Video: How to downgrade from macOS High Sierra to Sierra

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2018
MacOS High Sierra is Apple's newest operating system for Mac, but some users might have issues with applications or home server setups not working correctly. AppleInsider shows you how to downgrade, if you must.





Assuming you've got a mac older than the iMac Pro that works with macOS 10.12 Sierra, there is a way to revert to the older system.

If you're one of those users having trouble and have decided to go back, the first step is to download the Sierra installer. Apple has a convenient support page, with links on how to download the installer from the Mac App Store.




Once the download is complete, you'll see an error saying that the application is too old to run on your machine. But, we can circumvent this by making an external install drive. First, make a backup of all your data, because the rest of this procedure will erase your system drive. Also, if you're on a MacBook or MacBook Pro, now would be a good time to connect to power.




Insert a USB flash drive. When the USB drive shows up in finder, rename it Sierra. Open the Terminal.

In the terminal window, enter: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Sierra and hit enter.




A little lock icon will show up for user password validation -- just type in your password to authenticate and hit enter.

You will be asked for permission to erase all the data on the drive. Type the letter y, and hit enter. Terminal should now start copying the boot files to the USB drive.

Once the process is complete, you can close the terminal, and eject the USB drive.

Once your data is backed up, click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen, and select Restart. Hold down Command+R, and keep holding the keys until your computer restarts and a loading bar shows up. After it's finished, click Disk Utility, then continue.

You are about to erase your system drive -- make sure you have your backup!

Select your startup disk, which is usually named Macintosh HD. Just formatting the drive won't do, as it will allow only APFS for SSD-based machines.

Instead, hit Cancel and click Partition. Change the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and then click Apply.




Click Partition on the next popup, which will erase all the data on the drive, and warn you accordingly.

When the process is complete, you drive is reformatted to allow a MacOS Sierra installation. Click the Apple icon once again, and Restart the system.

This time, hold the Option button until it restarts to the system selector screen. Plug in your USB installation drive.Once it shows up, click Install MacOS Sierra.




After it loads, click Install MacOS, and continue. Once you've read and agreed to Apple's terms and conditions, click on your main drive. Which we assume is still called Macintosh HD, then click Install.

Continue through all the pop-ups to begin the installation.Once the installation is complete, choose your language, and hit Continue to complete the rest of the installation process.

When complete, open the Mac App Store, and update to the latest macOS Sierra software -- just make sure not to accidentally reinstall macOS High Sierra. This won't turn off notifications to upgrade to High Sierra, you'll still get those daily. Fortunately, they can be turned off permanently.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    deminsddeminsd Posts: 126member
    So now you've got a fresh install of Sierra.  What about your apps and data that were supposedly backed up?  Would it have been easier if one had a Time Machine backup of Sierra, to have done a restore from that instead? 

    This just seems like a last ditch effort to get back to Sierra with tons of work involved putting the pieces back together.
    kerpow
  • Reply 2 of 29
    deminsd said:
    So now you've got a fresh install of Sierra.  What about your apps and data that were supposedly backed up?  Would it have been easier if one had a Time Machine backup of Sierra, to have done a restore from that instead? 

    This just seems like a last ditch effort to get back to Sierra with tons of work involved putting the pieces back together.
    Yes you can do the time machine backup from Sierra instead of installing a fresh copy of Sierra. 
  • Reply 3 of 29
    deminsd said:
    So now you've got a fresh install of Sierra.  What about your apps and data that were supposedly backed up?  Would it have been easier if one had a Time Machine backup of Sierra, to have done a restore from that instead? 

    This just seems like a last ditch effort to get back to Sierra with tons of work involved putting the pieces back together.
    I may be wrong, but after the clean Sierra install I think you can use Migration Assistant to move just your Applications and User folders from your backup drive back to the system hard drive. Yes, a Time Machine restore might be less of a hassle, but there may be certain circumstances when a clean OS install is necessary, regardless of whether you are downgrading or not.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    so you know it has to be a bad OS update when Apple insider post a way to downgrade. 

    Apple this is bad. 
    dysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,413administrator
    sziehr said:
    so you know it has to be a bad OS update when Apple insider post a way to downgrade. 

    Apple this is bad. 
    It isn't bad. Anybody who says that High Sierra is the worst ever either hasn't been using computers long, or has a very short memory.

