I just re-downloaded El Capitán off of the App Store for the purposes of transferring it to another machine via USB. When it was done downloading, it automatically launched the installer asking me to click on continue to start installing El Capitán. I do not wish to reinstall, so I quit the installer, but now I cannot find it. Where would the App Store have downloaded it to?

6 Answers 6


When finished, it puts them in the Applications folder.

OS installers are all called "Install OS X [OS Name]" which might not be what you expected, if you're looking alphabetically for instance for El Capitan.

Prior to completion they are squirrelled away deep inside /private/var/folders & not easy at all to find.

  • 1
    At this folder, search for appstore and your file probably will be something like encrypted0000000000.pkg. Dec 15, 2016 at 11:53

For me it was: /private/var/folders/yy/v7l5q9l962j23_n6ttp9cxw00000gn/C/com.apple.appstore/1127487414/iyu1194865269351609080.pkg

To find it out for yourself, open "Activity Monitor" -> Select the process "storedownloadd" -> Open files and Ports -> then you should see the path.

enter image description here

  • 2
    This seems like the temp file that then get's moved to /Applications/Install macOS XX
    – ClintM
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:37

Since the location is generated in a different spot, you have to crawl the filesystem to locate the folder(s) that contain these files.

cd /private/var/folders
sudo find . -name "com.apple.appstore"

# This will throw some errors due to inaccessible directories, so it may be
# better to use
sudo find /private/var/folders -name "com.apple.appstore" 2>/dev/null

# or, making use of the fact that the result will be within TMPDIR
ls -d $TMPDIR../C/com.apple.appstore 

If you copy the location and type “open “ with a space and paste the copied location, you should see that folder in finder.


I did steps mentioned by hphinc from here https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4234582

  • Start the download
  • From terminal, execute the following command: lsof | grep -i pkg
  • This will give you a result like: /private/var/folders/lt/05z7qkqs0r33x7t3khp2bxm00000gp/C/com.apple.appstore/497 799835/dge2261667518591136895.pkg
  • The last column is the full path to the package it is currently downloading. In this case, it's: /private/var/folders/lt/05z7qkqs0r33x7t3khp2bxm00000gp/C/com.apple.appstore/4977 99835/

Ever since macOS Catalina (10.15), Apple implemented a separate appstored (daemon) and appstoreagent processes, which are I believe responsible for handling files and downloading in the background.

In contrast to Mojave and earlier, you will now see an additional folder while downloading files from the App Store. Once you click GET or UPDATE and run the following command, you can confirm having two instead of one App Store related folder:

ls -d $TMPDIR../C/com.apple.appstore*


This agent folder is the newer location where the temporary subfolder resides for preflight and downloading the actual package ; until installed.


On Catalina try finding the files in /Library/Updates/

You can use this Terminal.app command

softwareupdate -d --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version 10.15.7

the -d will download only

I suggest reading the man page man softwareudpate

Be aware that these are not "Clickable" installers. You will have to use Terminal and the software update -install command

Updates downloaded with --download can be subsequently installed with --install, or through the App Store (as long as they remain applicable to your system). Updates are downloaded to /Library/Updates, but are not designed to be installed by double-clicking the packages in that directory: always use --install or the App Store to actually perform the install.

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