Tutorial: Change Mac OS X System Version

As I’ve said in a previous post, nearly the exact same process (that is, editing the systemversion.plist file) is used for this as for changing the iPhone OS version, since OSX and iPhone OS are based on the same core, but I’m writing this with more desktop OSX-specific steps and screenshots.

I suppose the question would arise, “Why would one want to do this?” On Leopard, it is incredibly useful in situations where one may wish to install software that claims to require an update that you don’t want to install. I’ll be demonstrating on Snow Leopard, but the procedure is the same on both. In my demonstration, I will be changing the version number from 10.6.2 to 10.7.0. This has no practical use, but will suffice for demonstration purposes.



1. Mac OS X

2. A basic knowledge of Terminal


1. Open Terminal.

2. Type sudo nano -w /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist

Does the file path look familiar from my last tutorial?

3. Press Enter. You will be prompted for your password. Type it in. You won’t see it on your screen. Press Enter again.

4. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the end of the 10.6.2 under ProductUserVisibleVersion and erase the version number. Enter in a version number of your choice.

5. Repeat for the version number displayed under ProductVersion.

6. Press Control key iconX (Control-X) to exit. It will ask you if you wish to “save modified buffer.” Press y. It will then ask for a file name to write. Press Enter to accept the default.

7. Exit Terminal.


Needless to say, to reverse this process, just follow the steps again, changing the version number back to the original system version.

99 Responses to “Tutorial: Change Mac OS X System Version”

  1. MBG1987

    Thank you so much. it worked quite well and you save me a lot of time!

  2. carol

    i changed it on the file and now my mac won’t start. i try to do this on terminal but i’m not as user, because I’m using terminal located in startup. can you help me?

  3. Robin

    I used this method and after a reboot all my system apps(Safari, software update, app store, dashboard, spotlight etc.) were broken and now they won’t start. Reverting the changes doesn’t work either. It says that I have to check with a developer if the application is compatible with the current version of the operating system.

    The worst part is that even the Installer application is broken, so I can’t install packages or reinstall programs.

    What to do? Please contact me..

  4. Curits

    Why would you change MAJOR system releases?

    It will try to install lion updates, and your system will be hosed.

    DO NOT DO THIS. You can change minor system levels like 10.6.7 to 10.6.8 but not 10.6.7 to 10.7, don’t ever do this.

    I don’t know why you’d want to change major releases.

  5. Joel

    Heh, yes I did the very same thing, in order to get the iBooks Author program to work under Snow Leopard. Trouble is, I ran Software Update after and it wanted to download a new version of Safari & iTunes, which I didn’t give a second thought. Upon restart, the same issue arises with most apps: they won’t launch. System Preferences, 3rd Party apps and TextEdit remain unaffected, though. I reversed the edits to the .plist file and rebooted, but the same issues persist. I’m enabling root user, now, I’ll see if I can’t launch the apps from there.

  6. Joel

    Just in case anybody else runs into this issue, repairing the Disk Permissions with Disk Utility (found in your Applications/Utilities folder) will solve the problem of applications not launching (including the Installer).

    However, it won’t solve the problem of needing to downgrade your version of, say, Safari, if you happened to update it using your falsified OS X version number. In order to do that, it seems a full reinstall of a Combo Update package for whatever OS you were using (Leopard, Snow Leopard) is required.

  7. Rick

    How can I revert the changes on os x utilities booting with command+r?

  8. Sudheer Avula

    This worked like charm……… You saved my time a lot….
    Thanks you dude…!!!!

  9. Maxo

    Once i did it with 10.5.2 (to 10.5.8)
    Now I did it with 10.6.6 (to 10.6.8)

    Works fine.

    But Curits is right.
    Don’t turn it to OS X with different name – e.g. don’t try to turn Snow Leo into Lion or Mountain Lion!

  10. Floor

    Tried to do this but now my computer is no longer working. Tried to restart but to no avalisten. Keep seeing a blue screen. Does anyone know what to do?

