I can't reinstall El Capitan from AppStore because of this:

error dialog

and CmdR only suggest to reinstall macOS Sierra.

  • 7
    Golden Rule - don't put a beta OS on a mission-critical machine. Use a clone, because even Time Machine cannot roll back to an earlier OS, unless you take the precaution to remove it as you update.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 14, 2016 at 11:53
  • 2
    In addition to the Golden Rule mentioned, one should not upgrade to a new OS without first knowing how and what it takes to revert to the previous OS and have the tools necessary in place before preforming the upgrade! Jun 14, 2016 at 12:44
  • if you switch off SIP (System Integrity Protection), this older solution here on AskDifferent should still work: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/159419/…
    – Redarm
    Jun 15, 2016 at 17:33

5 Answers 5


macOS is not designed to be downgradable, and as such you cannot downgrade it through an installer like this. You will need to create a bootable install disk (Apple support), e.g. by running

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app 

to install on a drive called MyVolume. Running this will lose you all your content, so you will need to have a backup if you want to retain your files. Otherwise, wait Sierra out…


The preferred way is to do a Restore from Time Machine. Your next option is to do a clean install OS X from USB or other install media; meaning wipe the HDD and install.

  • 1
    Topic starter wants to roll back without Time Machine.
    – rwzdoorn
    Jun 14, 2016 at 11:37
  • 1
    @rwzdoorn That's from Apple and it obviously bears repeating. There's also a second sentence to my answer.
    – Allan
    Jun 14, 2016 at 11:40
  • Time machine doesn't work. You won't be able to select older installations if current is updated to latest one. Jul 28, 2016 at 20:23

Best way to downgrade to El Capitan:

  1. Make a new partition
  2. Reboot and hold down Command R to start Internet Recovery . This will clean install El Capitan.
  3. After installation, remove the partition of Sierra.

See official documentation of Apple about Internet Recovery


  • The Title of the question clearly states "without time machine". Jun 14, 2016 at 11:20
  • 1
    Edited, this is the solution WITHOUT time machine.
    – rwzdoorn
    Jun 14, 2016 at 11:34
  • @Allan, Why did you remove "Option" from the key sequence that rwzdoorn stated? Jun 14, 2016 at 12:20
  • @user3439894 Because per the article he linked, it says Cmd+R, not Cmd+Option+R.
    – Allan
    Jun 14, 2016 at 12:32
  • 1
    @user3439894 His tactic is to create a new empty partition (assumes there's space), install OS X there via Internet Recovery, then remove the Sierra partition. I also assume he intends for the user to resize the new partition once done to utilize the full disk, but this is not indicated.
    – Allan
    Jun 14, 2016 at 13:00

Ok so i just bought this macbook pro and i am really good with computers. However, this is my first mac. So the person i bought it from didnt know how to reboot it so i went online.

Command+R brings up the 4 option menu. I erased the hard drive and when i went to reinstall i wasnt able to install el capitan using my icloud id that i have for my ipad. It said temporarily not available.

So i got pissed and shut down the computer as everything i had read had not worked. After shutting it down i turned it back on and a folder with a question mark came on and couldnt get anywhere. Shut it down again.

Restarted it while holding down command+R and the internet system recovery began. Had to connect to wifi. BAMCIS it was that easy to get it to factory settings. It installed OS X LION and i then upgraded to Sierra. Only to realize that Serato Scratch live was not compatible with Sierra as i am running SL1 lol.

Anyways had to go back to OS X LION so same process erase hard drive. Shut down computer. Command+R to start internet system recovery go back to OS X Lion. Pretty simple method if you want to go back without a hastle or got a laptop off someone and are getting the temporarily not available message. Hope this helps.


this may seem like a bit of a hack, but you could try to use Unibeast to create a fresh OS X El Capitan installation disk, and boot your mac from it to install. Here is a step-by-step guide on creating this disk : http://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/unibeast-install-os-x-el-capitan-on-any-supported-intel-based-pc.172672/ This is basically intended for Intel-based PCs but it works like a charm on the Mac to perform rollbacks.

  • Why all of these down votes ? This works fine and does not need any Time Machine backups! I have already done this, it is straightforward and safe. Please kindly consider avoiding to hold the new members of the community back.
    – uiguig
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:35
  • I think the community is mad at the genuine of macOS that it comes shipped with/ Jul 28, 2016 at 20:32

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