Install Snow Leopard on 20" iMac without optical drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by fk_qrf, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. fk_qrf macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2016
    I upgraded from Snow Leopard to Mavericks to Yosemite on 20" iMac.
    The device is functioning unbearably slow.
    I have the snow leopard DVD that came with the computer. But the optical drive is not working on it anymore.
    The optical drive is not available as the product now is obsolete.
    I attempted to install from recovery partition, it did not work as there seems no recovery options when I boot to that window using Ctrl+R.
    Living in an area where I cannot arrange for another apple computer or laptop so I could install OS via another apple drive.
    The only option left is to copy the contents of DVD to a USB and install from it.
    However, not sure how I can achieve that. Need help!.
  2. CoastalOR macrumors 68020


    Jan 19, 2015
    Oregon, USA
    Since you mentioned copying the Snow Leopard DVD to a USB (I'm not sure how you do this without a DVD drive) then you might be able to use the method discussed in this article:
  3. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    You can always buy an external dvd drive that connects by USB.

    If you want to be extra shady, you can just return it when you're done and you didn't pay anything for it.
  4. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Some Macs that shipped with optical drives won't install an OS through an external.
    Had a similar issue with trying to BootCamp a 2011 iMac after removing the superdrive.

    I do think you can install Snow Leopard via USB but it has been so long I'm not 100% positive on it.
    For as little time as it takes I would definitely try creating a SnowLeo boot disk and giving it a try, it is probably the least expensive and easier of the options.... if you have a dmg of SnowLeopard to start with.

    Give this site a read and see if it helps to answer anything.
  5. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    if you only have a windows computer with a working dvd,try using a program called "TransMac" (you can use trial for 15 days i think) to make a bootable usb snowleopard install...

    (remember sl is no longer supported so open to security issues)
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Older macs do not have Recovery partitions. That was added to OS X when Apple started shipping Macs without optical drives (I think back in 2012 or something).

    @CoastalOR link should do the trick, or as mentioned, pick up an inexpensive optical drive on Amazon. Its really short money these days and may help you more then you think if you're keeping this computer.
  7. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Internet Recovery came with Lion back in 2010. So all 2010 and newer iMacs, MacBook Airs and Pros can use it. It was part of an EFI update that was pushed out for 2010+ models.
  8. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    my 2007 imac runs great with el capitan.

    much better than 10.6 it came with.

    maybe try use app store and upgrade to 10.11

    My imac only has 2GB ram and still ok. I will upgrade to 4GB soon.

    CD drive is available on ebay for:
    imac a1311, a1312, a1225, a1224 and mac mini a1283

    I'm guessing you have an a1224 like mine?
  9. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    I think maybe you need to figure out why your iMac is running so slow. It is likely not the OS.

    Can you download the free diagnostic tool EtreCheck from here: then run the app, save the report and upload it back here.

    Also open Disk Utility, click on MacIntosh HD in the left window and run Verify Disk to see if it give your disk a clean bill of health. Also click on the drive itself (just above Macintosh HD) and look to see what the S.M.A.R.T. status is in the bottom right. Finally, run Repair Permission.

    Don't worry about what Repair Permissions says, but report back here the results from the S.M.A.R.T. status and Verify Disk.
  10. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    Re-installing OS 10.8.6 won't necessarily solve your problem. I strongly suggest you follow the steps in my last post before doing anything else.
  11. deviant macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2007
    just download it and create the usb disk and be done with it. but snow leo is really Old, doesn't even have proper iCloud support. i'd put an SSD in it and just install el capitan. works great.

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