  11. Drew


  12. Spidey

    Still cannot run mac os x apps that require lion -,-
    Doesnt work and never will

  13. Adi

    I’ve got the same problem as”Floor” with the blue screen. I’m thinking about taking it to an apple store but does anyone know another way to fix it? Also is this a jailbreak of sorts? Is this illegal as in would apple screw you for this?

  14. Guillermo Velasco

    Hi. I just suffered this morning the issue that makes my computer unusable. I was using 10.6.8 and changed a few times to 10.7 without problem. I think some problem may be if I were changed it to 10.8… (I don’t remember), but I always changed back to 10.6.8 after the soft prove .
    I don’t have another Mac, and the DVD reader doesn’t work anymore.
    I hope this works… if not… glup!
    If you know a way to restore the issue from Single-Mode, thank you. I can’t fix permissions due I can only boot from my main disk.

    After all day looking for a solution, I’m going to go to a friend that have another Mac, and I will try to re-install Mac OS via Firewire. It’s my last chance… 🙁


  15. Guillermo Velasco

    YAEH, I FIXED IT!!!!

    It was a SILLY THING. I wrote a “+” by mistake in the code of the “systemVersion.plist” file. It was the thing that makes Mac go crazy.

    To fix the file, do this:

    Boot in Single Mode (command + S)
    First, make the two commands to make disk writable:

    /sbin/fsck -fy (several times until you don’t get the **** CHANGED ***** message. Only the “OK”
    /sbin/mount -uw /


    sudo nano -w /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist

    And check if you typed anything that must not been there. Delete, save and reboot.

    I got my Mac live again. I was almost to throw the towel… Not working DVD drive, not working Firewire…

    UFFfffffffff……. -_-

  16. mac 10.6.8

    btw i tried it and it did “change” my osx to 10.9 but how do u “change” the memory?

  17. Howard

    I changed my version from 10.6.8 to 10.7, lots of stuff stopped working,” you cannot use this version of the application with this version of OS X” changed it back via Guillermo Velasco’s work around because Terminal no longer worked but still not restored even though the .plist file shows evrything ok. About this MAC does not show the os version just machines serial number.
    My dvd drive doesn’t work is there anyway to fix this?

  18. Gentblue

    Unfortunately, this does not always work anymore in Mac Store. 🙁 It looks like we are forced into upgrading even though there is no technical need to do so…

  19. Penjo Dorji

    Thanks a ton. It helped me install Netbeans on Yosemite. Couldn’t use the edit .mpkg method

  20. Nicky Scarola

    I need desperately to install an 10.7 app, but I´m afraid to do this because I´m not an expert in terminal.
    Could you email or publish here the text only so I copy and paste.
    I will make a copy of the system version Plist just in case if anything goes wrong I replace it..
    Thank you.

  21. Seth Wenger

    I desperately need help! I did this process to back Yosemite down to Mavericks immediately afterwards I couldn’t access system settings. I restarted and now my computer wont boot at all. All I can access is recovery settings. I’ve tried to reinstall Yosemite through recovery but now it says it can’t be installed on my HD.

  22. Tony

    Hey, great tip! Say, after the “Needless to say..” part, it should be noted that you need to say “after installing whatever it is you needed to, reverse this process in the Terminal BEFORE you restart your machine. Otherwise, not more Terminal for you!”

    As a save, you could have the actual Terminal Utility from the older version you tricked your Mac into thinking it was saved to an external drive somewhere, open it on your Mac with the identity crisis, and change it back that way…

    What a Riiiiiiiiide!

  23. Deepansh stupid

    Is it ok to temporarily downgrade Yosemite 10.10 to Mavericks 10.9? I need to install an older version of R that says it works on OS X 10.5 and later, but for some reason fails to recognize 10.10 as “later” than 10.5. (is this a bug or something? It sounds really stupid if Apple hasnt fixed this yet). One of the forums advised temporarily changing the version name to 10.9, and R will then recognize it later than 10.5
    The concern that i had was, what if i downgrade and then crash my system or do some irretrievable damage? I read somebody saying switching should not be tried between OS with different names, but I dont know if downgrade is safer than upgrade?

