Although there is no official way to download OS X El Capitan from outside the Mac App Store [MAS], we have found a reliable workaround for those who are facing similar issues with the OS X upgrade.
Installing El Capitan
When you download OS X El Capitan using the Mac App Store, a raw package (.pkg) file is downloaded from the Apple server. This raw file is not installable on its own. While downloading the package, MAS processes and converts it into an executable (.app) file, which can then be installed on your Mac.
In this workaround, we’ll be downloading the raw package directly from the Apple server using a suitable download manager. This will accelerate the download speed, and reduce the risk of download error at the same time. We’ll then configure the system in such a way that the MAS downloads and installs the new version of OS X from the locally downloaded raw package, instead of the one available on the Apple server.
The end result is the same as you would get if you had downloaded OS X El Capitan directly from MAS. The only thing you have skipped here is the annoying download interruptions and slow download speeds.
Note: On Mac App Store, the estimated download time was around 15 hours on a 2 Mbps connection. Using a download manager like Folx, the setup package was downloaded within 5 hours on the same connection.
OS X El Capitan [Direct Download]
First, download the El Capitan package (.pkg) file from the Apple server using a suitable download manager.
El Capitan package URL: http://osxapps.itunes.apple.com/apple-assets-us-std-000001/Purple3/v4/74/d2/82/74d28291-9db9-7ae2-305d-9b8b3f5fd463/ftk3252456602304584541.pkg
#Update: Here, we have mentioned the URL of the package file for OS X 10.11. If the latest version of OS X El Capitan available on the Mac App Store is a different one, MAS will fetch it from a different location. Hence the workaround mentioned here will no longer work, unless you know the URL of the latest package file and create the directory structure on localhost based on the same.
Before downloading the package, ensure that it is the latest version of El Capitan released on the MAS. To find out the URL of the latest El Capitan package file, you can either check out the comments below or search on the Internet for it.
Once you have got the raw package (ftk3252456602304584541.pkg), you need to configure your Mac so that the MAS uses it as the source for downloading OS X El Capitan. For this, first you need to edit the hosts file and point the root domain of the download URL (osxapps.itunes.apple.com) to localhost (127.0.0.1). To modify the hosts file as required, follow the steps below:
#1 Open Terminal from the Launchpad or Applications list.
#2 Type “sudo nano /etc/hosts” and hit the return key. You’ll be asked for your password. Enter your admin password. The hosts file is now open in editable mode within the Terminal window.
#3 Add the following line to the end of the file: “127.0.0.1 osxapps.itunes.apple.com”.
#4 Press control + X (^X), then Y and hit return to save the file and return to Terminal prompt.
The root domain osxapps.itunes.apple.com has now been pointed to localhost IP of your computer.
Note: Sometimes, you might need to flush the DNS cache for the changes to take effect. To flush DNS cache, type “sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder” in the command line and hit return.
Next, you need to replicate the path of the source package on your computer in the same way as it is represented in the original URL. Only then, will MAS be able to download the package from localhost server.
To replicate the original download URL on localhost, you need to create the same directory structure on your computer within a particular folder, and then assign that folder as the root of the localhost server.
Note: OS X comes preinstalled with Python, which natively includes a SimpleHTTPServer by default. This server can turn any directory on your Mac into a web server directory (on localhost).
In this example, we will create a folder named “osxapps_local” on Desktop, and replicate the directory structure of the package URL under it. Follow the steps below to create the directory structure and then host “osxapps_local” as the root directory on localhost.
#1 Open Terminal from the Launchpad or Applications list.
#2 Type “cd Desktop” on the command line and hit return to enter the Desktop folder.
#3 Type “mkdir osxapps_local” and hit return to create the root directory of the same name on Desktop.
#4 Go to the newly created folder by typing “cd osxapps_local” and hitting return.
#5 To create the relative path inside the root folder, enter the following command: “sudo mkdir -p ./apple-assets-us-std-000001/Purple3/v4/74/d2/82/74d28291-9db9-7ae2-305d-9b8b3f5fd463/”. Provide the admin password when prompted.
#6 Copy the source package (ftk3252456602304584541.pkg) file you have downloaded earlier and paste it in the last folder of the directory tree created within the root folder. Click on Authenticate when prompted, and provide the system admin password.
#7 The Terminal prompt should be pointed to the root directory inside Desktop. Now, you need to host this folder on localhost. In order to do that, execute the following command in the Terminal prompt: “sudo python -m SimpleHTTPServer 80”. Provide the admin password and click on Allow in the subsequent message prompt. This will start the localhost server in the Terminal window. Do not close the terminal window till the process is over.
To check the status of the local server setup, enter the URL of the original package in your browser and check the download speed. It should be very high as it is downloading from the localhost server.
Now, launch the Mac App Store and install OS X El Capitan in the usual way. MAS will now download it from the local server at a high speed. Once downloaded, you may proceed with the installation by clicking on Continue when the setup launches.
Note: During the installation process, your Mac may request resources from the “osxapps.itunes.apple.com” domain. Thus, it is recommended to remove the entry from the hosts file before proceeding with the installation.
Is this method Genuine?
You might be wondering if this workaround to install OS X El Capitan is genuine enough. And to answer the question, it’s as genuine as the official method. Here, you’re downloading the same raw package that Mac App Store requests when it downloads OS X El Capitan. And you’re using MAS to convert the raw package into the executable app file. The only thing that changes here is the location of the raw file that Mac App Store downloads from (localhost instead of Apple server).
As for the build number, it is the latest version of El Capitan that was publicly released on September 30. Mac App Store downloads the update from a specific URL, and there is only one directory structure (with only one file in it) that you have replicated on the localhost server. If Mac App Store’s target URL did not match the relative path on localhost, it would not be able to download the package from localhost. After El Capitan has been installed, you may verify its build number (15A284) by clicking on “About This Mac” from the Apple Menu.
Additionally, we are also providing the MD5 and SHA1 hash values for the original disk image file (InstallESD.dmg) found within the processed OS X El Capitan app package. If you wish to download the raw package (ftk3252456602304584541.pkg) from alternate sources, such as torrents, you can verify the authenticity of the file using its MD5 or SHA1 (also provided below).
El Capitan – Single Download Multiple Installations
If you or any of your trusted peers have already downloaded the raw package on any other device, you can simply copy the file to your own Mac and upgrade to El Capitan using the above method. Moreover, if you have multiple Macs registered with the same Apple ID, you can directly use the processed app package created by Mac App Store on a single device, to install El Capitan on other devices.
Once MAS has finished downloading the setup, just go to the Applications folder and keep a backup of the “Install OS X El Capitan.app” file. To install El Capitan on other Macs registered with the same Apple ID, copy the file to the Applications folder of that computer and double click it to run the setup. You may also create a bootable USB installer for OS X El Capitan from the installer app package.
Direct link for 10.11.5
for MacOS 10.11.5, there is a secondary file (.pfpkg) needed.
There are now 2 files for the OS, you will need to create 2 separate folder for both the files.
So, now that you know how to get the direct link, from now on, you can generate the direct links for all the future releases.
Do you find this workaround useful? Let us know of your opinion in the comments below.