How to overcome OS X 10.11 El Capitan not installing

InstallElCapitanAs with prior versions of OS X, the new version 10.11 “El Capitan” is available as a free purchase from the App Store, and should then download and run to allow you to upgrade your system. If all goes well, you should see the OS X installation window that instructs you to begin the upgrade process, but there may be instances where this does not appear, or does not work when you attempt the install.

First, the OS X installer should run automatically, but if not then you can try running it manually:

  1. Go to the Applications folder
  2. Open the program called “Install OS X El Capitan”
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

If this program is missing or will not run, then move it to the trash and empty the trash, followed by re-downloading it from the App Store.

An alternative approach is to create a dedicated installation drive from the El Capitan installer, and use that to install the upgrade. For this, you will need a spare external drive (USB drive, or hard drive) that is at least 8GB in size, and then perform the following steps:

  1. Attach the drive to your Mac
  2. Use Disk Utility to format it to HFS+ with a GUID partition scheme, naming it INSTALLER
  3. Open the OS X Terminal and run the following command (copy and paste all 5 lines):
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capita\\
dia --volume /Volumes/INSTALLER --applic\
ationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Ca\ --nointeraction

Press Enter to run the pasted command, and supply your password when prompted (it will not show when typed). Note that if you get any errors, be sure your USB drive is formatted and named “INSTALLER” so the command will properly target it. You will also need to have first downloaded the OS X El Capitan installer from the App Store, and have this present in your Applications folder.

The Terminal may take a while to complete this step, but when done you can reboot your Mac and hold the Option key to show the boot menu, and then select the El Capitan installation drive you just created to run the installer and upgrade your Mac’s internal hard drive.

If the procedure still fails with an error, then hopefully you have a full system backup ready, which you can restore to your Mac using the option to restore from a Time Machine backup in the OS X Recovery partition, or whatever cloning software you use. When done, attempt the above procedures to try again.

10 thoughts on “How to overcome OS X 10.11 El Capitan not installing

  1. hydrovacing

    Anyone know know another way to download EL Captain. I have had on of my Mac’s trying to download it since it came out. It is now at this moment at 4.81 GB.

  2. b9bot

    If you have an Apple Store nearby you could use there free WIFI to down load it. Or if that doesn’t work make a Genius appointment and they can help you install it at the bar. Make sure you have a backup of your data FIRST! Apple is not responsible for data. Be prepared to sit for a while as the install could take up to an hour to do depending how fast your Mac is. They could also test your Mac to see if you have a hardware issue.

  3. hydrovacing

    No Apple store with in a four drive from Grande Prairie. Have a MacBook Pro downloading it. Will transfer over to Macbook 2014 and MacBook 2010.

    1. hydrovacing

      Have tried two different locations in GP. Both are as slow as a tortoise. I’m beginning to think Telus is throttling the signal in Alberta.

      1. Wgunder1

        I live in Grand Prairie, you have a Mac Store in North Dallas , and in Plano Willowbend Shopping center both are under 1 hour drive. Also you have Hardin Computers in Arlington been servicing Macs since the days of Performa, and Quadra Beige Macs. Which I will be taking mine in soon, I can’t even get the Mac too boot after El captain install. I swear this is the worst OS release I have ever witnessed.

        1. apachetara

          They are from Grande Prairie ALBERTA (with an E) not Grand Prairie Texas. Haha. Very helpful otherwise though. The closest Apple Store to Grande Prairie AB is a five hour drive.

  4. Chris Williams

    If you’re still having problems:

    A. Set your clock
    1 From the Utilities menu, pick Terminal
    2 Get the current date from another machine in the Terminal with the command:
    date “+%m%d%H%M%Y.%S”
    3 Type exit (or ⌘-Q) to exit Terminal.
    An improperly set clock can result in an installation that can’t be verified.

    B. Re-download and reinstall from Recovery (⌘-R at startup)

    C. Set aside non-Apple RAM
    Even if your RAM has been working flawlessly and passes the Apple Hardware Test, replacing it with the memory that originally came with your Mac can cause an installation that has otherwise balked to proceed normally.

  5. arob

    I have tried 2x on a 2009 Mac Mini. 1st as upgrade via /Applications, then from USB (via Recovery). Even tried re-install from recovery.

    It seems fine until final few minutes. It goes into a rolling reboot.

    I have restored from TM 2x.

    Next up, fresh install and migrate apps, settings, files from TM…

    Might have to try the non-Apple RAM trick. But, that would mean 2GB instead of 8…

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      You can install with 2GB of RAM just fine, and then swap the 2GB modules with 8GB ones when finished. However, if you do so and the problem still continues, then you may have bad RAM. Alternatively you can try running Apple’s hardware tests to crudely test your RAM.

  6. Belal Chowdhury

    I face trouble in creating el capitan USB then i found this link to buy the USB,
    They provide USB 16 GB with VERY EASY installation manual by which people like me can install El Capitan perfectly.
    Link is this:

    That make my life easy bcoz I save my time to engage more on my work.

Comments are closed.