    Genuine advice sincerely appreciated,

  24. Deepansh

    Is it ok to temporarily downgrade Yosemite 10.10 to Mavericks 10.9? I need to install an older version of R that says it works on OS X 10.5 and later, but for some reason fails to recognize 10.10 as “later” than 10.5. (is this a bug or something? It sounds really stupid if Apple hasnt fixed this yet). One of the forums advised temporarily changing the version name to 10.9, and R will then recognize it later than 10.5
    The concern that i had was, what if i downgrade and then crash my system or do some irretrievable damage? I read somebody saying switching should not be tried between OS with different names, but I dont know if downgrade is safer than upgrade?

    Genuine advice sincerely appreciated,

  25. ibrahiem

    tnx pro you
    Big loophole has opened in OS X system
    i can downgrade os x yosemite 10.10 to mavericks 10.9
    you help me

  26. Eric

    I changed my systemversion.plist to 10.9.1 but now none of my applications are working. So I can’t open textedit or terminal to change it back to 10.10.1. Disk Utility is also not working and I can’t download items to fix becuase I don’t have an app working that can extract the downloads!!!

    What do I do???

  27. chad

    I did what the OP said without reading the comments first. Always a bad idea. I was prompted to restart and absent-mindedly went along with it, without thinking to restore the system version.plist. Thankfully, after a little trial and error, Guillermo Velasco came up huge, and all systems appear to be up and at em again. Thanks, you two!

  28. Sot

    I am experiencing also the problem that my macbook doesnt open unfortunatly. I tried to make the correction of the file SystemVersion.plst as Guillermo Velasco wrote above through the startup terminal but as i saw the file was blank and i tried to write the content from the start but it doesnt work because i write something wrong. Do you know what i should write inside the SystemVersion.plst? I have OS X Yosemite

  29. imawesome

    hey, you can change the .plist to revert to a previous os version.

    for example, i changed the system version to 10.8.1 and ran the, ‘Install OS X Mavericks’ and installed mavericks on my yosemite HD.

  30. BrandonD


    When using this to install software that thinks (correctly) that 10.10 < 10.whatever. Leave the terminal open, change the version, start the install, and as soon as the install passes the version check, IMMEDIATELY change the version back to original and save and close terminal. Don't risk the software restarting or you forgetting, you literally need to change if for a few seconds and then right back. Thanks for this walkthrough it worked perfectly

  31. edwin

    How do i do this on my macbook laptop am poor in terminal. Please any help?

  32. Erik R

    For Eric’s question. I had the same problem, couldn’t open apps to make edits to plist.

    My workaround was to copy the file to a flash drive and edit on a second computer. Then I pasted file back onto computer and overwrote plist.

    This worked like a charm after re-boot.

  33. Erik R

    One more note. After re-boot apps still looked crossed out like they wouldn’t work. After clicking app goes back to normal.

  34. jamir

    i changed my software and reset ughhh !! now my terminal wont open, anyone knows how i can changed my version back to 10.10.2…???

  35. vaughn

    I found an easy solution to the issue everyone is running into — I too restarted my computer after installing, and was unable to open terminal.app. So, I downloaded an OS X Terminal alternative, iTerm2, (http://iterm2.com/), used this app to reverse the changes in the command line, restarted, and all was back to normal. Hope this helps some people out!

  36. Rodrigo

    I also have a problem:
    I changed my Yosemite version 10.10.2 to 10.9.0… installed the app that I needed and reverted the version but suddenly the Dock restarted and the OSX apps couldn’t open anymore… I didn’t restart the machine because I preferred to perform a backup (just in case) of my folders… but what I did is that I re-enacted the installation process but with a different app; I tried with Audacity (just to mention one example) and didn’t work but then I thought that if the Dock was the problem then I should install an app that attached automatically to the dock like Opera browser… I installed Opera, the Dock restarted and the native apps worked again. I think that the trick so this can be avoided is to reboot the dock once you finished the first installation, just before you go back with the original version because if you close terminal you wont be able to open it again easily.

  37. pendant

    I tried vaughn’s solution, but without mac utility or any other software to unzip iTerm2, I am unable to use it. Same as above, I had stupidly used terminal to change version 10.10.2 to 10.8. and am now unable to do anything after closing terminal. All my apps are unusable.