    We've been asked for this, so we delivered.

    There are legitimate reasons to downgrade. Critical peripherals not working after a driver hasn't been updated, expensive vertical market software breaking, that kind of thing. Everybody else should upgrade, if they can.
    edited January 2018 chiaroundaboutnowjSnivelyindyfxfastasleepdysamoria
  • Reply 6 of 29
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 234member
    This seems like too much work for now; however, High Sierra is definitely buggy. Since updating, about 2 to 4 times per week, my computer doesn't wake from sleep.

    My two cents is to stay on plain old Sierra unless you have a pressing need to upgrade.

  • Reply 7 of 29
    It isn't bad. Anybody who says that High Sierra is the worst ever either hasn't been using computers long, or has a very short memory.

    We've been asked for this, so we delivered.

    There are legitimate reasons to downgrade. Critical peripherals not working after a driver hasn't been updated, expensive vertical market software breaking, that kind of thing. Everybody else should upgrade, if they can.
    I agree. I've been using High Sierra on my (early 2011) MBP since the early developer betas and have had zero issues with it. At all. I've held off on installing it on my Mac Mini simply because Final Cut Express 3.5 (which is ancient) no longer functions under High Sierra. Installing it under Lion or above required Unix-level commands because the installer was PowerPC, but the application itself ran okay (LiveType and Boris Fonts had issues, however).

    I plan on moving to Final Cut X in the next couple of months, at which point I'll upgrade my Mini. Unless you have compatibility issues, I see no reason to hold off on upgrading. 
    chia
  • Reply 8 of 29
    Frankly, the silly names, with marginal variations, that Apple has for its long line of MacOS Xs is getting a little long-in-the-tooth. And a bit too cutesy.

    I prefer the numbering system, myself.
  • Reply 9 of 29
    I was just considering this, I knew I would be taking a chance with my IMAC with a fusion drive, its the one before the 5k ones came out, and sometimes it stalls with applications and i have to turn it off and on more.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,118member
    This is really an extreme step. What issues are people having that can't be solved in other ways? I've had zero issues with High Sierra (apart from the iMessages ordering bug, which was addressed in latest update, but hardly something critical) and for me its been the most stable version of MacOS ever.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    While there are legitimate reasons to downgrade,, and maybe even to stay with an earlier version (probably mostly because older hardware, or some older necessary programs can't handle a newer OS), High Sierra is surely around to stay, and the way forward will result in even further evolution - including APFS, which has been the biggest and most disrupting change. So in the long run we'll just have to get used to it, as will third-party program developers. This is reminiscent of the problems we had when Apple dropped the 68k architecture, and again when they moved from PowerPC to the Intel chips, with each of these changes requiring fundamental changes in the OS, and lots of problems with third-party apps. We survived all of that, the sun still came up every morning, and, in the end, we could acknowledge that it always led to progress, not just to PIA. I'm confident that that will be the case now, too.

    One thing has been going downhill, however, since the beginning of computers generally, including Apple's. Programming has become sloppier. Software used to be highly efficient and exact, and effort was made to make the slimmest, most efficient code possible. That has changed, and there are now all kinds of work-overs, work-arounds, and bits and pieces of left-over or redundant instructions, all of which has resulted in code which is more bloated than it needs to be. Given how much we ask of computers and programs and their integration which we never even dreamed of before, and how much more the hardware itself is capable of, this may a harder task than it used to be. But more effort on the part of today's programmers would still result in a neater, more efficient product.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    Enterprise deployments of Mac's have for the last several years been kept behind about 6 months or perhaps more due to serious compatibility problems.  Enterprise typically installs security endpoint software.  That software has kernel extensions.  Those break whenever radical changes to the OS are made.  The APFS isn't so much a problem unless you were using Institutional FileVault2 keys which no longer work in High Sierra.  Other versions of anti-virus or binary whitelisting tools cause a kernel panic on High Sierra.  An enterprise cannot move very fast and all the interdependencies are an issue.  Can't upgrade the anti-virus because the PCs use it too and the backend server console has to be upgraded.  Suddenly, that's 20,000 computers that need a client upgrade and multiple server upgrades just to support one OS out of several in a large environment.  

