Get a newer iMac to use Snow Leopard?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by B-Eugen, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. B-Eugen macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2014
    Is it possible to do this? I'm still lucky (YES!!! Lucky!!) enough to be using Snow Leopard. I still have a ton of stuff I need Rosetta for and some of the stuff I have doesn't seem to like the newer OS versions. Snow Leopard just works!

    However, my system is getting old and I wondered if there were any tricks or patches out there that could be applied to a Snow Leopard install that would allow me to get a newer system but stick with Snow Leopard.

    Can this be done?
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Not really it just hasn't been updated to run on the latest hardware especially things like retina screens etc.

    If you swap out the hard drive for a solid state drive and max out the ram it'll run faster than new.

    You will have to consider updating your software etc at some point though that iMac won't last forever and snow leopard is not so secure these days.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    No, because the old OS does not have the proper kexts/device drivers needed to run on the newer hardware. The only way you can possibly make this work is by running Snow Leopard in a VM, but natively a new Mac will never be able to run Snow Leopard.
  4. ^^BIGMac macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2009
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    It -CAN- be done.

    What you need is a virtual machine app such as VMWare Fusion or Parallels.

    Then, buy a copy of "Snow Leopard Server" (the word, "Server" is VERY IMPORTANT), and you can run that version of SL within a "virtual machine". (the ordinary version of SL -won't run-)

    You can buy Snow Leopard Server for $20 or so direct from Apple.

    When you call Apple you MUST volunteer the proper order number:

    Otherwise, the person on the other end of the line will probably sell you the wrong item.

    Don't be intimidated by the "server" aspects -- they can be turned off and then SLS will run the same as ordinary SL.

    Do this, and you can install and run your old apps that require Rosetta on a brand-new Mac.
  6. ^^BIGMac macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2009
    Oh I stand corrected.

    But, life is way too short! ;)
  7. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    I've done this successfully, but the results can be sketchy. It wasn't done deliberately but by accident prior to a newer OS release. Here's what happened:

    1. Prior to upgrading the OS, I think it was probably going from Panther to Tiger, I did a clone of the Panther volume in case I needed it to restore from. I kept this handy for several years.
    2. When the time came to get a newer system (I think I was going from an iBook G3 to iBook G4) which had Leopard installed on it, I attached the old FireWire backup drive with Panther because I had to transfer some stuff to the new system.
    3. For kicks, I decided to boot off the Panther disk even though the documentation said it couldn't happen. Guess what? It did. It booted it right up like it was designed for that system.
    I didn't really thoroughly test the Panther system, but everything seemed to work after using it for an hour or so. I suppose if you did something similar with your Snow Leopard system it might work, but I can't guarantee it. I would assume that on the absolute newest systems, especially those with retina displays it probably wouldn't work, but if you're looking at used units then one that comes originally with something like Lion or Mountain Lion may be capable of running the Snow Leopard disk as is. You would need to clone the Snow Leopard drive off to another drive prior using the old system, then connect it to the "new" system and see if it boots. It might work, but no guarantees.

    Another thing you can do is get off the AppStore and for any older units you may be looking at as potential candidates, click on the "Software" tab and it will tell you what the earliest OS release that a system can use is. For Snow Leopard, that's Mid 2011 iMac.

    Finally you can do what the others have suggested and use something like VMWare...but performance will take a hit.

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