Want to upgrade to El Capitan instead of Sierra

Posted on 2016-10-02
Last Modified: 2016-10-13
Hi - My client is experiencing a little slowness on his mac. He has an early 2009 Mac with 8 GB of ram and running Yosemite.
I still struggle to work out what to do with macs when they run slow. With pcs its easier. I read that El Capitan helps performance wise compared to Yosemite and its successor Sierra. Though despite on the website for Apple i cannot find where to download El Capitan - Its not on the App Store as they claim it is or perhaps i am doing something wrong?
Some advice would be helpful thanks.

Question by:Dominic
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Expert Comment

ID: 41825456
Did you check via "Software Update" in the top bar at the Apple symbol?
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Accepted Solution

strung earned 250 total points
ID: 41825470
Actually, Macs are probably easier to deal with than PC's if you know what you are doing.

Updating the OS is unlikely to speed up the Mac unless you have dealt with the underlying cause of the slowness first. In fact, it may make matters worse as it may break out-of-date third party software.

The first thing to do is to make sure the your client has not inadvertently filled his hard drive. Macs need space om the hard drive for cache and scratch files and housekeeping. Right-click on the hard drive icon in finder and select GetInfo. It should tell you the amount of free space on the drive. You want to keep 10% free.

The most common cause of Macs running slow is a failing hard drive or a corrupted disk directory. The way to check this is to boot the Mac while holding down the Command-R key combination. This will boot into separate recovery partition which will allow you to diagnose the hard drive and repair directory corruption of the boot partition.

Once booted into the recovery partition, select the Utilities menu and go to Disk Utility. In the upper left of the DU window, you will see a line for the physical hard drive and below that a line for the boot partition (typically named "Macintosh HD".

Click first on the line for the physical drive. At the bottom right you will see a report from the S.M.A.R.T utility. If the result is anything other than "verified", the physical drive is failing and needs replacing.

Assuming the S.M.A.R.T. status is verified, click on Repair Disk. The will verify and try to repair the boot sectors etc. and will report as to its success.

Presuming that that went successfully, click on the portion volume below the physical hard drive (typically named "Macintosh HD" and run repair disk again.

If it finds problems and repairs them, you have likely found the cause of the slowness.

Assuming all this went well, reboot normally (without holding down the Command-R key combination), then download and run the freeware Malware Bytes for Mac:

Once you have done all that, if you are still experiencing slowness, post back here.
LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 41825475
By the way, you will have difficulty upgrading to El Capitan. When Apple ships a new OS, it removes the older OS's from its store. So El Capitan is not now readily available. See:
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 41825481
Also, there is a pretty good Mac troubleshooting guide here:

although it is a bit out of date.
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Expert Comment

ID: 41825486
You didn't mention which model Mac your client has. Hardware requirements for Sierra are:

2009 and later


2010 and later

MacBook Air
MacBook Pro
Mac mini
Mac Pro

If your client's Mac is incapable of running Sierra because it is not listed above, then as Rindi said, El Capitan rather than Sierra should be available from Software Updates.

Expert Comment

by:Qian Bao
ID: 41825534
Apple stopped distributing OS X El Capitan ever since the release of macOS Sierra on the App Store. You should consider doing a clean install of macOS Sierra onto your client's Mac. Clean install removes everything from the Mac and install a clean version of the OS.

If you really want to look into installing El Capitan instead of Sierra then follow this link. I am not sure if it really works but try it with your client's Mac. Open the link below with Safari. It should automatically open the App Store page of El Capitan.

Let me know the result.

Author Comment

ID: 41827872
Hi All - Will be testing on the mac tonight as its available for me.
By the way its an early 2009 iMac with 8GB of ram.

Many thanks

Assisted Solution

davidanders earned 125 total points
ID: 41828677  is a free, fast, and easy diagnostic for Macs
Built to help diagnose problems on the  gives complete specifications for Macs

I tried the El Capitan link with an older Macbook and the download is working.

Assisted Solution

by:Qian Bao
Qian Bao earned 125 total points
ID: 41829306
Glad to know the link works.

@Dominic You should download the El Capitan installation as soon as possible.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 41841885
Hi All  - sorry for the delay on this one - the client was unreachable for over a week so i couldn't get onto the mac again. I ran the disk repair utility and it found a number of errors which it repaired. Since then the client has reported an improvement in performance. So far so good i guess, though this mac is quite old so i may recommend he replace it eventually. Thanks all for your contributions.

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