    The new 10.13.3 MDM functionality that now requires DEP to be fully trusted by High Sierra so you can silently install secure kernel extensions without user intervention means you have to change the entire Apple management infrastructure to accommodate that new requirement.  

    Windows is not immune to these things but Microsoft tends to let enterprise pull their strings and Apple doesn't  For example, Apple released Security Update 2018-001 and it's broken several things and we can't fix it until the vendors patch their software.  So it ends up being a Catch-22.  With Microsoft you can uninstall a security update.  You can't do that on macOS High Sierra.  You have to backup the Mac, the nuke and pave it and restore the data from backup.  That's a time consuming process.  Ever re-install Adobe Creative Cloud and all the Apps? Takes for freaking ever.  

    All that said, Apple does appear to be locking down macOS considerably.  SIP, MDM/DEP required, T2 ARM Co-processor Secure Boot in iMac Pro.  Eventually the security will be right up there with iOS devices so there will be little need for these security end points in the first place.  The MDM will evolve and improve and Profiles will become even more enhanced.  The problems will start to just go away.
    roundaboutnow
  • Reply 13 of 29
    sziehr said:
    so you know it has to be a bad OS update when Apple insider post a way to downgrade. 

    Apple this is bad. 
    It isn't bad. Anybody who says that High Sierra is the worst ever either hasn't been using computers long, or has a very short memory.

    We've been asked for this, so we delivered.

    There are legitimate reasons to downgrade. Critical peripherals not working after a driver hasn't been updated, expensive vertical market software breaking, that kind of thing. Everybody else should upgrade, if they can.
    That’s for this response. Very well articulated. 
  • Reply 14 of 29
    I’m sorry, but High Sierra seems like the most half baked OS in recent memory. I’m a professional video editor. (I don’t use Final Cut X. I use Premiere, AFX, Resolve and AVID) I’ve not found one pro that can fully endorse this thing for prime time - in a working collaborative environment. Or my own machine. No one can assure me that my OWC PCIe SSD boot drive in my 2010 5,1 Mac Pro can install as RAID 0 and not break the thing in half rendering it useless. - If it’s not ready for those of us that rely on our Macs for a living, or at least inspire confidence - they’ve lost us. - Reminds me of the dark days when AVID dropped the Mac. 
  • Reply 15 of 29
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,686member
    Frankly, the silly names, with marginal variations, that Apple has for its long line of MacOS Xs is getting a little long-in-the-tooth. And a bit too cutesy.

    I prefer the numbering system, myself.
    They use a numbering system, as well as the cutesy names, for what 17 years now? What difference does it make what it's called?
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,413administrator
    Nemicide said:
    I’m sorry, but High Sierra seems like the most half baked OS in recent memory. I’m a professional video editor. (I don’t use Final Cut X. I use Premiere, AFX, Resolve and AVID) I’ve not found one pro that can fully endorse this thing for prime time - in a working collaborative environment. Or my own machine. No one can assure me that my OWC PCIe SSD boot drive in my 2010 5,1 Mac Pro can install as RAID 0 and not break the thing in half rendering it useless. - If it’s not ready for those of us that rely on our Macs for a living, or at least inspire confidence - they’ve lost us. - Reminds me of the dark days when AVID dropped the Mac. 
    I understand what you're saying, but Apple is in no way responsible for guaranteeing the compatibility of the OWC PCIe SSD. Like I said, I get it, but don't confuse your situation with the Mac using public as a whole. The majority of Washington DC-area pros, including Premiere, Resolve, and AVID users are fine with High Sierra -- but that's not a more valid as a point of data as yours.

    The point is, it may not be ready for you -- but that doesn't make it universally not ready for everybody, or even a majority of users. And, because it works for them, doesn't mean it works for you.

    This all said, my personal 5,1 with a PCI-E riser for a SATA SSD is fine. At least one of OWC's dual-MacBook Pro SSD module drives, one model of Accelsior is fine. I can't speak to your specific situation.
    edited January 2018
  • Reply 17 of 29
    Frankly, the silly names, with marginal variations, that Apple has for its long line of MacOS Xs is getting a little long-in-the-tooth. And a bit too cutesy.

