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I am on an old MacBook (mid-2009) that is not supporting Sierra. When I go to the App store to install Xcode 8 (only option available) it says that it is for 10.12 (Sierra) only. That means that if someone has El Capitan only and didn't install Xcode 7 before, cannot start developing apps for macOS / iOS? That seems absurd to me, El Capitan is still a modern OS... I might understand if you are on Leopard, but El Capitan is from 2015!

Is there any way to (legally) bypass this problem?

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    if you specifically need a 7.x versions, you could download it from your developer account at apple , specifically at https://developer.apple.com/download/more/ , where you can scroll the list of available distributions. Once you have the dmg, you can proceed with the installation normally. – YvesLeBorg Aug 2 '17 at 14:51
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The last Xcode version compatible with El Capitan is Xcode 8.2.1. If you can't install it from within Apple App Store, visit Apple Developer and download the app there. An Apple ID is required.

Xcode is provided as xip file (signed zip). You can simply unzip it by using Archives.app (i.e. with a double-click).

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