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Upgrading Your Personal MAC From Leopard To Snow Leopard

This document explains how to upgrade a Mac from Leopard (10.5.x) to Snow Leopard (10.6.x) and keep your profile, data, and applications. This is not the only way to upgrade your Mac, but it is the method recommended by ITS. This document is intended to help end users upgrade an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air.

Please note: You will need your own copy of Mac OS X Snow Leopard to perform this upgrade. Smith does not provide a copy of the operating system for personal use.


The safest, most-reliable way to upgrade your computer to Snow Leopard is to back up to an external drive, insert the Snow Leopard DVD installer, and follow the installation wizard.

If you don’t already own a firewire external hard drive, now may be a good time to buy one. You will use it to back up your data and can continue using it with applications like Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner.

You need an external hard drive that is at least as big as your computer’s internal hard drive. Consider getting a larger drive so that your backup application doesn't fill up your external drive. Note: Time Machine deletes older backup images to make room for newer ones.

First, be sure that your computer meets the minimum requirements for upgrading:

  • Intel Processor; NO Power PC processor

  • 2gb of memory; 4gb preferred

  • DVD drive for installation; an external drive is needed for MacBook Airs

Second, check the compatibility of your software:

  • Click here to check for a list of applications and software known to not work with Snow Leopard.

  • Make sure that new printer (or other peripheral) drivers are available for the printer you are using.

Third, back up your system.

Before any upgrade, it is essential to perform a backup.

ITS recommends using either Time Machine (which is included with OS 10.5 Leopard) or Carbon Copy Cloner to create a full backup of your system. These programs make a complete image, or clone, of your Mac on a bootable external hard drive. If something should go wrong with the upgrade, these images can be used to completely restore your hard drive.

  • Time Machine is included with Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard). Directions for using Time Machine to create a backup can be found here.

  • You can download the latest version of Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich Software at no cost. Directions for using Carbon Copy Cloner to create a backup can be found here.


Fourth, install Snow Leopard:

  1. Make sure you have backed up your Mac using Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner or another backup program. It is essential to back up your data before you upgrade to a new OS.

  2. Insert the Snow Leopard install Disk.

  3. Double-click the Mac OS X installer icon to launch the Mac installer application.

  4. Select Continue to begin the installation.

  5. Accept the end user license agreement and then select the hard drive you wish to install to and then click Install.

  6. For customized install options, click the Customize button. This is where you can install additional applications like Rosetta or QuickTime. You can also choose to remove some items from the installation. Use the check boxes to make your selections. After making your selection, click OK to return to the main installer window.

  7. Click Install to continue the installation process. Confirm you're ready to begin the installation by clicking Install again.

  8. You will be prompted for an administrator username and password, enter your credentials and then click OK.

  9. All applications will automatically close. You will be prompted to save any open files before the installation begins.

  10. At the end of the installation, your computer will automatically restart. When your computer restarts, you will have been upgraded to the Snow Leopard operating system. All your files, applications, user accounts, and settings will still be in place and available for use.

  11. If you are prompted to install any updates for your Mac operating system, install the updates required to complete your installation.

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Copyright © 2014 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Stoddard Hall 11  |  Northampton, MA 01063
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 |  Last updated January 10, 2013

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