We have an older iMac (Model A1311, Mid 2011). It has been running Yosemite. We have run into some of the WIFI issues associated with Yosemite.

Is it possible to upgrade to El Capitan but not Sierra?

El Cap has been out longer. Its my wife's computer, its older, and I really don't want to be debugging Sierra until a few more "dot" releases come out.

  • 1
    In our case, we had a computer that had originally come with El Capitan, that we had downgraded to Yosemite. To get it back to El Capitan (instead of Sierra), we needed to do an internet recovery. This resets it to the OS that was originally used.
    – S.L. Barth
    Jan 17 '17 at 15:08

You don't have to upgrade to macOS Sierra if you don't want to.

Already "Own" El Capitan

If you have already "purchased" El Capitan, then it will show up under the "Purchased" tab of the App Store. By "purchased" I mean the "free download" that Apple provided.

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Download from the AppStore

Per Apple Support, you can download El Capitan directly from the AppStore

Go to an Apple Store

If you still can't download, you can take a visit to an Apple Store near you, or you could have a friend download it (if they already purchased it) and make a USB installer.

  • I thought El Cap was free? Oct 15 '16 at 21:16
  • @BentChainRing, It is, but you sill have to had downloaded it from the App Store and it shows under Purchased. Oct 15 '16 at 21:17
  • Are you saying that if I don't want to "auto upgrade" to Sierra, my only option is to go to the Apple Store and have them upgrade the iMac with El Cap? Oct 15 '16 at 21:20
  • oops our comments crossed... Oct 15 '16 at 21:20
  • 1
    Actually, El Capitan is an exception to that rule. Apple has left it available for machines that can't run Sierra. There's a QA on here already regarding this, but on iPhone right now & can't track it down.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 16 '16 at 4:25

Apple has a support document specifically for this: Upgrade to OS X El Capitan


None of this works if your machine CAN upgrade to Sierra. There is no path for people who need El Capitan but haven't already got it.

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