Downloading macOS installers from the command line

You can download the current version of macOS via the Mac App Store, and older ones via these links:
  1. macOS Catalina
  2. macOS Mojave
  3. macOS High Sierra
  4. macOS Sierra
  5. OS X El Capitan
  6. OS X Yosemite

If, however, you find that you're unable to download using Software Update (with an error "Update not found" or "The requested version of macOS is not available"), you can always download your desired version directly from the command line ( by running the softwareupdate command. There are a number of documented arguments (accessible using --help), however, you can run one of the following commands to specifically download the full installer:

softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer

which will download the full installer for your currently installed version, or

softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version <>

e.g. if you want to download macOS Mojave, you would run:

softwareupdate --fetch-full-installer --full-installer-version 10.13.6

Once you have the full installer, you can use it for many purposes including:

  1. Installing macOS on externally connected media (e.g. a Thunderbolt-connected MacBook); or
  2. Creating a USB macOS installer.

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