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The Mac App Store is probably the easier option, but there can still be difficulties depending on which version of macOS your machine is running, and if you were hoping to grab older installation files that can be tricky - we show you how here getting older versions of macOS. It goes without saying that you will need an internet connection to download the software and you may need it while installing the version of macOS if it needs to check for firmware or confirm your iCloud credentials. As we said already, how you get the installation files will depend on the version of macOS you are running currently and the version you want the installer for.
But stop before clicking to install - you need to copy this installation file before installing on your Mac if you want to have access to it to make the boostable installer. Instructions for that below. If you are already running Catalina, Software Update won't show you the software as available to download, but you can still get the installation files from the Mac App Store.
How To Make A Bootable macOS Installer On An External Drive - Macworld UK
Again, don't click on install as you need the installation file for the next stage of this tutorial We go into more details about getting and installing the Catalina beta here. We have the code you'll need for installing the Catalina beta via an external drive below. Luckily it can still be done, and we explain how to get old versions of macOS here.
However, if you aren't running one of those newer versions of macOS - or you have access to a Mac that is - follow these steps to download the installation files of an older macOS. Here's how to get the macOS installation files for if you are after an older version of the macOS, and you aren't currently running Catalina, Mojave or High Sierra. Now you have the installation files, we can move onto the process of making the bootable installer. You can also run the Mac operating system directly from an external drive rather than your built-in startup disk, this is handy if you are testing new versions of the Mac OS.
The process is different to the one described above though, and we cover it here: Read about How to run macOS on an external hard drive here. Note that older versions of macOS used "applicationpath" while newer ones don't - if you use the command you will get an error we have the code for the all versions of macOS and Mac OS X below. The createinstallmedia command will be slightly different depending on which version of macOS you are wanting to use.