo la precaución de guardar el “Installer” en algun disco duro, ya que no se conserva al instalarlo, salvo si uno guarda una copia del “Installer” en otro lado.
      Espero que encuentre una solución. Si no, quizás alguien acá esté dispuesto a ponerle el “Installer” de Yosemite en una “Nube”, ya que es demasiado grande para enviarlo por mail.
      Saludos y buena suerte.
      Edmundo.

      Reply

  11. C

    10/25/2015 at 3:54 pm

    PLEASE FIX THIS

    Reply

  12. Yury

    10/28/2015 at 4:54 am

    I have not Time Machine backup. Will be working alternative method, if I have Boot Camp with Win7?
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply

  13. Bill

    10/28/2015 at 12:20 pm

    This is nuts. My back ups are with Time Machine on the WDmycloud drive that El Capitan won’t access. Catch 22. I need help with how to restore Yosemite without messing up my files. I CAN access the drive and other files, but not sure the restore will work. Will the restore erase the El Capitan and reuse the Yosemite or just my files? Not sure how Mac works on all that. Help needed.

    Reply

  14. Federico

    10/29/2015 at 9:51 am

    This is the best set of recommendations I have read so far. Many thanks for such valuable tips.

    Reply

  15. P

    10/30/2015 at 8:17 am

    El Capitan. What a freakin’ nightmare. Someone please help me. Point me to a SOLUTION group!

    Reply

  16. Duh

    11/01/2015 at 6:12 pm

    Get a PC and stop pretending OS X / Apple is the best…pssssst…it’s the new Windows ’95!

    Reply

  17. N/X

    11/06/2015 at 9:09 am

    The problem with El Capitan is that once installed, downgrading to a previous version of the OS is not so simple as it used to be. I don’t know if the author himself tried the simple time machine restore that he purports to work but I did and I’ve been looking for solutions to the mountain of other problems I’ve had ever since. While the problems with El Capitan and downgrading to Yosemite are not the authors fault, the poor information of this article most certainly is. If your readers wanted to know how to downgrade from Yosemite to Mavericks, this might have passed the sniff test. But considering all the problems I and everyone else has had trying to downgrade to Yosemite, reading this simple solution reworded from past OS versions, it is obvious the author himself merely gave a tutorial on what has always worked before without bothering to check his facts to see what works now. A simple downgrade from El Capitan to Yosemite will result in permissions errors galore and get ready to read “OS X needs to repair your library to run applications” time and time again.

    Reply

    • Anytime

      01/12/2016 at 4:59 am

      He’s right, whatever you do, FIGURE OUT A WAY TO WORK WITH EL CAPITAN.Trying to downgrade will result in more issues than you’re previously having and it’ll become a worse nightmare.Give Apple some time to workout the bugs and I am sure it’ll work itself out.

      Reply

  18. Loyal Serato user

    11/07/2015 at 11:52 am

    Something told me not to download El Capitan. I mean for god sakes the name is El capitan. Trying to get rid of these problem are like trying to catch El Chapo. At this point prayer is about the only thing I can do. Serato please help us! We are the loyal guys :'(

    Reply

  19. Mono Ceba

    11/08/2015 at 3:43 pm

    I’m simply lost…..as is my ability to touch any Bluetooth devices, all printers, or any of my useful photo editing apps and the new Photos is a painful joke…and takes over any other photo apps that used to work fine on Yosemite. I simply don’t have the time, nor wish to have to download assistant apps to get rid of “El Capitan” (which I now see don’t work, as well). There must be a simpler means to return to Yosemite other than the complicated ones posted. Thank God, my old laptop still works in a prior format…or my business would be dead. This is not something I’d have expected from Apple…User Friendly has become User Beware!……AND with no easy means to get rid of it! I’m simply lost. Mono Ceba

    Reply

  20. Mono Ceba

    11/08/2015 at 3:49 pm

    Oh, and if you entered your email address in order to post a comment….don’t worry about any functional help from the site….just plan on a shitload of ads and other aggravating info. If anyone out there comes up with a truly simple means to dump El Capitan and return to Yosemite; by all means, please forward such info. Thanks, Mono Ceba

    Reply

  21. Nuno Marques

    11/13/2015 at 11:30 am

    Meu DEUS quero o meu yosemite de volta porque com o El Capitan não funciona o meu Serato DJ

    Reply

  22. robert atherton

    11/18/2015 at 8:06 am

    I have no time machine back up…now what. This is a bad situation Apple. I have events booked and I need my music.

