How to Downgrade from El Capitan to OS X Yosemite

If you’ve updated your Mac to OS X El Capitan but don’t quite like the new version and prefer to upgrade to OS X Yosemite, here’s how to do it.

OS X El Capitan was officially released today and many users are already using the new version of OS X.

There’s a new Split View multitasking feature that allows users to snap windows sideways and run two apps at the same time (similar to Windows’ Aero Snap feature). Sure, you could do this before, but you would have to manually resize the windows instead of automatically resizing them for you.

There are also new swipes you can use in a few apps like Mail and Safari, making it easier to manage email, and tabs to save for later in Safari.

OS X El Capitan also has better Spotlight Search results and improvements everywhere, and can now show you the weather, sports scores, and more information it couldn’t provide in the past.

However, new features aside, if you’re not a big fan of the update or are having trouble with the new version of OS X, you can actually upgrade to OS X Yosemite, and there are several ways to do it.

Downgrade to OS X Yosemite

Whichever method you choose for downgrade, it’s important to back up your Mac with Time Machine or another backup service, but the first method I’ll describe requires you to have a Time Machine backup.

This method only involves restoring a Time Machine backup to a point where you have OS X Yosemite and is perhaps the easiest to use method for downgrading to OS X Yosemite.

If you already have and are using Time Machine, you most likely have the necessary backup as it will automatically back up your Mac every day. However, before you get started, make sure you back up your Mac one last time before starting the downgrade process. To be extra safe, I recommend taking all your ultra-important files and transferring them to a USB drive separate from your Time Machine backup.

Now you will want to restart your Mac and hold down the button. This will enter Recovery Mode. You can also press and hold and choose from the menu that appears.

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In the menu, click it and then insert it if the hard drive you use for Time Machine is not installed. After that, click.


Finally you will see the screen, select the Time Machine drive you are using for backups and then click .


The next screen will allow you to choose a date and time you want to return to. Select the last date and time you remember running OS X Yosemite. You can easily see the OS X version on the right. Click .


On the next screen, you will select a target drive, usually titled, which will be your main disk drive on your Mac, from which you want to restore the backup. Click to start the downgrade process.


The process can take several hours, so sit back and relax while you do your work. The process can easily take all day or night if you have a lot of data to restore, so make sure you allow plenty of time for your Mac to be restored.

Once complete, your Mac will automatically reboot and you’ll now be running OS X Yosemite!

Alternative Method: Creating a USB Boot Drive

If you’re not using Time Machine to back up your Mac, you’ll need to use this alternative method, which is a bit more complicated but not too difficult. Also, it will completely wipe your Mac, so make sure all your important files are backed up to a USB drive.

You will need the OS X Yosemite installer, so open the Mac App Store and click the tab at the top. Scroll down to find OS X Yosemite and click next to it. This will download the OS X Yosemite installer. Note that Apple only allows you to do this for a short time before removing the installer from their servers, so in the end you won’t be able to use this method, but for now you can.


Next, you will need to create a bootable USB drive that will allow you to install OS X Yosemite over OS X El Capitan. This can be easily done using an app called DiskMaker X.

After downloading and installing the application, insert a USB flash drive, open DiskMaker X, and then click . It will do the rest for you and you will be left with a bootable USB drive in the end.


Keep the drive mounted and restart your Mac. Hold down the key while it reboots. This will bring up a menu where you will select a driver. Select the USB drive you just made.

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Once on the screen, go to the top menu bar and go to .


Select your main hard drive (usually ) from the left sidebar and then click tab. Make sure the field is selected. Then give the hard drive a name (preferably, but you can give it any name you want).

Click on the lower right corner to begin the deletion process. Once done, exit Disk Utility where you will be brought back to the screen. Click to install OS X Yosemite as you normally would.

This will give you a fresh copy of OS X Yosemite and you will now be downgraded from OS X El Capitan. If you want to update to El Capitan in the future, visit the Mac App Store and download the new operating system from there, or you can perform a clean install.

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