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Getting An Error Message Trying To Update Mac App Store Applications

by Graham Needham (BH) on 8th December 2020

With Apple's release of their new operating system macOS 11 Big Sur there are problems for users running older versions of macOS where they are unable to update their Apple Mac App Store applications (e.g. Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, iMovie) because they get an error message similar to "[app name] can't be installed on “[storage name]” because macOS version 10.15 or later is required." Here is a procedure to help you update your applications correctly with the latest version available for your version of macOS that you are running:

  1. Make a current backup/clone of your computer
  2. Open the App Store application and sign out (Store menu > Sign Out)
  3. Delete the offending applications from the Applications folder
  4. Restart your computer
  5. Make sure there are no additional versions/copies of the offending applications anywhere on any mounted storage volumes - if there are, unmount the storage devices or delete the application(s) and restart the computer again
  6. Open the App Store application and click "Sign In" (bottom left if you are using macOS 10.14 Mojave or macOS 10.15 Catalina)
  7. Click on your account icon in the bottom left (if you are using macOS 10.14 Mojave or macOS 10.15 Catalina) or the "Purchased" icon along the top (if you are using macOS 10.13 High Sierra or earlier) - this will show you your "purchased" list in the main window (or on the right in macOS 10.14 Mojave or macOS 10.15 Catalina)
  8. Locate the application(s) you want and install it/them - if you have done the above steps correctly there will be a cloud icon with a down arrow for the application(s) you want (not an install/update/open button). When you click on that cloud icon, you will get a message along the lines of "Download an older version of Pages? The current version requires OS X [sic] 10.15 or later, but you can download the last compatible version." > click the "Download" button
  9. The latest version compatible with the OS you are running will download and install

I know this procedure works because I have personally done this myself, multiple times, on my own Mac to get my applications updated (in these cases, a MacBook Pro 15" running macOS 10.14 Mojave).

There's also a separate issue when trying to update general Mac App Store applications on older versions of macOS, where users get an error message along the lines of "We could not complete your purchase. cancelled" with just an OK button. This is a separate issue that has appeared since October 2020 and the launch of macOS 11 Big Sur. There is no easy solution to this other than to keep trying - after a random number of attempts, the update will finally start to download and install. This is clearly an issue at Apple's (server) end and nothing can be done until they fix the issue. For now, just keep clicking that update button until it works.

Blog Post Author = Graham Needham (BH)
Blog Post Created On = 8th December 2020
Blog Post Last Revised = 9th December 2020 14:44
Blog Post URL =

This blog post is representative of the blog author's individual opinions and as such any opinions that may be expressed here may not necessarily reflect the views of everyone at MacStrategy or the holding company Burning Helix.

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