Help with Mac mini updates

Robert Pollard

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2019
26
4
Virginia
Hello,

I have a late 2012 Mac Mini.The thing was so slow that I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled mountain lion. How can I get the latest supported OS on this thing. I see Mojave in the App Store but it won’t install it.
 

CoastalOR

macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2015
2,512
916
Oregon, USA
I have a late 2012 Mac Mini.The thing was so slow that I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled mountain lion. How can I get the latest supported OS on this thing. I see Mojave in the App Store but it won’t install it.
Exactly what happens when you try to download & install Mojave?
How much free disk space do you have?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,655
2,379
Delaware
I use the 2012 mini (I have two)
Latest supported version is Catalina (10.15), but certainly Mojave is good, too.
I would suggest that if you still have a hard drive, the upgrade to Mojave will NOT result in more speed.
Consider replacing the old hard drive with an SSD. That will absolutely be the best upgrade that you can do, plus 8GB RAM, or more.

Download the Mojave installer. Don't let it install, just quit that installer when it is done with the download.
Use that installer to create an external USB installer.
You can get steps on how to do that, and also good links to download the Mojave installer on this page.

(I do notice that page does tell you that you have to be booted to Sierra or later, or last version of El Capitan.
So, you may want to upgrade to El Capitan first, then continue on with upgrading to Mojave.
I suggest that you should have a full backup of where you are now with Mountain Lion, so if things go south for you, you can always erase the drive and start over with what works.
Did I say that you should replace the hard drive with an SSD? Even if you choose to not upgrade at all, the SSD will give you back more speed than you would ever have from the old hard drive!

Final point: Mojave will convert the format on your hard drive to APFS file system, which your old Mountain Lion system won't even see. It will also be a poor choice with the hard drive, as the APFS format is not comfortable at all on a spinning hard drive.
 

Robert Pollard

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2019
26
4
Virginia
Exactly what happens when you try to download & install Mojave?
How much free disk space do you have?
I misspoke and will edit the original post. I see Catalina in the App Store but nothing else. You need to have at least El Cap to install Catalina. I just found where I can download and install El Cap so I’m doing that now. Form there I should be ok. I really just need access to iTunes so I can resume all my music.
How does the latest OS run on Mac Mini?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,655
2,379
Delaware
Do you have an SSD installed?
Do you have 8GB, or more, RAM installed?
If you prefer iTunes, then you do have to stop at Mojave.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,384
2,634
Hello,

I have a late 2012 Mac Mini.The thing was so slow that I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled mountain lion. How can I get the latest supported OS on this thing. I see Mojave in the App Store but it won’t install it.
If you put an SSD in it, that will solve your performance issues. Catalina is supported on the 2012 mini, but both Mojave and Catalina are slow on hard disks.
 

CoastalOR

macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2015
2,512
916
Oregon, USA
I misspoke and will edit the original post. I see Catalina in the App Store but nothing else. You need to have at least El Cap to install Catalina. I just found where I can download and install El Cap so I’m doing that now. Form there I should be ok. I really just need access to iTunes so I can resume all my music.
How does the latest OS run on Mac Mini?
Here is a link with instructions and a link to Mojave (Step 4). I would recommend Mojave since it is older & stabler.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210190
Catalina is pretty new and could use a few more updates, IMO.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,660
5,772
For a 2012 Mini, I'd suggest 10.12 "Low Sierra".
Runs well, doesn't crash, and it's the last OS to be "native" in HFS+.
My 2012 will run it 'til it won't run no' mo'...
 

Robert Pollard

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2019
26
4
Virginia
For a 2012 Mini, I'd suggest 10.12 "Low Sierra".
Runs well, doesn't crash, and it's the last OS to be "native" in HFS+.
My 2012 will run it 'til it won't run no' mo'...
I managed to install El Cap on the mini and I’ll be staying there. Does Low Sierra run better?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,660
5,772
Low Sierra and El Cap are pretty close to "being equals".
Both run well.
Low Sierra is just "one more version later".

If El Cap is doing fine, I'd just use it and not worry about Low Sierra unless an app upgrade requires it.
 
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Robert Pollard

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2019
26
4
Virginia
Low Sierra and El Cap are pretty close to "being equals".
Both run well.
Low Sierra is just "one more version later".

If El Cap is doing fine, I'd just use it and not worry about Low Sierra unless an app upgrade requires it.
I’ll have to see if Disney + will work on safari in El Cap.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,384
2,634
I’ll have to see if Disney + will work on safari in El Cap.
The newer OSes work just fine on the 2012 Mini, as long as you have an SSD in the Mini. If you don't have an SSD, upgrading to one will improve your experience with the computer regardless of which version you use.
 
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Robert Pollard

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2019
26
4
Virginia
The newer OSes work just fine on the 2012 Mini, as long as you have an SSD in the Mini. If you don't have an SSD, upgrading to one will improve your experience with the computer regardless of which version you use.
I do not have an SSD. I’m not sure it’s worth the envoys snf effort to upgrade.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,655
2,379
Delaware
It's not a particularly challenging job to replace the internal HDD with an SSD, and is worth the "struggle"
However, I also understand that opening the mini can have some risk if you don't have similar experience upgrading or repairing tech.
Another choice is to use an external SSD, through a USB 3.0 drive enclosure. Much less hassle, with a noticeable speedup in return.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,660
5,772
OP wrote:
"I do not have an SSD. I’m not sure it’s worth the envoys snf effort to upgrade."

It IS "worth the effort".
You can get a 256gb SSD cheap these days.
512gb not that much, either.

Get a "bare" 2.5" drive. I'd suggest Crucial or Sandisk.
Then, get one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-Tool-free-Enclosure-Optimized-EC-UASP/dp/B00OJ3UJ2S/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1U9HWN2DNI55I&keywords=sabrent+usb3+enclosure&qid=1575646434&sprefix=sabrent+USB3+en,aps,142&sr=8-1

Drop the drive into the enclosure (no tools needed).
Initialize it (erase it) with disk utility.
Choose Mac OS extended with journaling enabled, GUID partition format.

Then, download CarbonCopyCloner from here:
http://www.bombich.com/download.html
CCC is FREE to download and use for 30 days.

Now you can "selectively clone" the contents of the hard drive to the SSD.
If everything won't fit, you can go to the "some files" option and "de-select" stuff to be left behind on the internal drive.
These things (best to leave large libraries of movies, photos and music on the internal drive) will still work fine when you boot from an external SSD.

When done, you can boot from the SSD by setting it to be the boot volume in the startup disk preference pane.

Doing all this is AS EASY AS IT GETS.
And you WILL like the difference when it's done.
 
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