How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

Here is  How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey in an easy steps. If you’ve upgraded your Mac to macOS 12 Monterey but are still experiencing stability issues or find new features aren’t working, there’s always a way to roll back to Big Sur.

You have multiple ways to downgrade macOS Monterey to Big Sur (e.g., restore an older Time Machine backup or use Internet Recovery). But the method that works on any Big Sur-compatible Mac includes removing Monterey and installing Big Sur via a bootable USB drive.

Here is what you need to know and how you can easily return to Macos Big Sur:

If your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac mini is running with macOS Monterey, you cannot downgrade it to Big Sur or another version of macOS.

Back up your Mac

Downgrading from macOS Monterey to Big Sur will result in data loss. So, before you start, we highly recommend setting up Time Machine.

Since Time Machine backups from macOS Monterey are fully compatible with Big Sur, you should have no trouble migrating your data after the downgrade.

If you already use Time Machine, choose Time Machine > Back Up Now on the menu bar. If not, follow the steps below.

1. Connect an empty external hard drive or SSD to your Mac. Ideally, it should match or exceed the capacity of the internal storage drive.

2. Select the Apple icon in the menu bar and choose System Preferences > Time Machine.

3. Select the Select Backup Disk button.

4. Select the external Drive and select Use Disk.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

5. Wait until Time Machine formats and backs up your Mac to an external drive.

Alternatively, you can manually copy any important files and folders to the external drive before you begin. If you don’t have a spare external device, try uploading files to iCloud Drive (if you’re signed in with your Apple ID) or another cloud storage service with enough free space.

Download the macOS Big Sur installer

After backing up your Mac, you must download the macOS Big Sur installer through the App Store. It is 12 GB, so wait about 1-2 hours until the Download is complete.

1. Select the link below to open the macOS Big Sur download page on the Mac App Store. If you don’t use Safari, select Open App Store after selecting the link.

Download macOS 11 Big Sur

2. Select the Get button.

3. Select Download to download the Big Sur installer to the Applications folder on your Mac.

4. After your Mac loads the Big Sur installer, it will try to launch the installer — choose Exit or press Command + Q to exit.

Format the USB drive

Next, you must focus on creating a bootable macOS Big Sur USB. You need an empty flash drive with at least 16GB of storage. Then you have to format it in the Mac OS Extended file system.

1. Connect the flash drive to the Mac.

2. Open the Trackpad and select Other > Disk Utility.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

3. Control-clicking the flash drive on the Disk Utility sidebar and select Erase.

4. Enter a name for the Drive and set the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then select Erase again.

5. Wait until Disk Utility has finished formatting the Drive.

6. Select Done and exit Disk Utility.

Create bootable Big Sur USB

You must use Mac’s Terminal to create a bootable USB Big Sur once the Drive has been formatted.

1. Open the Trackpad and select Other > Terminal.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

2. Type this following command into the Terminal window, replacing drive_name with the flash drive’s name: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur. app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/drive_name

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

3. Press Enter. It would help if you had the administrator password, so type that password and press Enter again.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

4. Enter Y to confirm you want to erase the flash drive. If you see a pop-up asking you to give Terminal permission to access the flash drive, select OK.

5. Wait until Terminal finishes creating the bootable Big Sur USB. Exit it when you see Install media now available.

Enable External Booting on Mac T2

Using a Mac powered by Intel with an Apple T2 Security Chip, you must enable a specific setting that allows booting from external media through macOS Recovery. This does not apply to macOS devices running on Apple Silicon (for example, a Mac M1).

1. Launch the Apple menu, then choose Restart.

2. Press the Command and R keys while choosing Restart. Hold until the Apple logo appears; macOS Recovery will show up momentarily.

3. Select Utilities > Startup Security Utility on the menu bar.

4. Select Enter macOS Password and enter the administrator password. Alternatively, enter your Mac’s firmware password (if necessary).

5. The radio button that says “Allow booting from external or removable media” should be selected.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)


If you later have problems installing macOS Big Sur, revisit this screen and set Secure Boot to Medium Security or No Security.

6. Exit Startup Security Utility.

7. Open the Apple menu and select Shutdown.

Boot from a USB drive

Now you have to boot your Mac from the USB drive to get into macOS Recovery for Big Sur. Nevertheless, the procedure varies slightly depending on whether you use an Apple Silicon Mac or an Intel Mac.

Necessary: If you use an Intel Mac with an Apple T2 Security Chip, enable booting from external media using the instructions above before proceeding.

  • Intel Macs

1. Turn off your Mac.

2. Hold the Option key and turn it on to enter the boot selection screen.

3. Select the macOS Big Sur bootable USB and select Continue.

  • Apple Silicon Macs

1. Turn off your Mac.

2. While holding the Power button, turn it back on. Released when you see the Loading startup options message…

3. Select the macOS Big Sur bootable USB and select Continue.

Remove macOS Monterey

In macOS Recovery for Big Sur, you must use Disk Utility to erase your Mac’s internal storage data. If you haven’t already done so, this is your last chance to exit Recovery Mode and create a backup of your files.

1. Choose Disk Utility > Continue on the Restore macOS menu.

2. Select Macintosh HD on the sidebar and select Erase.

3. Keep the default name and format—Macintosh HD and APFS—intact.

4. Select Erase again to confirm. If you see the Erase Volume Group button, select it.

5. Select Done.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

6. Exit Disk Utility (choose Disk Utility > Exit Disk Utility on the menu bar). Your Mac will return to the Restore macOS menu.

Install macOS Big Sur

You can now install macOS Big Sur on your Mac.

1. Select Reinstall macOS Big Sur > Continue on the Restore macOS for Big Sur menu.

2. Select Continue on the macOS Big Sur installer.

3. Agree to the license terms and select Macintosh HD as the installation destination. Then, prefer to Continue and follow all the on-screen instructions to install the operating system.

Big data setup and data migration

After installing macOS Big Sur, your Mac may ask you to connect to the Internet so it can activate itself. Use a wired connection or select the WiFi icon at the top left of the screen to join a WiFi hotspot.

You will then see Setup Assistant. Select a country or region and work through the on-screen instructions to set up a new copy of macOS Big Sur on your Mac.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

In order to restore data from a Time Machine backup, choose the Startup disk or From a Mac Time Machine backup option.

How to return to MacOS Big Sur from macOS Monterey (Explained)

Or, you can restore your data once you’ve set up your Mac. To do that, open the Trackpad and choose Other > Migration Assistant.

The instructions above should have helped you successfully downgrade from macOS Monterey to Big Sur. If you want to upgrade to Monterey later, open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences > Software Update > Upgrade Now.

Final Thoughts

Above is how to downgrade from macOS Monterey to Macos big sur. Have you downgraded from macOS Monterey to Macos big sur? Is it ok? Did you use my method above?

Share your comments with us about your experience.

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