    Reply

  23. Manuele

    11/26/2015 at 4:21 am

    I have a question.
    Does this metod (and one) works also on new computers? I mean, I need to buy a new iMac but they have El Capitan already on it and I can’t use that because many software aren’t supported yet (and I work with those softwares!). Can I use the installer and terminal mode?

    Reply

  24. Marg

    11/30/2015 at 11:01 am

    I have older mac 2009, upgraded to El C. Clean install, restarted. Adobe, E reader, plug in device would not work. Tried everything, finally gave up and went back to Yosemite. now very very very slow.

    Reply

  25. DJROBOMIX

    12/29/2015 at 1:55 pm

    what a freaking bad thing el capitan sucks having serato dj with numark v7 don’t work…. WTF they do this i don’t wanna risk to downgrade to yosemite plz fix this i need my numark v7 back !!!

    Reply

  26. Glen A. Williamson

    01/11/2016 at 9:18 pm

    El Capitan slowed my mac way down. After reading the comments instead of going for the rollback, I tried reboot/reset (CMD + Shift).

    That almost did the trick, I can live with El Capitan!

    Thanks to the warning everyone…

    Reply

  27. abandjo

    01/14/2016 at 5:59 am

    I downgraded back to Yosemite with Time-machine. That went pretty well, but after a few days my Imac 2012 started to become very slow. Running Etre Check and learned that I was running low on RAM. Never had that problem before. Any ideas how to clean the system for once and for all?

    Reply

  28. Johnny

    02/04/2016 at 9:10 pm

    Alternative Method using DiskMakerX worked for me. Thanks

    Reply

  29. Supreme

    02/28/2016 at 9:45 pm

    I’am so disappointed and disgusted with El Capitan software of the future please get this problem fixed before I go to recordbox

    Reply

  30. Frank Marder

    03/25/2016 at 7:48 pm

    It’s a lot more complicated than this if you have mail stored On My Mac as they changed the internal structure. My guess is you will need to use a third party app like emailchemy to import the mail.

    Reply

  31. Chris

    04/08/2016 at 3:15 pm

    I can’t believe the problems with El Capitan. I thought upgrades were just that…UPgrades. This is crippling. I have a serious deadline (Sunday) and I cannot get my Mac to get the information to a USB device. REALLY, REALLY NEED A SOLUTION …FAST!

    Reply

  32. Dennis

    04/09/2016 at 5:46 pm

    I’ve spent hours and hours trying to fix the problems with my upgrade to OS 10.11.4. No luck. You’d think that apple could get this right as the problems are with Mail and iCloud and you’d think wrong. How many hours have we all collectively spent on this? Maybe Apple should have put more time in as this really degrades my experience which I’m not used to with Apple.

    Reply

    • Frank Marder

      04/09/2016 at 5:56 pm

      They have really screwed the pooch on this update. Seriously annoying and you can’t go back very easily.

      Reply

  33. B Phelps

    04/14/2016 at 9:41 pm

    This is why I hate to “upgrade”!!! I saw some new little feature and decided I had to have that and did the “upgrade”. I type a few lines in Safari, or with to another tab and WHAM! Beach ball for 20 seconds or more. Totally unworkable with video apps or GarageBand. I can’t downgrade to Yosemite without destroying all my files on my hard drive? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  34. Glen A. Williamson

    04/15/2016 at 10:48 am

    It seems to me that every time a new OSX comes out, there is a builtin need for greater resources, like more memory, faster processor, faster throughput like Thunderbolt 2, etc.

    After foolishly installing El Capitan–too soon, my 6 year old iMac, which had been showing signs of being near the End, was replaced with a newer/faster iMac. Ever since then, El Capitan hasn’t once flashed the dreaded “Wheel of Death.” It now hauls A…!

    Reply

  35. Daniel

    05/17/2016 at 4:16 pm

    I completely hate this new down load. Everything in computer screwing up. My emails are locked and will not except pass words. I cant now run Fureware it says out dated. Forced to upgrade in order to operate. Worst thing every.

    Reply

  36. Jero25

    07/04/2016 at 3:00 am

    Just wanted to add that the trick with a system installer on a usb stick (made with Diskmaker X) only worked for me when booting in recovery mode! (press cmd R right after startup from pendrive). WIthout recovery mode, the system hangs half way and does not start up. Tried with both Yosemite and El Capitan. So run in recovery mode, wait for Disk Utilities, then choose install.

    Reply

    • Franklin Marder

      07/04/2016 at 10:48 am

      I use a USB stick created using the command line createinstallmedia and just hold down the option key at startup and choose the USB stick. Works all of the time on dozens of systems.

      Reply

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