Downgrading From OS X Mavericks to Mountain Lion

Apple.com/osx

Apple released OS X Mavericks in October 2013, the tenth major release of “The world’s most advanced operating system”. Hours after the release, I quickly upgraded the OS on my primary system, a late-2012 27″ iMac.

OS X 10.9 introduced several new features but, as expected, it also introduced several major bugs and removed features without good reason. After being frustrated with Mavericks, as many have, I decided to downgrade to 10.8.5 (OS X Mountain Lion).

A brief and condensed list of bugs and issues I found in OS X Mavericks:

  • There are a few incompatible applications that users were accustomed to using in Mountain Lion which no longer functioned, or caused some instability. RoaringApps.com is a trustworthy crowdsourced website for checking OS compatibility.
  • You lose control of scrolling with a Magic Trackpad, at random times through the day. A full system restart is required. Many users reported this on the Apple Support forum, and it’s still not resolved.
  • I love the new Multi-monitor features advertised in Mavericks and this was one of the reasons I upgraded so quickly. My main workstation is composed of 3 displays so it’s extremely important Apple handles this with care. Once again, they failed.
  • Shared network drives, screen sharing with other Macs on your network, AirDrop? Forget it. Not going to work if you’re using Mountain Lion on any of your other networked Macs. Theoretically it will … but implementation was subpar and obviously rushed.

I left Mountain Lion installed on a small 150GB partition before upgrading to Mavericks. The idea was that I could launch Mountain Lion at any time, just in case I didn’t find the new OS to work for my needs. Unfortunately, that caused more trouble than it was worth. With only 6GB left on the Mountain Lion partition, it quickly filled up and I needed more space. I tried deleting the Mavericks partition and allocating the free space to Mountain Lion, but it’s not that easy. (even while running Disk Utility from an external drive). Long story short, I ended up formatting the entire SSD (including the Mountain Lion recovery partition, yikes!)

Of course I kept a backup of all my data, thanks to Apple’s Time Machine (Which I no longer recommend using, by the way). This was not the concern. The next real challenge was finding, and installing, Mountain Lion. Why does Apple make this so complicated? And why do these bugs even exist? Short answer – OS X developers at Apple don’t support or think in the mind of the minority; most users would never notice the bugs and complications in Mavericks that we geeks (ahem, power users) do.

A persistent banner ad seen in the Mac App Store. Apple is encouraging all users to upgrade to Mavericks as soon as possible.

A persistent banner ad seen in the Mac App Store. Apple is encouraging all users to upgrade to Mavericks as soon as possible.

Rushing to download and install Mavericks back in October, I copied the installer onto the same SD card that Mountain Lion was on, replacing and deleting 10.8 forever. Installing via SD card was out of the question.  :-(

No problem, I can just download Mountain Lion from the App Store like I did last year? Wrong again – it’s not longer available in the Mac App Store and shows an error when attempting to download. At this point, I’m quite frustrated.

After a vast amount of searching, I found a clean copy of Mountain Lion on a popular torrent website. 1.5 hours and 4.5 gigabytes later, I inspected the installer package to notice it was completely mangled so I don’t recommend trying this. I ended up purchasing an Apple Mac Developer account, solely for the purpose of downloading an old OS. Apple provides many past versions of OS X and iOS to developers who want to test their app for previous generation products. Continue reading