How to Re-Download OS X Mountain Lion Installer from OS X Mavericks

Feb 24, 2014 - 8 Comments

Downloading older version of OS X from the Mac App Store

Though it is generally recommended for users to keep their Macs up to date with the latest system software, not everyone wants to run OS X Mavericks on all of their Macs, and in some situations older Macs may not support the latest version of OS X anyway. Additionally, there are circumstances where users looking to update from Snow Leopard or OS X Lion may want to go to OS X Mountain Lion instead of Mavericks for compatibility reasons, or to avoid some of the potential issues discussed here by readers with Mail app and iCloud syncing that have frustrated some using current versions of 10.9.1 (those are since resolved with 10.9.2, update to avoid those issues). With OS X Mountain Lion officially off the App Store though, you can’t just search for it and choose to re-download, but that doesn’t necessarily mean users can’t retrieve the installer again.

Important Note: This is really a trick aimed at advanced users who know why they want an older version of OS X. Using the downloaded installer will not work to revert from a Mac with Mavericks to Mountain Lion. Users who wish to downgrade from OS X Mavericks to Mountain Lion should follow these instructions instead, but be aware that it requires a backup from the prior OS X version. If you’re experiencing unusual problems with Mavericks, you may want to try a clean install. Finally, do not attempt to install OS X Mountain Lion on a newer Mac that shipped with OS X Mavericks pre-installed, the installation of 10.8 will fail because it does not support the newest hardware while 10.9 does.

To be able to get the older version of OS X from the Mac App Store again, you must have obtained OS X Mountain Lion from the App Store at some point in time, thus tying it to your Apple ID and Mac App Store account. This works even if it was originally on another Mac than what is currently in use. If you did not buy, download, or install Mountain Lion from the App Store with an Apple ID, this will not work.

  1. Open the App Store application as usual, from /Applications/
  2. Go to the “Purchases” tab
  3. Scroll through the list until you find “OS X Mountain Lion” – do not use the Search box because it will try and fail by looking within the wider Mac App Store
  4. Click on the grey “DOWNLOAD” button
  5. You will find a message saying “Would you like to continue? OS X 10.9 is already installed on this computer. Are you sure you want to download OS X 10.8?” – click ‘Continue’
  6. Confirm download of older version of OS X

  7. Wait for the full download to complete (it’s about 5GB) and find the “Install OS X Mountain Lion” application in the /Applications/ directory

older version of Mountain Lion downloading in OS X Mavericks

Now that you have the installer handy,you can create a boot installer for Mountain Lion if you want to perform a clean installation of 10.8 on another compatible Mac.

As mentioned before, we generally recommend keeping up to date with the latest version of OS X supported by a Mac, which for most machines is OS X Mavericks. You can build a USB installer for Mavericks

Technically, you can also re-download the OS X Lion installer this way too, though it would be hard to imagine a scenario where a user would want Lion over OS X Mountain Lion, let alone OS X Mavericks.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Troubleshooting

8 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Hammer says:

    Easy to imaging wanting Lion: it is the most modern OS I can run.

  2. jordan says:

    Apple should make this easier, but remember you can also BUY Mountain Lion, still, right now, from the Apple Store

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/D6377Z/A/os-x-mountain-lion

    But $20? No thanks, Mavericks is free.

  3. Nans says:

    What about iPhoto? I did a fresh install to mountain lion, but can’t revert to the old version of iPhoto. Any solutions?

    • Roman Doan says:

      Second sentence, second paragraph: “Using the downloaded installer will not work to revert from a Mac with Mavericks to Mountain Lion.”

    • Avenged110 says:

      I’ve done this before after updating and reverting numerous times just to mess with things.

      1) Backup your iPhoto Library package in your Photos folder inside of your home folder.
      2) Since you’re running Mountain Lion, you can delete the Mavericks version of iPhoto (which I’m assuming is what is currently installed).
      3) Download the last Mountain Lion compatible version from the App Store (just find iPhoto and it will allow you to download the last compatible version).
      4) When opening the newly downloaded iPhoto, hold option + Cmd + click. Continue holding those two buttons until a popup appears called ‘iPhoto First Aid.”
      5) Choose “Rebuild Database” and let it finish. You should now have a fully reverted and Mountain Lion friendly iPhoto and library.

  4. Avenged110 says:

    I’ve actually had to do this since I updated to Mavericks like Apple told me to but it caused so many issues my iMac literally became unusable. Luckily I had a bootable partition on an external drive to easily reinstall from. There’s something in my stuff that conflicts with the 10.9 install and thus is also in my backup files, but it’s not worth the trouble because I don’t really care. I’m fine staying on 10.8 and actually kind of prefer it. They’ll never take my linen!

    Also worth noting, it is technically possible to install a previous version of OS X than what shipped with your Mac. Apple has a kb article about it explaining the issues you will probably experience. It’s obviously very unlikely that it will even boot, but it can always be worth a try if you really want to.

  5. Fil says:

    Hi,

    Doesn’t work for me. I keep getting Error 1004 when trying to download ML again (I’m on Mavericks now) because ML is not available in the Belgian App Store. Your tutorial suggest that ML is still available in the US Store. Can you confirm?

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates