Load old macOS installer files with the terminal

At least under macOS 10.15 Catalina it is now possible to download complete installer files from old macOS versions via the terminal. In the following I will show you the command line required for this as well as a list with the individual versions of old Apple operating systems. So you can download the correct installer for the Mojave downgrade as well as earlier system versions for your old Mac, iBook or the like. Learn how to downgrade from Catalina to Mojave Is there ... here; a list of the App Store download sources for old macOS installers i have here for you.

Load old macOS installer files with the terminal - this is very easy with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Here you can find the command and the necessary version numbers.

Load old macOS installer files with the terminal - this is very easy with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Here you can find the command and the necessary version numbers.

New terminal command "fetch-full-installer" under macOS Catalina

With the current operating system for Apple computers, macOS 10.15 Catalina, there is a new one Port-Command to quickly and easily pull installer files from Apple's servers. I just tried the command line on macOS 10.14 Mojave - and it didn't work. So this ability to download installer files is really limited to the latest system at the moment. If you have this, you can load old macOS installer files with the following command line in the terminal (instead of “VERSION NUMBER” enter the number combination):

$ softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version VERSION NUMBER

For version number, for example, you can enter "10.14.6" to download the latest Mojave version. The addition ".6" after 10.14 refers to the added system update. This is especially important if you download the installer for a Mac, iMac or MacBook that does not have an Internet connection and therefore cannot load bug fixes and patches.

“Downloading and installing” does not mean installing

If you enter the command and confirm with Enter, then (with the version number above as an example) “Downloading and installing 10.14.6 installer” is displayed - as well as the line “Installing: xx%” with the corresponding download progress. But don't let this mislead you into assuming that the terminal will now automatically downgrade. Nothing is installed, only the installer is stored on the hard drive as a download;)

List of macOS versions with the latest update version

A list of the installers of old macOS and Mac OS X versions that are gradually disappearing from the App Store you can find here. In the post from March 2019, however, I only listed the regular version numbers for you. In the following table I add the latest versions so that you can download the last major update for the placeholder "VERSION NUMBER" in the terminal command above.

Mac OS X or macOS Version number Latest version
Snow Leopard 10.6 10.6.8
Leo 10.7 10.7.5
Mountain Lion 10.8 10.8.5
Mavericks 10.9 10.9.5
Yosemite 10.10 10.10.5
El Capitan 10.11 10.11.6
Sierra 10.12 10.12.6
High Sierra 10.13 10.13.6
Mojave 10.14 10.14.6

Source: Wikipedia

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7 comments

  1. Stefan Schepers says:

    ... do not copy the $ character into the terminal.
    Currently only the downloads of 10.13.6 and 10.14.6 go this way ...
    ( 03.04.2020 )
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.11.6
    Downloading and installing 10.11.6 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.12.6
    Downloading and installing 10.12.6 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.13.6
    Downloading and installing 10.13.6 installer
    Install finished successfully
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.14.6
    Downloading and installing 10.14.6 installer
    Install finished successfully
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.15.3
    Downloading and installing 10.15.3 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.10.5
    Downloading and installing 10.10.5 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.9.5
    Downloading and installing 10.9.5 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.8.5
    Downloading and installing 10.8.5 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.7.5
    Downloading and installing 10.7.5 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found
    steff @ steffs-imac-27 ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.6.8
    Downloading and installing 10.6.8 installer
    Install failed with error: Update not found

  2. Flo's says:

    Hallo,

    Great idea, but the terminal only gives a description of the command and the optional arguments behind it.
    "softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.14.6"
    ** Manage updates:
    ....

    The OS X Mojave installer does not start downloading

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Flo! I have just tried it with myself as an admin user under Catalina:
      jenss-mbp-2: ~ jens $ softwareupdate –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.14.6
      Downloading and installing 10.14.6 installer

      So works wonderfully. I have no idea what your Mac is doing. Are you maybe not an admin? Usually the explanation of the command comes when you have typed something wrong. Then it recognizes which command you want to use, but cannot do anything with the arguments behind it.

  3. Hansjörg says:

    Hello, I'm logged in as an admin. When I open the terminal, the active line looks like this:
    Last login: Wed Sep 16 08:24:08 on ttys000
    hansgeorgbritz-mauch @ Hanss-MacBook-Pro ~%

    I will now enter the command you mentioned:
    software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.14.6, the terminal input is now:
    Last login: Wed Sep 16 08:24:08 on ttys000
    hansgeorgbritz-mauch @ Hanss-MacBook-Pro ~% software update –fetch-full-installer –full-installer-version 10.14.6

    I only get a list of the commands from Terminal:
    usage: software update [...]

    ** Manage updates:
    -l | –List List all appropriate update labels (options: –no-scan, –product-types)
    -d | –Download Download Only
    -e | –Cancel-download Cancel a download
    -i | –Install Install
    … Specific updates
    -a | –All All appropriate updates
    -R | Restart Automatically restart (or shut down) if required to complete installation.
    -r | –Recommended only recommended updates
    –Fetch-full-installer Install the latest macOS installer
    –Full-installer-version The version of macOS to install. Ex: –full-installer-version 10.15
    -Background trigger a background scan and update operation
    –Ignore… Ignore specific updates
    –Reset-ignored Clear all ignored updates

    ** Other tools:
    –Dump-state Log the internal state of the SU daemon to /var/log/install.log
    –Evaluate-products Evaluate a list of product keys specified by the –products option
    –History Show the install history. By default, only displays updates installed by software update.
    –All include all processes in history (including app installs)

    ** Option:
    -No-scan Do not scan when listing or installing updates (use available updates previously scanned)
    -Product-types Limit a scan to a particular product type only - ignoring all others
    Ex: –product-types macOS || –Product-types macOS, Safari
    -Products A comma-separated (no spaces) list of product keys to operate on.
    –Force Force an operation to complete. Use with -background to trigger a background scan regardless of "Automatically check" pref

    –Verbose Enable verbose output
    –Help Print this help

    hansgeorgbritz-mauch @ Hanss-MacBook-Pro ~%

    Do you have any idea what I'm doing wrong here?
    Thank you for the information.
    Many greetings, Hansjörg

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Hansjörg! The command was garbled by the Mac. He has simply make an em dash from two hyphens made. The correct command is like this:

      softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version 10.14.6

      However, this throws a download error in my terminal. Maybe Apple took the version off the server or something.
      PS: The representation of the two hyphens is apparently also destroyed by WordPress. I have to see how I can get it right here.

  4. Andy says:

    works for me. But I want to download 10.12.6. That will not do. How so?

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