How to downgrade to an older version of macOS

Installing the latest version of macOS is always tempting, full of new features and updates. Even so, you may find that once you go through the upgrade process, your system will not work properly.

Fortunately, you can drop back to the macOS version you ran before if you need to. However, the downgrade process is not as easy as it used to be. We will guide you on how to downgrade macOS Monterey or earlier to an older version of macOS.

Why might you want to downgrade macOS?

Apple has tried to make macOS upgrades as backward compatible as possible, but there are still some edge cases. Some types of hardware and software may not work correctly after the upgrade.

This is especially true when it comes to audio, video, and graphics-related hardware and software. For this reason, many vendors of this type of software will advise you not to upgrade your operating system in the middle of a project. However, you may realize that you need to go back to a previously completed project that won’t work on the latest version of macOS.

Before you downgrade, back up your data!

No matter which of the following methods you use to downgrade your macOS version, you will delete everything on your hard drive. To make sure that you don’t lose any valuable data during this process, the best thing for you to do is to back up your Mac’s entire hard drive.

You can back up with the built-in Time Machine service, although you must be careful if you use this option. One of the ways you can downgrade is by restoring an old Time Machine backup (if you have one available). If you do this and then want to restore a recent backup, be sure to only restore your personal data, so you don’t undo the downgrade.


After backup, here are different methods that you can use to downgrade your Mac.

1. Restore downgrade using macOS: Intel Mac only

If your Mac originally installed an older version of macOS, downgrading is fairly easy. This is because you can use the built-in macOS recovery tool to downgrade. Just make sure you’re online during the process, as the software will download a previous macOS version.

The process is similar to reinstalling macOS but will download the macOS version of your computer that originally shipped from the factory. If your PC is old, this will instead download the oldest version that is still available.

Make sure you have a full backup of your Mac first, as the following program will clear your startup disk:

1.  Turn off your Mac.

2.  You’ll notice that when macOS Recovery loads, the startup time is longer than normal.

3.  Once the macOS Utility screen loads, select Reinstall macOS (or Reinstall OS X) and tap Continue.

4.  Follow the prompts to select your startup disk. Now click on Install.

5.  Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the rest of the installation process.

6.  After the installation is complete, restore your files from the backup you created.


2. Downgrade using Time Machine backups

Using Time Machine Backup is another easy way to install older versions of macOS. Of course, the premise of this is that you are creating a backup on an older version of macOS.

To downgrade using a previous Time Machine backup, follow these simple instructions:

1.  Plug your Time Machine disk into your Mac and power it off or restart it.

2.  Boot your Mac into recovery mode. Press and hold Cmd + R on Intel Mac to enter macOS recovery mode. On Apple silicon Mac (M1 and M2 models), continue to press and hold the power button at startup until you see the Load boot options information. On the next screen, select the option to launch recovery mode.

3.  When the macOS Utility screen appears, select Restore from Time Machine Backup and tap Continue.

4.  On the next screen, tap Continue again.

5.  Select your recovery source. In this case, this is the backup drive that you inserted earlier.

6.  On the next screen, select the backup you want to restore. You will be able to see which version of macOS was used to create that backup.

7.  Follow the prompts to complete the reinstallation, and then restore your files from the backup you created.


You may not need to downgrade macOS at all

If you’re thinking about downgrading your macOS version because your computer is getting slower, you might want to reconsider that decision. While this may fix your speed issue, you may have gone through all the troubles only to find that your Mac still feels slow. So, try cleaning up your hard drive and reducing your startup apps for you to get better performance from your Mac in the first place.

When all other standard troubleshooting measures fail, downgrading your Mac should always be considered a last resort.