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  1. #1

    RavingMac's Avatar
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    "What OS Disk Do I Need?" A Brief Overview
    We get an enormous number of posts asking these, or similar questions:

    1) I lost or never received the OS Disks for my Mac and now I need to reinstall the OS. What OS can I use?

    2) I want to upgrade my Mac, what is the latest OS version I can run?

    3) My Mac came with OS X 10.2, how can I upgrade to 10.7 Lion?

    4) I just bought a new Mac. Can I use the OS Disk to upgrade my old Mac?

    Rather than attempt to directly answer these and all the different variations of the above we see, I want to provide some basic background on the subject.

    OS X Release History and Requirements Table


    The important things to note from this table are:
    1) Tiger is the FIRST OS version to support Intel CPUs
    2) Leopard is the LAST OS version to support PowerPC CPUs (G3. G4 & G5)
    3) Only Snow Leopard and Lion are currently available for new retail purchase (as of this original posting date 1/1/2012)
    4) Lion (OS X 10.7) is ONLY available on USB FlashDrive or as an Electronic Download through the Mac APP Store. Note: the Mac APP Store requires Snow Leopard OS X 10.6.8 as a minimum


    RETAIL vs MACHINE SPECIFIC OS DISKS

    These are Machine Specific Disks




    These are Retail Disks


    As the name implies, Machine Specific Disks (the gray to silver gray disks) will only install and run on the Mac model they originally shipped with.

    Retail Disks, on the other hand, will install and run on any Mac that meets the minimum system requirements.

    PLEASE DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY BUYING MACHINE SPECIFIC OS DISKS ON eBAY!
    They will almost certainly not work (unless you get extremely lucky).

    As you can see from the photo above, Retail Disks (and their boxes) are either Black or White, not Gray.

    I may add more to this post later, if warranted. Hopefully this will help.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  2. #2

    GameGuru's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 05, 2009
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    Dover
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    20" iMac Early 2008
    This is great information for newbies and very clearly laid out. I could have used this chart a couple months ago. Thanks!
    MINE - 20" 2008 iMac 2.4GHz | 4GB Crucial DDR2 800MHz | 240GB Sandisk SSD Plus | Radeon HD 2400 XT | 8x DL SuperDrive | OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)
    WIFE'S - 2007 Mac Mini 2GHz | 4GB DDR2 667MHz | 120GB Patriot Pyro SSD | Intel GMA 950 | Pioneer DVR-K06 | OS X 10.7.5 (Lion)

  3. #3

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    May 20, 2008
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    2011 13" MBP 2.3ghz, 8gig ram, OS 10.8.5
    Razormac...you must have had some spare time today!!! Great job...I especially like the photos of all the OS install disks!

    - Nick

    p.s. The tough part is getting folks asking the questions to read these threads first! But certainly a GREAT thread to direct folks to.
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  4. #4

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
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    Specs:
    2012 13" MBP (2.5 i5, 8GB)
    Well done. A fine post highlighting the differences between machine specific and retail discs.
    Important Links: Community Guidelines : Use the reputation system if you've been helped.
    M-F Blog :: Write for the blog
    Writing a Quality Post

  5. #5

    RavingMac's Avatar
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    4GB Mac Mini 2012, 13" MBA, 15" MacBook Pro OSX 10.7, 32 GB iPhone 3GS, iPad2 64gb 3G
    Thanks! I appreciate the comments.

    And, yes, Nick. I did have some free time on my hands.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  6. #6

    circa_bc's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 10, 2012
    Posts
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    Macbook Pro (A1278) 2.53 ghz w/ 4gig Ram, 320 gig HD
    Mac Mini (A1283) 2.52 ghz / w 4 gig ram, 120 gig SSD, LaCie 2TB D2-Quad (x2)

    Mac Pro (A1289) 2x2.26 Quad-Core Xeon w/12gig ram, 1TB (x2)

  7. #7

    toMACsh's Avatar
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    Jul 30, 2009
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    Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,163
    Specs:
    Mac Mini (Late 2014) 2.6GHz Intel Core i5 Memory: 8GB 1600MHz DDR3
    And it's not "pinned" yet, because... ?

  8. #8

    harryb2448's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 28, 2007
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    Nambucca Heads Australia
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    Specs:
    Imac 27" Retina 5K, 512GB flash memory, 3.3GHz, 16GB memory, macOS Sierra beta.
    +1 rep and it is a must to be pinned!
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  9. #9

    Slydude's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 15, 2009
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    North Louisiana, USA
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    2.8 GHz MacBook Pro 10.11, 8 GB mem, iPhone 6+
    Quote Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
    +1 rep and it is a must to be pinned!
    !00% agreement there.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  10. #10


    Member Since
    Jan 22, 2010
    Location
    Victoria, BC
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    Specs:
    Mid-2012 MBP (16GB, 1TB HD), Monoprice 24-inch second monitor, iPhone 5s 32GB, iPad Air 2 64GB
    Somebody pin this incredibly useful thread!!

  11. #11


    Member Since
    Mar 09, 2011
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    mbp 15 2009, mbp 13 2010
    Great job. Your post should avoid a lot of head scratching. Keep up the good work.

  12. #12


    Member Since
    Jan 24, 2012
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    Smile
    thankyou!thankyou!!thankYOU!!!

  13. #13

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    Jan 04, 2005
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    28,930
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    iMac 2010 27" QuadI7 OSX10.11, iMac 2008 OSX10.11, MBP Late2011OSX10.11 , iPad Air, iPhone 3GS
    Funny I missed this thread! VERY good job Razor! Very helpful.

  14. #14


    Member Since
    Jan 24, 2012
    Posts
    4
    Talking leopard compatability
    cheers, razormac...
    i'll give it a whirl. Apple say the no longer stock the leopard 10.5 and said to get it from a third party stokist any idea where i can purchase it cheaply...as its still expensive on amazon?

  15. #15

    RavingMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quimley38 View Post
    cheers, razormac...
    i'll give it a whirl. Apple say the no longer stock the leopard 10.5 and said to get it from a third party stokist any idea where i can purchase it cheaply...as its still expensive on amazon?
    Unfortunately it isn't cheap anywhere. eBay may be your cheapest unless you get lucky and you'll probably have to pay around $100 USD for a retail disk
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

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