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I've got a 2018 MacBook Pro (Model ID : MacBook 15,1) that shipped with macOS Mojave 10.14, that I need to downgrade to run macOS High Sierra 10.13.

I've tried reformatting the main drive using Disk Utility and then re-installing the OS from recovery mode, which from past experience loads the lowest OS the machine shipped with (for the 2018 MBP that is 10.13.6). But for some reason when I do this it keeps loading macOS Mojave 10.14.

So I've gone for another solution: I've created a USB installer of macOS High Sierra 10.13, wiped the MacBook Pro drive again, gone to the Startup Security Utility, and set medium security and allowed boot from external drive. I then restart the computer holding the Option key and booted using the USB installer.

After a loading screen, I keep getting a Install macOS Mojave menu. Any ideas why this would be, and why it's not letting me install macOS High Sierra 10.13?

Although the 2018 MacBook Pro originally shipped with macOS High Sierra 10.13, could it be that I have a later model of 2018 MacBook Pro, that only has drivers for macOS Mojave 10.14 and later? Or do all 2018 MacBook Pros work with the same drivers?

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    Have you have downloaded the macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 installer (the one currently available on the Mac App Store), before creating the USB installer. Make sure you are not using an older release of macOS High Sierra. – Nimesh Neema Apr 21 at 9:33
  • @NimeshNeema i downloaded High Sierra from the mac app store, (from a machine which is already running 10.13) and noticed that the install file was only c. 20mb. For comparison the Mojave installer is c. 6gb. When i tried to create a USB installer using the guide as set out on Apple's website, i got the following error in terminal : /Applications/Install macOS High Sierra.app does not appear to be a valid OS installer application. - presume this is related to the installer being "wrong" which is also indicated by its file size.. any ideas ? – sam Apr 21 at 18:31
  • @n1000 question updated to state model ID. – sam Apr 21 at 18:33
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    Please see my updated answer. – n1000 Apr 29 at 11:07
  • I would be interested to learn if you finally could solve your issue... – n1000 May 2 at 7:03
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Original answer

As described in this support article, there are different ways to load macOS Recovery:

  • cmd+R: Install the latest macOS that was installed on your Mac.
  • alt+cmd+R: Upgrade to the latest macOS compatible with your Mac.
  • shift+alt+cmd+R: Install the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available.

I suggest you try the last option and see if it lets you install macOS 10.13.


Update as per OP comments

Apparently the key combinations from my previous answer did not work for you and you receive the message "/Applications/Install macOS High Sierra.app does not appear to be a valid OS installer application.", when creating the USB installer.

It seems you face exactly the issue discussed here. The AppStore downloaded only a down-sized version of the installer image. Try the solutions offered in the answers over there. Basically you have to first download the full image / SharedSupport folder before you can create your USB boot installer.

  • just tried shift + alt + cmd + R - But still defaulted to install Mojave – sam Apr 21 at 18:45
  • Why are you downgrading your system? Maybe better approach is to use Mojave. Or fix what is causing you to downgrade. – jmh Apr 21 at 19:22
  • @jmh a piece of software I need to run is not compatible with Mojave, high Sierra is the latest OS I can run – sam Apr 21 at 19:37
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What you have posted in your comments to your question, the download of High Sierra from the App Store is only c. 20mb. I have High Sierra on a iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) and Get Info on my High Sierra download shows a size of 22,697,095 bytes (15.1 MB on disk). However, when downloading High Sierra from a iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013) running Mojave results in Get Info returning a size of 5,233,714,192 bytes (5.24 GB). So did you even try the answer I posted in your original question?

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Macs can usually only go back to the version each one shipped with. So even if the model can go back to 10.13 if it was bought earlier, if yours had 10.14 factory installed, it will refuse to go back to 10.13.

However, there are ways around that.

Besides making sure that you create install media with the complete install (5-6 GB, not 20MB, as mentioned by David Anderson), you can also, if that fails, copy a whole image of a 10.13 system to your hd. Easiest if you have the working 10.13 disk attached externally and boot from it - this will also show you whether the 10.13 system will boot on your Mac at all. If it works, you may have to boot into recovery if disk utility can't copy the image directly to the internal disk.

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It is possible but not all the time. Here's why:

  1. Latest macOS might have features that won't run on the older Macs(hardware wise. eg: fingerprint reader on new MacBook but older macOS won't have support for that)
  2. Drivers might be outdated
  3. The bootloader and other parts of the hardware might outright restrict this due to security issues.

Is it possible to install an old version of Mac OS on a new Mac? will answer a lot of your questions.

Again, it's not impossible but you need to consider the above points.

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