I need to install a secondary OSX, older one, like yosemite or something, on a computer, which has High sierra installed. The problem is it has the crazy APFS file system, which doesn't seem to allow normal partitions (at least the Disk utility doesn't seem to do that) and it also says that it cannot run Yosemite installer, because it's too old for this computer... Any ideas?

I'm also trying to download the OSX High sierra installer and the damn App Store is saying "downloading", but that's it, no clue how far it is or if it is actually downloading...

  • You really want to just ask one single question to get an answer on this site. It sounds to me like you aren't going to be able to dual boot this because Macs can't run OSes older than what they were shipped with. You might be able to run it in Virtual Box...
    – dwightk
    Apr 30 '18 at 11:49
  • Please add the specific model of Mac. Apple designs their computers to disallow installing older versions of macOS on newer machines. That’s why you might not be able to install Yosemite at all.
    – IconDaemon
    Apr 30 '18 at 11:54
  • 1
    @IconDaemon "Disallow" is a strong word to use here. Apple doesn't update old MacOS versions with drivers for newer hardware. They would have to do a lot of work to allow you to use old MacOS versions on new hardware; the default state if they don't do anything is that you can't.
    – Mike Scott
    Apr 30 '18 at 11:56
  • @Mike Scott - I use this particular word, in this particular context, quite a lot. Perhaps you can ask for clarification on the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange site.
    – IconDaemon
    Apr 30 '18 at 12:32
  • @IconDaemon Just because you use the word frequently doesn't make it correct usage. You're implying that Apple are taking active measures to prevent the use of old MacOS versions on old hardware, which they're not, except perhaps for saving your time by stopping you from running an install that will fail.
    – Mike Scott
    Apr 30 '18 at 13:01

Note: The OP has reported that this procedure initially failed to work on a 2015 MacBook Pro. However, if you read the comments, the OP eventually successed. The procedure does work on my 2013 iMac.

I am not sure I understand exactly how VirtualBox works, but I have always assumed the hardware was virtual. Therefore, if a particular operating system would run on one machine, then it should run on any machine where VirtualBox is installed. I suppose there are certain obvious limitations due to machine hardware, such as:

  • The amount of physical memory.
  • The physical number of cores.
  • The speed of the USB ports.
  • Whether the processor is 32 bit or 64 bit.
  • The amount of drive space available.
  • The speed of processor, memory and logic (mother) board).

The reason I bring up this issue is that I have a 2013 iMac that can run Yosemite, but I would prefer to run High Sierra. Unfortunately, I also have software (such as Adobe CS5) that does not work well with High Sierra. I have found it to be relatively trivial to install Yosemite as a guest in VirtualBox. The instructions are based on website OS X on OS X. These instructions also state that newer Macs have to fake the processor in order to run Yosemite. Since I do not have a newer Mac, I can not test to see if this is true. So, you will have to try the instructions for yourself.

Before anyone complains, according to the SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X YOSEMITE this is legal to do.

To be complete, I have repeated the instructions below. Just so you know, the file Yosemite.dmg, that is created below, should be inserted into the virtual optical drive.

  • Requirement

    1. Install OS X.app purchased in Mac App Store
    2. iESD

  • VirtualBox Settings

    ‑ Operating System Version: Mac OS X (64 bit)

    ‑ Base Memory: 2048 MB (larger is better)

    Enable EFI

    In the lastest VirtualBox, all the default settings work well.

    Some people encountered black screen upon booting the virtual machine. They reported that changing the default chipset ICH9 to PIIX3 fixes this issue.

  • Prepare Install Disk

    gem install iesd

    iESD requires ruby-1.9.2 or later.

  • Yosemite & Mavericks

    The new InstallESD.dmg is not bootable. Therefore, we need to create a bootable install disk with BaseSystem.dmg.

    iesd -i /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app -o Yosemite.dmg -t BaseSystem

    All Macs using Intel Haswell CPU (Macs after 2013) need to fake their CPU as Ivy Bridge in order to boot the virtual machine. Thank @danmccombs for this tip.

