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MBP 13" Early 2015. Currently on Yosemite (10.10.5).

Mostly for Metal, I am interested in now upgrading to El Capitan (10.11.x). I have no interest in moving to macOS Sierra at this time. Apparently Apple is not really a fan of what I'm trying to do and has made it very difficult for me to just upgrade to El Capitan.

I do not have it listed in my "Purchased" tab of the app store. Further, the direct link to download El Capitan from Apple gives me a fun modal:

This version of OS X 10.11 cannot be installed on this computer.

Presumably this is because it is for Snow Leopard upgrades.

Anyway, any help on how to install El Capitan is appreciated. Googling has not been helpful.

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    Won't help this time, but in future always download the current OS, even if you're not going to use it. Your option now is to find a friend with a copy of the Updater/Installer. – Tetsujin Jan 18 '17 at 17:13
  • Just go to Sierra. It's really the same, but with Siri (which you can hide), some easy ways to clear up storage (which you can completely ignore and never see), Apple Watch auto-unlock (which is invisible) and better security (which is invaluable). – owlswipe Jan 18 '17 at 17:14
  • @owlswipe if I wanted to go to Sierra I would. Read the question. There are reasons I do not want to go to Sierra, and this is about going to El Capitan... Do you work for Apple or something? – Brian Morton Jan 18 '17 at 17:16
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    @Tetsujin thank you, I was just reading your previous answer on the topic at apple.stackexchange.com/questions/208801/… – Brian Morton Jan 18 '17 at 17:17
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    @BrianMorton - welcome:) With no axe to grind, Sierra has about settled down now; I finally bit the bullet & upgraded to 10.12.2, previously I'd tried it & gone back to El Cap every time. – Tetsujin Jan 18 '17 at 17:27
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After more research and other similar questions on Stack Exchange, I have come to the solution I was originally looking for.

This website provides some instructions, but more importantly direct links to the .pkg files for El Capitan on the osxapps.itunes.apple.com domain. You can then use the checksums from this git repo to verify the installers if you still feel something is fishy.

I also spent about an hour on webchat with Apple support trying to get El Cap added to my purchase history for my Apple ID, so I could just download it from the App Store, to no avail. Their official recommendation was to find it on a third party site. Couldn't believe it. They also noted that going into an Apple Store / Genius Bar may yield results with getting it installed (or any Apple Authorized store), at which point backup media could be created if it ever needed to be reinstalled.

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Apple removes the previous version of macOS from the Mac App Store whenever a new one comes out because it's in their best interest for customers to have the latest OS (for customer satisfaction, security, app developers, etc.). You do still have two options for updating to El Capitan if you don't want the latest Sierra:

  • Get a copy of the El Capitan installer from a friend who has it
  • Find it in your Purchased section of the Mac App Store if you downloaded it before, or start Family Sharing with a trusted friend/spouse who upgraded their Mac to El Capitan (from there you can see your friend's purchase history in the Mac App Store and download the El Capitan updater).

Note: If you do start Family Sharing with a friend, make sure to stop sharing after you get the download you want or else your friends will be able to remotely wipe/lock your device and see your location at all times with Find My Friends or Find My iPhone.

  • Thank you for the answer, your listed solutions are certainly viable for some people but not me. I don't know anyone else with a Mac + El Cap, or with it in their purchase history for family sharing. Also, upgrading to Sierra (the "latest OS") because it's in Apple's best interest doesn't necessarily mean it's in my best interest, which frequently seems lost among folks in the Apple community. – Brian Morton Jan 19 '17 at 16:36

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