How to upgrade to OS X El Capitan

OS X El Capitan remains available for Mac computers that can't upgrade to macOS Mojave, High Sierra, or Sierra, or that need to upgrade to El Capitan first.


Check compatibility

You can upgrade to OS X El Capitan from OS X Snow Leopard or later on any of the following Mac models. Your Mac also needs at least 2GB of memory and 8.8GB of available storage space.

MacBook introduced in late 2008 or later
MacBook Air introduced in late 2008 or later
MacBook Pro introduced in mid 2007 or later
Mac mini introduced in early 2009 or later
iMac introduced in mid 2007 or later
Mac Pro introduced in early 2008 or later
Xserve models introduced in early 2009

To find your Mac model, memory, storage space, and macOS version, choose About This Mac from the Apple () menu. If your Mac isn't compatible with OS X El Capitan, the installer will let you know.

  

Make a backup

Before installing any upgrade, it’s a good idea to back up your Mac. Time Machine makes it simple, and other backup methods are also available. Learn how to back up your Mac.

  

Get connected

It takes time to download and install OS X, so make sure that you have a reliable Internet connection. If you're using a Mac notebook computer, plug it into AC power. 

  

Download OS X El Capitan

For the strongest security and latest features, find out whether you can upgrade to macOS Mojave, the latest version of macOS.

If you still need OS X El Capitan, use this App Store link: Get El Capitan. To download it, your Mac must be using macOS High Sierra or earlier.

  

Begin installation

After downloading, the installer opens automatically.

Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions. You might find it easiest to begin installation in the evening so that it can complete overnight, if needed.

Installer screen

  

  

Allow installation to complete

Please allow installation to complete without putting your Mac to sleep or closing its lid. Your Mac might restart, show a progress bar, or show a blank screen several times as it installs both OS X and related updates to your Mac firmware.

  

Learn more

  • If you're using Leopard, upgrade to Snow Leopard to get the App Store. Then check for software updates by choosing Software Update from the Apple menu. After installing all Snow Leopard updates, you should have the App Store app and can use it to download OS X El Capitan. You can then use El Capitan to upgrade to a later macOS.
  • OS X El Capitan won't install on top of a later version of macOS, but you can erase your disk first or install on another disk. 
  • You can use macOS Recovery to reinstall macOS.
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