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I have found several guides on how to put the installer on external media using this command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled/ --nointeraction

However, when I run that command I get the error:

To use this tool, you must download the macOS installer application on a Mac with 10.12.5 or later, or El Capitan 10.11.6. For more information, please see the following: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201372.

I'm running 10.11.6, but when I follow that support article I get led in a circle - back to the App Store, which downloaded an 11 MB installer which led to the above error in the first place.

The only other thing I find is some third party web site that I am supposed to trust, to install their own tool to do the download. I am not going to install and trust such third party software. All I need to do is download the full version of the installer. Surely Apple must provide this somehow, since their own command is referring me to their own documentation (which strangely doesn't tell me how to download the whole installer in a way that works!)

How do I get the full installer?

Note: This may seem like a duplicate of this question which is marked as a duplicate of this question. But all of the answers for those question either don't work (lead me in a circle back to the App Store which downloads a tiny installer even after I delete it and try again) or refer me to a third piece of software that I'm not going to trust.

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    How about you install macOS via Internet recovery? To manually start up from macOS Recovery over the Internet, press and hold Option-Command-R or Shift-Option-Command-R at startup. No third party software required. – Nimesh Neema Apr 29 at 19:38
  • @NimeshNeema Yup that looks like it will work. Post as an answer and I'll upvote/accept so you can get credit for it. – Michael Apr 29 at 19:55
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To perform a clean install, try using Internet recovery.

Newer Mac computers and some older Mac computers automatically try to start up from macOS Recovery over the Internet when unable to start up from the built-in recovery system. When that happens, you see a spinning globe instead of an Apple logo during startup. To manually start up from macOS Recovery over the Internet, press and hold Option-Command-R or Shift-Option-Command-R at startup. Learn more about these key combinations.

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