How to Downgrade to macOS Catalina from macOS Big Sur

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Apple, one of the biggest tech giants worldwide, is popularly known for its efficient software and flawless hardware equipment. The regular updates, upgrades and patches make it almost trouble-free for its users. Still, this word almost is something which can, at times, create situations which are pretty much unpredictable and unprecedented. So recently Apple released the new macOS Big Sur which is the next big step after macOS Catalina. Though every version is tested thoroughly for bugs and issues, there is this “almost” chance that they may still creep in. If you are facing any such situation and don’t know when Apple will release a new patch, the best thing you can do is to downgrade or rollback to the previous macOS that you were working with. So in this article, I am going to share steps on how to downgrade macOS Big Sur to Catalina. Have a look:

icloud drive

Image Source: insider

Things you would need:

To downgrade from macOS Big Sur to macOS Catalina, there are some things or some precautionary steps that you should follow so that our rolling back of OS can be carried out smoothly without any kind of hitch. It will be like gathering condiments before you start cooking. What you will need:

1. An empty hard drive for backup or any cloud services like Google, Apple, Dropbox, etc.
2. A third party application for cleaning
3. Stable power connection
4. Stable Internet Connection
5. macOS Utilities

After you have gathered all that is needed, let’s move on to our first step.

1. Get rid of Junk files

Before we learn about how to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to macOS Catalina, we need to clean our Mac from junk files, folders, logs, cache, browser history, duplicate files, apps which are of no use or outdated, etc. This clean up is significant as it will help you to filter out files, folders and applications which are of no use to you before you backup your important files. If you start the backup even before you do this cleanup then not only you will have lots of useless files but will also have a lot less space for your essential data.

I would recommend you to download and install Cleanup My System. It is one of the best and most popular mac cleaners around the world. If you are looking for the best Mac cleaner or an application to clean your Mac’s RAM, optimize performance and memory, clean junk files, etc. then look no further, as Cleanup My System is here to handle it all. So, in short, you will be able to resolve a lot of problems that your Mac may be surrounded with, with this single utility tool.

clean now

After the scanning process has been completed, the program will show you a list of all concerning items that it found on your system and all that should be removed. You can also remove selected files if there are any you want to keep.

2. Create a Backup

You need to create a backup of all your files before you start downgrading the OS as it may corrupt or wipe out your existing files and other data. If there is any necessary data, then you stand at the risk of losing it, creating a backup helps protect against such situations.

Time Machine is macOS’ own backup software which comes embedded with Mac. You can use it to create automatic backups of files, folders, images, videos, and so much more. If you have not yet used Time Machine, then it may also be an excellent opportunity to learn about it.

1. On the upper left corner of your screen, you will see Apple company’s icon, click on it, and a list will appear.
2. In the list, look for system preferences and click on it.
3. This will open another window, select “Backup Disk” on it.
4. A list of backup options will appear in front of you. Select your preferred destination here.
5. Once you have selected the destination drive, click on “Use Disk”.
6. You can also secure your data through an encryption option here.
7. If this is your first time creating a backup, then do know that this process can take up even hours to complete but don’t worry, this happens only the first time and gets quite fast afterwards for subsequent backups.

external drive in mac

Image Source: apple

3. Clean up your Mac’s internal storage

After you have cleaned the junk files and created a backup of all your important files, the next step in the process of downgrading macOS Big Sur would be to clear out all the data on the internal storage. To do this, you will have to reset your hard drive, and then we will use the Time Machine application again to regain all the data but on a downgraded OS. Okay so here is how you can proceed from here:


Image Source: apple

4. Restore your Backup

If you had created the backup when you were still working with macOS Catalina, then this step will also restore your Catalina OS. But if you have not, then I would suggest you skip this step for now and go to step no. 5 and later return to step 4 again.

Now we will be restoring all files and data on your system, so before we get into the process, please attach your drive back to the system on which the backup is stored. Now,


Image Source: apple

5. Install Older macOS

Now we will get to the part on how to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to macOS Catalina. If you don’t have any backup already created for Catalina, then you will have to go through this step; otherwise, Step 4 will be enough. Even if you didn’t create any OS backup don’t worry, you can install the older OS in this step. We will have to get hold of Catalina’s installer file which is specifically a bootable installer file.


Image Source: osxdaily

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ –volume /Volumes/MyVolume

6. Getting back on track

You now have the bootable installer file in your hard drive; you can choose to install it anytime you want. Just follow the below steps.

system preferences on mac

Image Source: macworld

So these were the steps on how to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to macOS Catalina that I wanted to share with you. The whole process should proceed quite smoothly, but if you still face any kind of problems or issues, then you can contact Apple Support for any questions or solutions.

Hope it helps.

Thanks for reading!

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