3 Ways to Downgrade macOS Monterey to Big Sur, Catalina or Earlier

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Jerome Mills
Sep 30, 20215 min read

Summary: Looking for ways to downgrade macOS Monterey to Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, or High Sierra? Look no further. In this article, you will learn 3 ways to downgrade macOS to an earlier version.

It's tempting to update to a new macOS. But when you upgrade, you may regret it. Common reasons include incompatible software, too many bugs, and your Mac running slow. Installing a new version of macOS is easy, but downgrading is more complicated. In this article, We'll show you 3 ways to downgrade from macOS Monterey to Big Sur, Catalina, or older.

3 Ways to Downgrade macOS Monterey to Big Sur, Catalina or Earlier

Back up Your Mac

Important things first, be sure to back up your Mac. When you reinstall macOS, all data on your Mac will be wiped. If you backed up things that are important to you, you can quickly restore them after reinstalling macOS.

How to Downgrade to the macOS That Came with Your Mac

If you are running High Sierra or a later, you can quickly downgrade your macOS to the version shipped with your Mac. Note that this method is only available for Intel Macs.

Here're the steps:

  1. Make sure your Mac is well connected to the internet.
  2. Close and restart your Mac.
  3. Press and hold Shift- Option-Command-R until you see macOS Utilities.
  4. On the macOS Utilities screen, select the Reinstall macOS option.
  5. Click Continue and follow the instructions on the screen.
  6. Select your startup disk and click Install. 
  7. Your Mac will restart after the installation is complete.
Downgrade Monterey: Reinstall macOS That Came with Your Mac
Note
Don't forget to back up your Mac before performing the reinstallation steps.

How to Downgrade macOS Using Time Machine Backup

Also, you can downgrade macOS using a Time Machine backup, but only if you have a full backup of your Mac on your earlier macOS.

Here's what you need to do.

  1. Start your Mac and immediately hold down Command-R to start up from the built-in macOS Recovery system. (On Apple Silicon Macs, press the Power button.)
  2. Keep holding these two keys until you see the Apple logo or other loading image.
  3. In the macOS Utilities window, select Restore from a Time Machine backup and click the Continue button.
  4. Select your Time Machine backup and click on Continue.
  5. After the reinstallation process is complete, restore the files you backed up.
Downgrade Monterey: Revert macOS with Time Machine Backup

How to Downgrade macOS Using a Bootable Installer

What if you don't have a Time Machine backup but still want to revert to an earlier macOS? Do not worry. We'll show you how to install a downgraded macOS using a bootable installer. This method is more complicated than the two methods mentioned above. To help you understand better, we've divided the steps into 4 main parts. Let's get started.

Part 1. Prepare an External Drive

You need an external drive of at least 14GB. Although the macOS installer is about 12GB, you'll still need some extra space to store your data.

There might be other files in your drive. Let's format it.

  1. Plug your hard drive into Mac.

  2. Open the Disk Utility app via Spotlight.

  3. Select your drive in the sidebar and click the Erase button at the top of the window.

    Downgrade Monterey: Erase External Drive
  4. Name your drive as MyVolume or whatever you like and choose a format your Mac supports from the Format drop-down menu. 

    • If your Mac uses HFS+, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
    • If your Mac uses APFS, choose APFS.
    Note
    To check which format your Mac is using, open the Terminal app and type and run the command: diskutil info /.
  5. If the Scheme is available, select GUID Partition Map.

  6. Click the Erase button, then click Done.

Downgrade Monterey: Format External Drive

Part 2. Download macOS Installers

In most cases, macOS installers are kept in the Application folder.

Before downloading the macOS installer you want, check if your Mac is compatible with it.

Below are the download links for the different macOS versions. (Open them in Safari browser).

Part 3. Create Your Bootable Installer 

Now that you have prepared the external drive and macOS installer. Let's create your bootable installer.

  1. Connect your formatted hard drive to your Mac.

  2. Open the Terminal app.

  3. Run a command like below. (The command will vary depending on your version of macOS. Let's assume that the installer is located in your Applications folder and MyVolume is the name of your external drive. If your drive has a different name, replace "MyVolume" with the name of your external drive.)

    • Monterey: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Monterey.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
    • Big Sur: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
    • Catalina: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
    • Mojave: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
    • High Sierra: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume
  4. Enter your password and hit Return again.

  5. Follow the instructions in Terminal.

  6. When you see Done, quit Terminal and eject your hard drive.

Downgrade Monterey: How to Create a Bootable Installer

Part 4. Install macOS with Your Bootable Installer

Finally, you're ready to install your macOS.

  1. Plug your hard drive into Mac. (Make sure you have an internet connection.)

  2. Click Apple menu > Restart.

  3. If you're using an Intel-based Mac, hold down the Option/Alt key until you see the Startup Manager window. If you're using an Apple Silicon Mac, hold the Power button while rebooting Mac.

  4. Click on your external drive to select it as your startup disk. Your Mac will start up in Recovery Mode.

  5. From macOS Utilities, select Disk Utility.

    Downgrade Monterey: Disk Utility macOS Recovery Mode

  6. Erase everything on your Mac and quit Disk Utility.

  7. Select Reinstall macOS > Continue.

  8. Follow the instructions to install your macOS with the bootable drive you created.

Read Also: How to Reset MacBook Pro/Air Without Losing Data

Note
M1 Macs do not support macOS versions earlier than macOS Big Sur.

Bonus Tip: How to Speed Up a Slow macOS

Mac running slow after update? No need to rush to downgrade your macOS. It is recommended that you use BuhoCleaner to clean and optimize your Mac.

BuhoCleaner is one of the best Mac cleaning and optimization software. It has many useful features that allow you to free up gigabytes of space in just a few clicks.

  1. Download, install, and launch BuhoCleaner.
  2. Scan and remove unneeded files from your Mac.
Clean and Speed up Mac with BuhoCleaner

Conclusion

That's all for how to downgrade macOS Monterey to an earlier version. Do back up your Mac before downgrading your macOS. 

If you downgrade macOS because it is slow, you might as well use a cleaning tool like BuhoCleaner to clean up and speed it up. Click here for more Mac cleaning tips.

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