Do I need to buy Snow Leopard to upgrade to El Capitan?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by dylanlewis2000, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. dylanlewis2000 macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2009
    Hi All,

    I have been given a 2008 iMac. The OS it came with is 10.5 Leopard. This mac can run El Capitan but do I need to buy a Snow Leopard licence before I upgrade to El Capitan?

    I know that with the later Macs you can simply upgrade for free but not sure about the older operating systems.

    Help please!
  2. maverick28 macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2014
    You'll still have to buy SnowLeopard no lower than version 10.6.6 for its MacAppStore app to get El Capitan for free, because all Mac OS upgrades Lion onwards come via digital distribution (i.e.,"download") with no physical media of them available.
  3. dylanlewis2000 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2009

    Thanks for the reply,

    I have copies of El Cap and Yosemite as i have another mac which i have upgraded. My other mac is newer than this one and has had the 'free' upgrades. I was just wondering if the licensing now is totally free or whether there is a stipulation that you have to pay to upgrade to SL and from then on its free.
  4. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Owning the SL disk is the license, I suppose. There really isn't any license number involved with Snow Leopard.

    So the legal, ridiculous way for you to get to El Capitan is to install SL as discussed, update to 10.6.8 so that you'll get the App Store (application), "purchase" (for free) El Capitan, then upgrade that old SL installation to EC.

    Use the other Mac with the copy of EC on it to create a USB installer. Search for info on how including the Terminal command "createinstallmedia".
  5. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    If you have the installation drive for El Capitan, you should be able to plug it into the 2008 iMac and install the OS. You only need 10.6.6 to get the MAS so you can "buy" the upgrade to download on that Mac, but since you already "own" it, if you can build the installation drive you can do the upgrade without buying an additional OS for $$
  6. dylanlewis2000 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2009
    Legally, where do I stand with this. I may have a few more to build see. I have looked on Ebay and can see Snow Leopard with 5 licences for a reasonable price.
  7. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    A Snow Leopard DVD is technically just a single licence for one Mac computer. As long as the DVDs are legit, you buy one for each computer and the computers are Macs, then you are perfectly fine.
  8. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    If you use halloxes approach, you'll be perfectly fine legally, and it will cost you the least. And is likely also the easiest.
  9. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    No, BrianBaughn was correct. You need a ‘base’ licence in order to ‘purchase’ El Capitan legally. Apple only provides derivative licences on the App Store that presuppose an existing base licence for each computer. This can either be a copy of Snow Leopard or a pre-installed version of Snow Leopard or newer. Anything older does not fulfil this requirement.
  10. v1597psh macrumors regular


    Feb 4, 2014
    Just make a bootable El Capitan USB stick on another mac and straight away boot from it and install El Capitan. You don't have to buy anything else

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9 February 10, 2017