  38. moley

    I’m looking for a way to just disable the “Upgrade to Yosemite” notifications that popup NON-STOP until you do it. I was hoping it might be as easy as this, telling it you have 10.10 already installed when you really have 10.9.5. None of this nonsense would be required if Apple didnt jam an update down everybody’s throat each year, and make them “incompatible” with previous versions. Just saying.

  39. Gennaro

    i finally fix my imac.. just turn of your imac and push cmd+r till you see a refresh page

  40. Gennaro

    i finally fix my imac.. just turn of your imac and push cmd+r wille your turning your imac on push it till you see a refresh page

  41. shabbar

    hey guys i did this to help run my gearbox and it didnt work, and i restarted my mac and now everything is blocked i cant access my system preferences, itunes, photos and turn on terminal to revert the process, someone please help me this is very urgent

  42. nikky

    help plz…tried to downgrade yosemite to mavericks..but mavericks didnt install right…so now i have yosemite but it says i have 10.9 but i cant acces any of my apps because it says im using the wrong version…i cant open app store to redownload mavericks because it says i have wrong version. please help! how can i either go back to the right version of yosemite or get mavericks to redownload properly???

  43. Justin Foley

    Tried this to move from 10.10 down to 10.8 to install an older version of ProTools. I immediately ran into big trouble – no programs would launch immediately.

    I brought up Guillermo’s fix on my phone and went through it. I’m back in business and I’m never going to try this again.

    Thanks, Guillermo, if you ever read this.

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  45. Karim

    Wow i tríed Gennaro’s workaround (cmd+r) and it worked ! It reinstalled OS X but now I have a working protools 10 on my MacBook Pro 15″ retina with Yosemite! … Tnx !

  46. topdiggy2

    For those of you who are going to try this running Yosemite 10.10.4 *****PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE BLOG FIRST****

    I didnt and got stuck. So here are the steps i took to repair it

    My System: ASUS P8P67 Pro 3.0, EVGA Geforce 210, Intel i5 2500k, 16bg ddr3.

    1. Access your desktop via safe mode (-x).
    2. Once in your system, all apps will be XXX out so you cant edit the plist file. Instead copy the file to your networked cpu. In my case i was able to access my shared drive on my Windows machine sitting on the same LAN network. Accessed my network drive.
    3, Copy and paste the SysteVersion.plist file to your networked drive.
    4. Open file using any text editor (in my case notepad in Win8).
    5. Make the correction to plist file then save it
    6. Go back to your hackintosh (or real mac system) and refresh the folder.
    7. Copy the editied file from your network drive to the /library/CoreServices folder. Click ok to replace.
    8. Restart and open desktop again, Use safe mode if necessary.
    9. Open Disk Utilities . Verify & repair Disk permissions.
    10. Restart, and it shoud be working now with your new software installed.

    This is how i got Pro Tools 10 HD to install in Yosemite 10.10.4

    Hope this helps somebody out there!!!

  47. Kevin

    I’ve read most of the comments here. A few things I want to say. I used this technique to very easily install Pro Tools 10 on my new iMac that came loaded with 10.10.3 Yosemite. I just switched the Product Version back to like 10.7.3 or something like that. It installed, didn’t require reboot, and then I changed the version back via the sudo command to 10.10.3.

    It seems people are having issues once they reboot their system and before they change the product version back to it’s actual version. If I change the product version to something like 10.7.4, and then I try to view the information within the About This Mac tab the window never appears. Once I change it back the window appears. Additionally, if I change the product version to anything within 10.10 the window WILL appear. For instance, if I change the version to 10.10.7 the About This Mac window will open.

    NOW I have one issue. I’ve noticed that the formatting of the product version tricks a lot of apps. For instance, I’m attempting to install Reason 7. Since the product version of OS X i’m running is “10.10.4” Reason 7 reads it simply as “10.4!” You can see my issue. Reason 7 won’t install on OS X prior to like 10.7 I think. So, 10.4 is obviously way out of the question.