    VBoxManage modifyvm <vmname> --cpuidset 00000001 000306a9 00020800 80000201 178bfbff

    On Mac Pro Early 2009 and other Macs that have ECC memory, AppleTyMCEDriver.kext will cause a kernel panic during the boot. Thus we need to remove it.

    iesd -i /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app -o Yosemite.dmg -t BaseSystem --uninstall-extension AppleTyMCEDriver.kext


Finally, I have included instructions for setting the screen resolution. You can only change the resolution while the virtual machine is powered off. To set the horizontal and vertical (HxV) resolution for virtual machine named VM name, enter the commands given below.

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "CustomVideoMode1" "HxVx32"
VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" VBoxInternal2/EfiGraphicsResolution HxV

For example, to set the horizontal and vertical resolution to 1824x1026 for the virtual machine named Yosemite hosted by an iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013), you would need to enter the commands given below.

VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" "CustomVideoMode1" "1824x1026x32"
VBoxManage setextradata "Yosemite" VBoxInternal2/EfiGraphicsResolution 1824x1026

Note: The main display of an iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013) has a maximum resolution of 1920x1080.

  • If you're not sure how VirtualBox works, you should review Chapter 10.3 of the User Manual: 10.3 Hardware vs. software virtualization
    – Allan
    Apr 30 '18 at 18:25
  • Thanks. I already made the installer ISO from yosemite, it was far harder than what you wrote, so I may try that too. Anyways VirtualBox didn't really work - the installer image didn't even run it. I tried the drive I used to make that image in the mbpro itself and there it works... so I guess some kind of technical issue. May 1 '18 at 16:15
  • You are correct. Any installation file that you can create to install Yosemite on your MacBook Pro will not work with VirtualBox. The Yosemite.dmg file, you can create using my instructions, will work with VirtualBox, but not with your MacBook Pro. So, if you follow the instructions given in my answer, you should be able to run Yosemite in VirtualBox. If you have any problems following my instructions, let me know. May 2 '18 at 2:45
  • Thanks for the info. I tried, unfortunately the kernel quickly panics... I have MBPro 2015 here, no ECC. Other that I did all the steps you wrote, but no luck... May 3 '18 at 14:57
  • @Vojtěch Melda Meluzín: Did you try omitting the VBoxManage modifyvm <vmname> --cpuidset 00000001 000306a9 00020800 80000201 178bfbff command? Also, can you specify if your mac is a early or late 2105 model, the screen size and the processor? May 3 '18 at 19:30

Best way to really have a dual boot on Apple computers is to partition your Harddisk and install the other OSX via pendrive, or, alternatively, install the second OS on an external Harddisk or bigger pendrive.

  1. Get an install medium for your older OSX. you probably have to search the internet for a bootable version of e.g. El Capitan, Apple removes older installs regularly from their servers to enforce you to update to the newest available OS.

    Note: Apple does provide the website: How to download OS X El Capitan. As only official fallback for older OS

  2. Make a bootable device (e.g. pendrive) from that OS... there are plenty of guides in the internet, and on stackexchange. there's also an app: diskmakerx.com

  3. Reboot your computer and hold the alt / option key, to boot from that pendrive or external harddisk and install the older osx on the device of your choice.

  4. Again, to choose from which drive to boot, just have that devce connected when booting, press alt and select your OS of choice.


  • Thanks. That's pretty much what I tried. I survived the horribly painful process of getting ISO from the installer (not sure if everything is correct, but hopefully). But OSX High sierra transformed the drive into APFS and Disk utility crashes if I try to partition the drive, so I'm stuck... May 1 '18 at 16:13
  • try to use diskmakerx.com, if that other approach doesn't work... the file format of the bootable drive in fact doesn't matter, and during the installation the drive (you install the second OSX) will be formatted to the fileformat this OS needs... So just don't worry about the file format of the drive. el capitan will reformat it to the one it needs. And concerning partitioning or not, you can also install the OS on an external Harddrive. Or try to partition in recovery mode (that's probably needed if you just have one big partition and that is probably the reason why disk utility crashes) May 2 '18 at 13:20

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