One of my friends who don't have a fast Internet connection asked me if I could install El Capitan (which is the highest version of OS X that his iMac supports) and I said sure.

Today I went to App Store to install El Capitan, just for it to download so that I can make a bootable USB for him, and couldn't find it in App Store.

Then after a bit of searching I've found this link and it opened in App Store:

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However, when I click the get button, it redirects me to Software Update in my System Preferences and says that it's not available:

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Previously, clicking Get button just downloaded an installer into my Applications folder where I could easily create a bootable USB.

How can I make bootable El Capitan installer USB in Mojave?

  • Just wondering here if he could get the installer on a thumb drive if he went to an Apple Store? I recall hearing they could do this but unsure if can still be done. – Steve Chambers Jan 8 '19 at 17:21

This would be painful.

  1. Download High Sierra. See How can I download an older version of OS X/macOS?
  2. Copy High Sierra to a flash drive. See How to create a bootable installer for macOS
  3. Install High Sierra to a new volume in your APFS container. Here I assume you have enough free space.
  4. Goto the App Store while logged into High Sierra. Download El Capitan. Here I assume you have previously downloaded El Capitan.
  5. Copy El Capitan to a flash drive. See How to create a bootable installer for macOS
  6. Remove the High Sierra volume from your APFS container. See Remove macOS from a APFS container?

Another alternative would be to install High Sierra in a virtual machine. This would avoid the need to remove the High Sierra files from your APFS container volumes. Installing in the virtual machine application does require modifying your current macOS (Mojave). While removing the High Sierra virtual machine would be fairly easy, removing the virtual machine application would probably not be a good idea. So, once you install a virtual machine application, you will probably not want to uninstall.

Personally, I have only run Snow Leopard and Yosemite in VirtualBox virtual machines. Other virtual machine applications are VMware Fusion and Parallels. User @user3439894 has posted in a comment a preference for VMware Fusion which was used to run High Sierra.

If you choose to use a virtual machine and are having problems setting up, you may want to post a new question.

  • FWIW I would not mess around with the partitioning of my internal drive to accomplish a task such as this! Instead, I'd use either a virtual machine, preferred, or just use USB 3 flash drives, if available. Obviously going the VM route is faster and safer then messing around with the partitioning of the internal drive. – user3439894 Jan 8 '19 at 16:00
  • @user3439894: Add a volume to a APFS container does not involve partitioning. Perhaps you could post an answer explaining how to install High Sierra in a virtual machine. Also, would removing the virtual machine software more or less difficult that removing a APFS volume? – David Anderson Jan 8 '19 at 16:01
  • Personally I still use HFS+ volumes even with High Sierra which I'm currently using, so the point I'm trying to make is I would not modify my internal drive structure in any manner for this type of solution! This is a great use case for virtual machines! – user3439894 Jan 8 '19 at 16:07
  • @user3439894: Do you know if it is difficult to run High Sierra in a VirtualBox virtual machine? If you have successfully run High Sierra in some other virtual machine, could you name the product? – David Anderson Jan 8 '19 at 16:32
  • I use VMware Fusion for my virtual machines needs and have no problem installing any of the last half dozen major OS X/macOS releases with this product. Many years ago I tried all three. VMware, Parallels and VirtualBox and in spite of some of the known issues with any given release, VMware Fusion has been worth it for me over the other two. – user3439894 Jan 8 '19 at 16:45

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