    Does anyone know if I were to change the product version from 10.10.4 to say 10.10.7 in order to trick reason in to thinking my OS X is version 10,7 and then reboot before changing it back (because the Reason 7 installer requires a reboot immediately after installation) I would encounter a major issue? Or would I be fine since the overall version would still remain the same?

  48. Anonymous

    Please note an issue which i have run into, terminal will not re-launch if you have changed the version in the plist and have closed terminal. You will have to go and find the plist, copy it to the desktop, edit it using a text editor such as text wrangler and save and copy it back and overwrite the original.

  49. Leandro

    Thanks Guillermo Velasco for the salvation!

    (Note for the author) Thank you for the post, but please, next time, make it VERY CLEAR of the things that we SHOULDN’T DO, because I got in a trap like many others here and all my system apps stopped working. So it complicated much more than helped.

  50. Monkey Studio

    ****PROBLEM SOLVED****

    Woooow. This is a great solution. Thanks, Justin, You saved a lot of time and money.
    I was trying for several days to install ProTools HD 10 on my MacBook. But the installer only works till Mavericks, and I was using Yosemite. Easy enough I followed this tutorial and got it installed. Cheers.
    But the problem that comes after was hard to solve, but reading the comments I was able to solve it.

    I’m with Tony. It lacks on the last tip. It should be: “Needless to say..” part, it should be noted that you need to say “after installing whatever it is you needed to, reverse this process in the Terminal BEFORE you restart your machine. Otherwise, not more Terminal for you!”

    Vaughn, you’re the guy!! Great solution. Just go to ( http://iterm2.com/ ), download it, unzip it e do the sudo again. Works absolutely perfect. But you will need an app to extract the zip. I always have third parts apps to unzip for several reasons. So I used The Unarchiver and boooom. All done. (Keka, iPackr iZip an others also remained useful during the problem).

  51. Mike

    I tried this on El Capitan (OS X 10.11) and when I try to save the file name I get this error:
    [ Error writing /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist: Operation no ]
    And it won’t overwrite my SystemVersion.plist file.
    Has anyone seen this or know how to get past this?

  52. Glady

    justin…pls help me out asap…
    i changed the version wen installing the protools hd..
    but i cudnt reverse and change it to past version…
    i cant launch even my terminal…
    what shud i do now…pls help..

  53. Eduardo Carrera

    My brother has an iMac with Yosemite IOS 10.9 and would like to use a iBook autor app. Whittier can we do? we ha e belén advine no to use capital

  54. Ladji

    Hi, I have a macbook pro retina with Yosemite system 10.10.2
    I changed the system in 10.8.5 in terminal with the function (sudo nano -w /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist). to fill install Protools 9.
    The .dmg does not open nor my preference as I really want to change the system has re Yosemite but also not open terminal that is not compatible with this version of osx ???

  55. Sparkle

    Hi there Justin . Just installed Pro Tools 10 on my
    Imac but it doesnt want to launch terminal. Nothing happens! What can I do?

  56. Ed

    Before you upgrade anything always research and don’t be the first to do it. Let someone else work the bugs out for you.
    And always BACKUP!

    I just have to laugh at all of those who unknowingly tweaking a system that is meant to be idiot proof, where so much can go wrong. You people need to get PC’s and run Windows or DOS.

  57. Brad


    I have el capitan… This did not work for me. I couldn’t get past the first couple steps, because… I changed everything, then hit command, x, then saved, when I pressed enter, it said, “Error writing”. Please help.

  58. Andres

    Same issue as Brad
    “when I pressed enter, it said, “Error writing”. Couldn’t pass through the saving the modified .plist

  59. JJ

    Just incase you get stuck after re-booting like I did, download this terminal replacement app – https://www.iterm2.com/ to access your system version plist and reset your OS version back to normal, then reboot.
    worked for me!

  60. Biggs

    I just tried to edit the sudo nano -w /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersi­on.plist in terminal. It opens to a blank window. No data to edit. Suggestions?

