Downgrade to OS X El Capitan from macOS Sierra

For some users, macOS Sierra presents a lots of bugs and issues; some apps and hardware pieces are incompatible with it. In any case, you don’t want to experience Sierra if for whatever reason, it is possible to roll back from Sierra to El Capitan. In case, you are finding ways to recover data from failed Mac OS Sierra update, just visit the link to know more.


Before we explain how to do roll back from Sierra to El Capitan, let’s find out what you can’t do:

  • Mac always wants to have the latest version of Mac OS, so you can’t run Mac OS X El Capitan installer within macOS Sierra.
  • You can’t boot your Mac operating system into Recovery mode and roll back to Mac OS X El Capitan because it can only re-install the current OS i.e. in this case is macOS Sierra.

What you can do is entirely erase macOS Sierra, re-install Mac OS X El Capitan and restore your data from a Time Machine backup that you made before you downloaded the Sierra. But, if you want to continue with macOS Sierra, here are the steps to follow when Mac won't start after Sierra update.

Tutorial for how to downgrade from Mac OS Sierra to El Capitan

1. Erase macOS Sierra

You need to connect your Mac to a strong internet connection either via Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. Ensure the connection is stable and follow the below mentioned steps:

  • Click on Apple icon and select Restart from the dropdown menu.
  • Hold down Command+R while the Mac restarts.
  • Under the OS X Utilities section, click on Disk Utility, then click Continue option.
  • Choose your Startup Disk and click Erase tab.
  • Enter the names of the files that you want to erase like MacOS Sierra.
  • From the list, select Mac OS Extended and click Erase.

2. Reinstall Mac OS X El Capitan

After you have deleted macOS Sierra, quit Disk utility and start reinstalling Mac OS X El Capitan by following the explained instructions here:

  • Go to OS X Utilities and click on Reinstall OS X.
  • Next click Continue on the Mac OS X El Capitan installer.

Now, just go ahead with the above process, agree to the terms & conditions and simply reinstall it. After the process is completed successfully, your Mac machine will restart.


3. Restore data from Time Machine

After you have downgraded to OS X El Capitan from macOS Sierra, you can easily backup your data through Time Machine. If you saved your data in Time Machine, you can use it in the present Mac OS X El Capitan by following these simple steps:

  • Restart your Mac and hold down Command+R key till the boot.
  • In the OS X Utilities menu, click Restore option.
  • Click on Continue tab when Restore Your System message appears.
  • Choose your Time Machine Backup and select the most recent backup, then click Continue.

Please wait until the process is completed. Make sure you be patient, it will take some good time depending on the network speed and the amount of data that is to be transferred.