The next big version of macOS is here. Apple released macOS Big Sur for all users. And as in previous years, Apple’s servers will process a large number of download requests, at least in the first few days.
Of course, the experience of updating the macOS system has improved a lot over time. Even if you have fewer problems with the download when downloading the Big Sur update from System Preferences or the Mac App Store, e.g. For example, slow download speeds, inability to resume the download, interrupted download, frequent interruptions, etc., it is still likely.
As a result, many users would still be looking for direct download links for Big Sur, especially faster downloads via download managers, as well as resume support in case it is interrupted.
This article will show you how to download macOS Big Sur directly from the Apple Server instead of through MAS / System Preferences using your favorite web browser or a dedicated download manager.
Note: This post is specific to macOS Big Sur direct download from Apple servers. For more macOS and OS X versions, see our previous articles in this series.
Download and install macOS Big Sur without MAS / System Preferences
When you download a new system update on macOS, some package files are downloaded to your computer and then processed by the Software Update utility to convert them to an .app executable.
In this workaround, these raw packages are downloaded directly from the Apple server using a web browser or an appropriate download manager. We then configure the computer so that Software Update processes the package files by retrieving them from a local directory on your Mac instead of downloading them again from the Apple server.
macOS Big Sur Direct download
Step 1: Download the following files from the URLs given below.
macOS Big Sur 11.1 (20C69) / December 14, 2020 (updated)
- Download url for the macOS Big Sur InstallAssistant.pkg file:
- Download url for the macOS Big Sur InstallAssistant.pkg.integrityDataV1 file:
** Update: In previous versions of macOS, multiple .pkg files had to be downloaded. The following steps were required to create the Installer.app file. As pointed out by Alejandro Heredia, Big Sur only has to download the InstallAssistant.pkg File, run it and complete the package installation wizard.
Once you follow the steps you should find this Install macOS Big Sur.app File in the / Applications directory that you can then run to install Big Sur on your Mac. If this doesn’t work for you, you can try the old method given below.
We compared the hashes of the Install macOS Big Sur.app files created by both methods and can confirm that the two files are exactly the same.
Step 2: Configure your Mac so that Software Update searches for the macOS packages locally and not from the Apple server.
To do this, you need to edit the Hosts file on the Mac to point the root domain of the download URLs (“swcdn.apple.com”) to localhost (“127.0.0.1”). The following instructions guide you through modifying the hosts file as needed.
- Start Terminal on your Mac from the Launchpad or the application list.
- Enter the following command: “sudo nano / etc / hosts”
- Enter the system password when prompted. The hosts file is now open in editable mode in the terminal window.
- Add the following line to the end of the file: “127.0.0.1 swcdn.apple.com”.
- Press Control + X (^ X), then Y.and press Enter to save the file and return to the terminal’s prompt.
From now on, every request sent by the Mac for the respective root domain (swcdn.apple.com) will be forwarded to the local host.
Note: Sometimes you may need to flush the DNS cache for the changes to take effect. In this case, use the command “sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder” to clear the DNS cache.
Step 3: Place the package files in a specific relative path from the localhost root directory to mimic the structure of their respective download URLs.
In this example we will create a folder named “macos_local” on the Desktopand replicate the directory structure of the package urls under the same. Once the relative path has been created, we configure the localhost server to point to the “macos_local” directory on the desktop. Then we use the SimpleHTTP server integrated in macOS to convert the folder into a web server directory.
The following instructions will walk you through the setup process.
- Open Terminal from the Launchpad or Applications list.
- Kind “CD desktop”At the command line and press Enter to bring up the desktop folder.
- Kind “mkdir macos_local”And press Enter to create the root directory of the same name on the desktop.
- Go to the newly created folder by clicking “cd macos_localAnd meet back.
- Enter the following command to create the relative path for the .pkg files in the macos_local folder (provide the administrator password when requested):
“sudo mkdir -p ./content/downloads/00/55/001-86606-A_9SF1TL01U7/5duug9lar1gypwunjfl96dza0upa854qgg/”
- Place the downloaded package files in their respective relative locations (according to their URLs) in the macos_local folder on the desktop. Click on Authenticate When prompted, enter the system administrator password.
- With macos_local as the current working directory in the terminal, execute the following command: “sudo python -m SimpleHTTPServer 80”. Enter the administrator password and click Allow in the subsequent prompt.
The current directory (macos_local) is now hosted on the localhost. Leave the terminal window open so the localhost server will run until the process is complete.
To check the setup, click on one of the package urls (.pkg) in your browser and check the download speed when downloading the package.
You may notice a very high speed download (much faster than your internet connection speed). This is because the file is downloaded through the local host. Your internet bandwidth is not being used.
Step 4: Download macOS Big Sur from the Mac App Store or System Preferences.
Since you have redirected the package URLs locally, Software Update / MAS retrieves the package files from the local host and starts the installation file (“.app”) as soon as the packages have been processed.
Note: Your Mac may be requesting additional resources from theswcdn.apple.comDomain during the installation of macOS Big Sur. It is therefore recommended to remove the entry from the hosts file previously attached before proceeding with the installation.
Is the workaround real?
In this workaround, we will download the necessary resources from the Apple server and use the official software update channel to install the OS update. So yeah, it’s as real as the official method.
The only factor we’re changing here is the location from which Software Update / MAS gets the packages. If you download the macOS package files from third-party sources, you can verify that they are the original by comparing the MD5 and SHA1 hashes.
bootable installer for macOS Big Sur (macOS Big Sur DMG)
Now that you have the “Install macOS Big Sur.appYou can use the installer to update multiple Macs to the latest version using the same file. However, if you want to do a fresh install, you will need to create a bootable installer for Big Sur.
The bootable image for Big Sur (SharedSupport.dmg) is located in the “.app” file. To get that SharedSupport.dmg (aka. InstallESD.dmg) file, right click on “Install macOS Big Sur.app“, choose “Show package contentsOption and navigate to “Content / SharedSupport /“Portfolio.
Alternatively, the bootable installation program for macOS Big Sur can be downloaded directly from the “.app” file with “createinstallmediaCommand as suggested by Apple.
If this workaround helped you get macOS Big Sur easily or saved your internet bandwidth on single or multiple installs, let us know in the comments below.