    I prefer the numbering system, myself.
    They use a numbering system, as well as the cutesy names, for what 17 years now? What difference does it make what it's called?
    Um.. it’s annoying? After 17 iterations. (By far the largest number and for the longest time, IIRC, for any Apple software offering). 
  • Reply 18 of 29
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,049member
    sziehr said:
    so you know it has to be a bad OS update when Apple insider post a way to downgrade. 

    Apple this is bad. 
    It isn't bad. Anybody who says that High Sierra is the worst ever either hasn't been using computers long, or has a very short memory.

    We've been asked for this, so we delivered.

    There are legitimate reasons to downgrade. Critical peripherals not working after a driver hasn't been updated, expensive vertical market software breaking, that kind of thing. Everybody else should upgrade, if they can.
    Thanks for spreading this info wider, but: Yes, High Sierra has been bad.

    I've watched on forums and at 3rd-party developer websites as audio production has been affected. High Sierra (especially APFS) wasn't tested and refined enough before release, especially not for it to be put into productivity centers. While you can certainly criticize people for upgrading too soon when they're in mission-critical circumstances, it's well known that Apple is very passive-aggressive about getting people to upgrade (Logic 10.4 just dropped El Capitan and Logic Remote is only purchasable on iOS 11, both pushes being far too premature).

    For end-consumers, High Sierra is probably fine. For studios and other workplaces that rely on the stability of their platform, High Sierra has been a serious issue. If you're going to ignore the serious issues in an entire segment of the customer base because they aren't end-consumers, you're cherry-picking the results of High Sierra on the market.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,413administrator
    dysamoria said:
    sziehr said:
    so you know it has to be a bad OS update when Apple insider post a way to downgrade. 

    Apple this is bad. 
    It isn't bad. Anybody who says that High Sierra is the worst ever either hasn't been using computers long, or has a very short memory.

    We've been asked for this, so we delivered.

    There are legitimate reasons to downgrade. Critical peripherals not working after a driver hasn't been updated, expensive vertical market software breaking, that kind of thing. Everybody else should upgrade, if they can.
    Thanks for spreading this info wider, but: Yes, High Sierra has been bad.

    I've watched on forums and at 3rd-party developer websites as audio production has been affected. High Sierra (especially APFS) wasn't tested and refined enough before release, especially not for it to be put into productivity centers. While you can certainly criticize people for upgrading too soon when they're in mission-critical circumstances, it's well known that Apple is very passive-aggressive about getting people to upgrade (Logic 10.4 just dropped El Capitan and Logic Remote is only purchasable on iOS 11, both pushes being far too premature).

    For end-consumers, High Sierra is probably fine. For studios and other workplaces that rely on the stability of their platform, High Sierra has been a serious issue. If you're going to ignore the serious issues in an entire segment of the customer base because they aren't end-consumers, you're cherry-picking the results of High Sierra on the market.
    There are forum threads on this in every other OS update, inlcuding point updates, going back to the forum reset several years ago, and older ones than that scattered across the internet. The biggest issues have historically been drivers for peripherals and software compatibility issues.

    StuntCopter, by Duane Blehm. I may have the name wrong. It was released very early on, and I first used it on System 3, I want to say, when I was a very young man. It worked up to and including OS 9.2.1. Why? Because Blehm followed the developer's guidelines to the letter. No tricks, no shortcuts. To the letter.

    Who's responsible for software compatibility? I'll give some of that to Apple, but certainly not a majority stake.

    I've been doing this job forward-facing for a while. I've been doing this job for a more select clientele for over 20 years. There have been worse systems, some that had national security implications because of incompatibilities. So it has been, so it always shall be.

    Following your own logic, if you just count studios and other workplaces that rely on the stability of their platform that are having problems, then you're also cherry-picking the results of High Sierra on the market.

    Does High Sierra cause problems? Sure, like every other operating system upgrade always has. Is it demonstrably worse overall than any other? Nope -- I'd say middle of the pack. 

    To that point, I have always said, that if you have a mission-critical need, let other people get the flaming data for you.
    edited January 2018 fastasleep
  • Reply 20 of 29
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,163member
    I've so far only hit one brick wall with High Sierra, so I have a slimmed down Sierra running in VMWare for the sole purpose of using our Fujitsu SnapScan which Fujitsu seem to have abandoned rather than update the drivers.  I can see it coming in useful in the future for those few 32 bit apps I still use too as High Sierra transitions to 64 bit only.
    edited January 2018
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