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Why El Capitan is the only OSX version that can be downloaded from Apple site?

bbao asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2020-05-26
hi Mac folks,

could someone provide an in-depth explanation about why Apple has removed all links to download early OSX versions prior to El Captian?  and why El Capitan, the last OSX version is still allowed to download in a disk image via direct link, while newer macOS versions are provided as installer apps?

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Eoin OSullivanConsultant

Option A : Because its APPLE and they can do what they want!!
Option B : Because APPLE discontinued DVD drives on all their hardware and therefore stopped supplying install DVD disks and related DVD disk images are no longer relevant.  Installing or Upgrading OSX via the App Store or using the Installer on  a local HD partition became the standard of installing from OSX Snow Leopard onwards and by the time they released El Capitan they had stopped DVD images completely.  When El Capitan came out you could still get older OSX images on the App Store but they have since discontinued older versions in the last few years.  Apple Laptops / Macs from 2007/8 can all upgrade to El Capitan so Apple retain this as the last remaining disk image for these old computers.
That enough in-depth for you??
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2019

Eoin's right no, "Because its APPLE and they can do what they want!!"

And... downloading a .dmg file via the App updater is cheaper than burning + distributing DVDs.
bbaoIT Consultant


thanks a lot for sharing your thought.

therefore stopped supplying install DVD disks

that's my point. just because there is no physical DVD is supplied, Apple should keep providing the official download links for genuine OSX image files so existing users can keep what they legally own, though i know Apple does push or hope all existing users to move forward on to the latest hardware and software. but, for some reasons, some people do want to keep using their existing hardware and software, even just for a hobbit.

see Microsoft, you can still download a genuine copy of Office 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2019, Windows 7 and 10, sadly no Office 2003 and Windows XP, if the user can provide a valid product key of the product.

another point, if Microsoft or Apple doesn't provide genuine copies from their offical websites, users have to seek for help from other parties, then a lot of non-genuine copies and downloads will be available on the Internet, some of them may have adware or malware embedded and users may also face security risk when visiting those malicious websites. you must have seen these kinds of sites anywhere on the Internet.

related DVD disk images are no longer relevant.

that's not the case here. we, at least the professionals here, normally don't need these physical DVD discs, though i do have heaps of genuine discs from Apple and Microsoft in my storage. they are just collection of mine now.
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bbaoIT Consultant


If you really need an old version of OSX most good Apple Repair shops will have images on Hard Drives.

1. personally, i don't trust those copies as they are not digitally signed hence no quality, safety and security warranted.

2. actually it's not my personal concern because i do have a wide collection of those disk images, it is major for my remote customers who have a need to restore the system but lost the original media. i can't provide them a trusted source to download the images online.

Apple only provide and sell OSX for their devices so have much less obligation to sell or provide OSX without the associated hardware.

that sounds reasonable but actually just because of this, all Macs are from Apple, not matter how old it is, Apple should provide them the software which came with the hardware as part of their products.. i even hope Apple could provide downloads for their Apple DOS 3.3  and ProDOS though i know it is just my dream. :-)

I have gotten in the habit of saving my own backups of the installers so I have them in the event Apple deletes the downloads, as they frequently do. When downloading a new OS X version, once the installer starts, cancel the install. The installer will be in the downloads folder. Make a copy of the installer, then go ahead and run the downloaded file. Even if the installer deletes itself at the end of the installation, you still have your backup copy for future installations. I know you, as a consultant, know this, but share it here for others reading this thread.
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