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Downgrading MAC Operating System

Professional video editors should be aware of a cardinal rule.  Do not upgrade your operating system unless you are 100% sure your video editing software is compatible with it. 

This is particularly true with products such as Avid Media Composer, and Pro Tools.  Also, pay attention to the compatibility of 3rd party software and plug-ins.  Just because your editing software may be compatible with a new OS, some of your software plug-ins may not be.

This brings me to my next point.  If you purchase a brand new computer from Apple,  it will probably have the most recent operating system installed on it. This means if your version of video editing software doesn't work on the latest version of Mac OS 'Yosemite', you won't be able to run your software.

Please note: The hardware in a brand new Mac may prevent you from downgrading beyond the previous operating system.  So currently, that brand new Mac you just bought may only allow you to downgrade to Mavericks, and not Mountain Lion.

Fortunately, there is a way to re-download a copy of Mavericks.  You can even choose to partition your hard-drive so you can keep the Yosemite OS, along with Mavericks.  You can then boot between them.

To  perform a downgrade to Mavericks (Mac OS X 10.9) from Yosemite (10.10) you will need the following:

  • *A copy of the Mavericks installer (you can find this under the purchases tab within the App store)
  • A thumb drive or external drive that can be re-formatted
  • Some patience

Okay, ready?  Here are the steps.  You may want to print the steps out.

  • Navigate to the Apple menu in the upper left corner, and select the App Store.


The App Store window will appear. 

  • Click on the purchases tab at the top of the App Store window.


This will list all available purchases that are attached to your Apple ID.  If you are a previous owner of an earlier MAC with an older operating system, you will be able to re-download it.


*There one catch:  If you are not a previous Mac owner with a system that contained an earlier operating system, you will not see an option to download.   If this is the case, you will need to call in a favor to a friend or a local Apple service center to provide you with an installer.

  • Click on the download button for the MAC OS version that you want to revert to.  In this case, you can see I have options for Mavericks, Mountain Lion and Lion.

After you click on the download button, you will see the following warning that says 'OS X 10.10 is already installed on this computer, are you sure you want to download OS X 10.9?".


  • Click continue to download the OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) installer.

After the donlowad is complete, the installer will be located in your Applications folder.  For the time being, make sure the installer stays there.  Do not move it.


  • Launch the Apple disk utility.

This disk utility is located at: Mac HD / Applications / Utilities


  • Select an external thumbdrive or external drive and click on the erase tab.


*Make sure you select the correct external device!  You are going to erase all the data on this device to create a boot drive.

  • Choose Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) for the format

QUICK NOTE: If you are not seeing your drive(s) or devices on your desktop.  I recommend that you show those items for easy reference.  To do that:  Click on the finder menu and choose preferences.


  • Check the boxes for Hard Disks and External Devices.


You should now see all your hard drive devices on your MAC OS X deskop area.

  • After your external drive is formatted, make sure it has a name of 'Untitled'.  Don't worry, you can rename it later.

rename thumbdrive.png

  • Launch the Apple Terminal Console

The Terminal console is located within the Applications / Utilities folder on your Macintosh HD.


  • When the terminal window opens.  Copy the following command and paste it into the terminal prompt.

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

  • Enter in your password for your Mac OS Login Name.

*IMPORTANT: For this to work, you must have an MAC OS X user password set, You cannot have an empty password.  I say this, because I personally prefer not having passwords on my video editing systems. A password can be changed or configured within the users & groups category inside your system preferences.

Create Boot Disk.png

Make sure you give this process at least 30 minutes.  Wait until the terminal says Copy Complete.

  • Reboot the MAC and immediately hold down the option key.
  • Continue holding down the option key until you see the screen below (this may take a few minutes)


  • Click on the up arrow to 'Install OS X Mavericks'

The OS X Utilities windows will appear.  From here you can do a complete re-install of Mavericks onto your original system drive.  However, in doing so, you will have to peform a complete format or your original operating system.


If formatting your original operating system isn't an option,  you can use the disk utility to partition your drive so you can have multiple operating systems on the same MAC HD. 

  • Within the Disk Utility, highlight the system drive, and click on the Partition Tab.
  • Click on the 'plus' icon in the lower left corner of the Partition Layout area.


To switch between operating systems, hold down the option key each time you reboot your machine.  You will then be able to choose between either Yosemite, or Mavericks.

I hope you've found this tutorial useful.  Please consider GeniusDV for future digital training consulting or training services.

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