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I have a 2012 MacBook Pro (so yes it's capable of Mavericks). I have only Yosemite currently installed on the drive. I have an app I need to run that does not seem to properly support Yosemite, so I want to install Mavericks on a second partition to setup a dual boot environment.

I do not presently have access to a spare USB drive that can be erased to create installation media nor do I have any blank double-layer DVD discs.

I have already used disk utility to resize and create my extra partition. However, I am not able to actually start the OSX Mavericks installation. The error is "This copy of the Install OS X application is too old to be opened on this version of OS X."

I need to get this done for a college project due in the next couple of days and won't have access to a flash drive that can be erased and used for install media within that time. Is there anything I can do, say from the terminal, to force the installation of Mavericks to proceed onto the second partition?

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    Pretty sure you can't install from a running system onto a spare partition, you'd have to run from USB - so flash drive, fiver, nearest supermarket. – Tetsujin Dec 4 '14 at 18:21
  • ... or buy a dual layer DVD. Or if you had access to another Mac running Maverick or older, you could remove the harddrvie from your MBP, put it in an external enclosure, plug it into the older OS Mac, and install Maverick from there onto your other partition. – Flying Trashcan Dec 4 '14 at 19:37
  • Do you have a backup of the Mac that's current? Edit out the DVD - they are a world of hurt and take far longer than USB drives to work even if you managed to jump through all the correct hoops there. – bmike Dec 5 '14 at 17:24
  • @Tetsujin you may upgrade a RUNNING system. So why shouldn't it possible to install it somewhere else? – klanomath Dec 5 '14 at 19:14
  • @klanomath I've never tried - but it doesn't ask you normally if you launch the update from that system, that's the system it updates…. [I always clone a drive before update, belt & braces, true paranoia, so it's not something I've ever had happen] If it's trying to 'update' to an older OS, i'd expect an error like the OP says. Look around the menus, see if there's an 'install over this one instead' option, otherwise it's boot from USB. – Tetsujin Dec 5 '14 at 19:20
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You have to cheat the Mavericks Installer by running it on a "pre-Yosemite" system. The system version is determined by the key "ProductVersion" and the associated string in the file SystemVersion.plist. Replacing the 10.10.x string with 10.9.x or 10.8.x will do the trick.

Beware: After manipulating said file you can't open most of the current apps anymore.

Prerequisites:

  • a current backup of your Mac
  • already downloaded OS X Mavericks Installer
  • a Mac capable of running Mavericks

Age your system:

  1. Log-out any other user and log-in with your admin account.

  2. Quit any running app and open the folder containing the Mavericks installer.

  3. Open Terminal.app.

  4. Make a backup copy of SystemVersion.plist first by entering:

    sudo cp /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist.backup
    

    and hit
    enter your admin password and hit (the password won't be visible!)

  5. Modify SystemVersion.plist:

    sudo nano /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist
    

    nano

    change the both strings 10.10.1 (or 10.10.0) to 10.8.1 or 10.8.0

    write the changes to disk with ctrlO followed by and exit nano with ctrlx

  6. Recheck the successful change by entering:

    cat /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist 
    
  7. Enter exit, hit and quit Terminal.app.

  8. Start Install OS X Mavericks and choose your already created second partition to install to. You may have to click "Show all partitions" if your second partition isn't visible initially.

  9. After installation and configuration of Mavericks is finished revert the changes of SystemVersion.plist on the Yosemite partition:

Rejuvenate the Yosemite system:

  1. Open Terminal.app in your Mavericks admin account and enter:

    sudo rm /Volumes/NameOfYourYosemitePartition/System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist
    

    and hit
    enter your admin password and hit (the password won't be visible!)

    then enter

    sudo mv /Volumes/NameOfYourYosemitePartition/System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist.backup /Volumes/NameOfYourYosemitePartition/System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist
    

    and hit

  2. Enter exit, hit and quit Terminal.app.

If the install fails and you are urged to boot to Yosemite (which probably fails), try to boot to Recovery Mode or Internet Recovery Mode, revert the changes of the file SystemVersion.plist on the Yosemite volume from the command line in the same manner as described for the successful Mavericks install in step 10.
Then restart from scratch.

(Tested in a Yosemite VM...works)

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Pretty sure you can't install from a running system onto a spare partition

correct

you could remove the harddrvie from your MBP, put it in an external enclosure, plug it into the older OS Mac, and install Maverick from there onto your other partition.

does not work: The new to install OS has to install by making disk space bootable (thus format the "partition" space for it). Use a bootable stick, and install into the new partition.

  • Surely you can install Yosemite from a running Mavericks system onto a spare partition. It is just the other way around that will not work. – Tom Gewecke Dec 5 '14 at 20:43

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