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How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina

No matter how great macOS Big Sur seems, you can experience performance issues as you update your Mac. So in this article, I’m going to explain how to downgrade from macOS Big Sur.


Back up your data

Your Mac probably contains your personal data & documents that you do not want to lose. Therefore, to keep them alive after a downgrade, you have to back up your data. Before you copy all your documents, photos, and videos to the drive, it’s better to organize every piece of data to avoid clutter. Transferring your files, you may simultaneously copy junk and old logs to your drive too.

To prevent this, use CleanMyMac X. CleanMyMac X is a dedicated Mac cleaner that helps to deal with all types of junk: outdated cache, old log files, temporary files, and more! It will help to clear up your storage space before you back up all your data. First, download CleanMyMac X Then, install the app – it won’t take longer than a couple of minutes.

  • As you launch CleanMyMac X, press Scan.
  • When CleanMyMac X finished scanning, you can review what it has found.
  • Then, press the Run button to clear your Mac of junk and run some speed-up tasks.

How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina

Now, all junk and clutter are gone, and you can back up everything! You can use Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or an external hard drive – just make sure you back up everything.


Erase your Mac’s hard drive

After you make a backup of all your data, you can move to the next step – erasing your Mac’s hard drive. This will delete everything from your Mac, but you can restore your data later with a Time Machine backup.

  • First, plug your Mac into power. You definitely don’t want your Mac to power off unexpectedly.
  • Then restart your Mac. Hold Command-R when your Mac’s rebooting.

The Utilities menu should appear.
  • Here, choose Disk Utility.
  • Next, click Continue and select Startup Disk, which is often labeled as Macintosh HD.
  • Click Erase and type your disk’s name, select the APFS file format and choose GUID Partition Map. And confirm.
  • When prompted, enter your Apple ID. Quit Disk Utility when it’s done.


Install macOS Catalina

Now, all that’s left to do is to restore your backup, which will roll back your Mac to macOS Catalina.

Now you can restore all your files & data & bring your Mac back to the state you were in before installing macOS Big Sur. If your Time Machine backup is stored on an external drive then plug it into your Mac.

  • To restore your Time Machine Catalina backup, restart your Mac and hold Command-R when it reboots.
  • Next, select the Restore From Time Machine Backup option on the Utilities window and click Continue.
  • Now, you need to choose the restore source. Choose Time Machine backup and then, select the backup you want to restore from.
  • Choose the most recent backup that occurred before you installed macOS Big Sur and click Continue.
  • Then, > select a destination disk, (where the contents of your backup will be stored. )
  • Finally, Click restore and press Continue. 
The process may take some time. Your Mac will then restart running macOS Catalina. And that’s all!


Create a bootable installer

But wait! What if you don’t have a Time Machine backup to restore from? Then you can roll back to macOS Catalina using a bootable installer. If you’re reading this before macOS Big Sur ships, you can go to the App Store and search for Catalina, then download it.

  • Quit the installer if it tries to install the OS.
  • If your Mac already runs macOS Big Sur, download the macOS Catalina installer from the Apple website.
  • Prepare an external hard drive that has at least 12 GB of available storage and plug it in your Mac.
  • Then, on your Mac, launch the Disk Utility app.

How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina
  • Erase your hard drive by selecting Mac OS Extended format.
How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina

  • Now, transfer your Catalina installer to your hard drive.
  • To do this, open Terminal and paste this command.
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

This command assumes that the downloaded file, which is your bootable Catalina installer, is in your Applications folder.

  • Enter your administrator password and press Enter again.
  • The terminal will not show anything when you enter your password. MyVolume is the name of the hard drive; if your hard drive has a different name, replace MyVolume with the name of your hard drive.
  • Then, type “Y” to confirm that you want to erase the hard drive and press Return.
  • When Terminal says “done”, your hard drive should have the same name as the installer that you downloaded.

How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina



Install macOS Catalina

  • Now, all that’s left to do is to install macOS Catalina on your Mac.
  • Plug your hard drive > (which is now your bootable installer) into your Mac.
  • Open System Preferences and go to Startup Disk.

How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina
  • Choose your bootable installer as a startup disk and press Restart.
How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina

  • Now, your Mac should start up to macOS Recovery.
  • Here, make sure your Mac has an internet connection to download firmware updates.
  • In the Utilities window that appears, select Install macOS and click Continue. Your Mac will then start installing macOS Catalina and will restart when it’s done.
Phew! It wasn’t easy, but we’ve done it! Hopefully, your Mac will run faster with macOS Catalina.



How to increase the speed of your Mac

If your Mac is getting slow after the update, but you do not want to do this long process & go back to the previous OS, you can use this solution and do it quickly. CleanMyMac X has a helpful Maintenance feature that could fix all possible issues on your Mac.
  • Just open CleanMyMac X.
  • As you launch it, go to the Maintenance module and click View All Tasks.
How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina
  • Check the boxes next to the first four operations and also select Rebuild Launch Services. And press Run!
How to downgrade from macOS Big Sur to Catalina

Now, CleanMyMac X will run the set of fixes to speed up your Mac. That has been a step-by-step guide to downgrading from macOS Big Sur to Catalina. If you’ve found this article helpful, give it a share and comment below.

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