  61. egtest

    Thanks for this. There are many reasons to do this for people who don’t know, e.g. if you want to install R 2.14.2 on Yosemite or El Capitan, the installer will tell you you can’t, as your system is “too old” (since the installers don’t know how to handle two digit final version numbers). R 2.14.2 works perfectly fine on new systems, it is just an installer bug.

    So, switching the SystemVersion plist to 10.7, installing, then switching back to 10.11 is a perfect fix.

    But, it also breaks many, many, many things. So yes you should switch back right afterwards.

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  63. FirstTimeMacOwner

    has anyone found a fix for this?? I’ve tried it, and since then, i cant get to anything… no terminal or nothing!! also, the bar on top of the screen is gone since this… (where u see the wifi/bluetooth/date/the little apple in the top left/the GO&etc. buttons) the whole thing, GONE!! Can sumone PLEASE fix this.!? i really need itunes to work, as long as other apps!!

  64. Eric

    Hi, would this possiblty work if I were to change 10.4.11 to 10.5.8 to install audio plugins that require update then change back to 10.4.11 I’ve got so much that works in this old Mac for audio production I just want to add a few effects

  65. Chuck Kahn

    Changing El Capitan from 10.11.6 to 10.9.5 messed up the system. Multiple applications were confused. Terminal wouldn’t launch. Chrome wouldn’t load web pages. .dmg files wanted to be opened with mplayer. Fortunately I saved the original SystemVersion.plist in Dropbox and Dropbox was still able to sync so I could drag the original back to CoreServices folder. Also, Terminal in Recovery mode doesn’t have access to sudo or nano commands, so the attempt to re-edit the file in Recovery Mode failed also.

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  68. Mitch

    I used it to install an older version of Pro Tools. Worked perfectly, but pro tools prompted a reboot and then my computer was acting very strangley. Terminal wouldn’t work as it thought my os was am older version. Luckily, had a drive with an old os with terminal on it. I used that to change back to the correct os.
    So, don’t reboot until you change back to the original os is my advice

  69. Florence Lui

    Re: Brett and JJ

    I got in the same trouble as other users–rebooted after changing versions in Terminal and now can’t access any apps. The real trouble is that I can’t install iTerm or anything else bc the package installer after changing versions doesn’t work either…

    Please let me know if you have any workarounds–I will be forever grateful!

  70. Kulafu

    I should not have listen to this not so genius and piece of crap tutorial. Your days are numbered!

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  72. Michael

    Hi Justin,
    Just followed your tips how to upgrade my OS 10..6.8 to 10.9
    After closing terminal, no OS #indication at all, can not run Terminal also
    Any suggestion please?

  73. Abkadir Rifaei

    I just got an old mac os x version 10.5.1. Because it was a confiscated item, no password or install disc is available. So I’m having trouble changing the password (Shutdown the Command-R won’t open the recovery mode) and updating software (obviously need a password 🙂 . I’m not a computer expert, just a doctor. very limited IT knowledge. So , please guide me on this one.

  74. Dainton Drummond

    I had 10.8.5 I upgraded using this process to 10.9.5 I was able to install the app but it didn’t run. This whole time I never closed terminal. Didn’t even read the comments yet. Since it didn’t work I changed it back to 10.8.5. I restarted my computer just to be safe and it worked with no issues and all my apps open back up the way I left them

  75. Chuck

    Well, now I’ve screwed it up. I deleted the version numbers and none of my applications will work now. I can’t open terminal so I can’t do anything with my mac now. Any ideas?

  76. Luciana

    Hello I just want to know if the method is still working my version is unhealthy! iMac5,2 (10.6.8) Thank you

  77. JTR

    I have 10.10.5 and wanted to install Parallels 7, but the installer seems to check only the first digit after the . and thinks that 10.10 < 10.4

    So I changed the System Version to 10.5 – nothing works anymore, I cannot even start the installer, so this does not help!

    I was close to giving up, then I read Kevin's comment who said that if he leaves 10.10 and updates only the minor version, his system still works. So I tried 10.50.5 and YEAH, it did the trick. OSX still thought the version number is OK as it is highter than 10.10.5 and the Parallels installer accepts it as well as it only reads "10.5"!

    Thanks Kevin!

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