You excitedly installed OS X Lion to get at all those new features – Launchpad, Mission Control and iCloud– but after the initial buzz you have to return to reality and do your accounts on Quicken 2007 or run Office 2004. Except, of course, they don’t work any more. In fact, no program with PowerPC code will run on Lion.
Even if all your software is brand new, you may still miss the simple way that Snow Leopard did things. It was Apple’s fastest, most streamlined version of OS X, after all. Who needs all those bells and whistles? If this sounds like you, we’ve got a solution. Dual booting – a machine with both Lion and Snow Leopard installed. Sounds like a pain? Don’t worry, we outline how to do it, step by step.
Step 1: New Mac issues
The simplest way to install Snow Leopard is the way you would expect – on a partition on your hard drive. But, there’s a big exception to that. Try installing Snow Leopard on a Mac that came with Lion already installed and you’ll have some problems. We’ll deal with those rather frustrating cases in a moment.
Step 2: Get a disc
First, reinstall Snow Leopard on a Mac that you’ve upgraded to Lion. You’ll need a retail disc with Snow Leopard on it – or the OS X 10.6 CD that shipped with your Mac. If you don’t have one, you can still find a copy of the operating system at the UK Apple store online for £26 (www.apple.com/ukstore).
Step 3: Back up your files
You’re about to add a second operating system to your Mac. Things can and possibly may go wrong, so back up valuable files first and make sure you have discs and serial numbers to restore any software. Of course, anything you’ve downloaded from the Mac App Store can easily be reinstalled.
Step 4: Create a partition
To dual boot Lion and Snow Leopard, you’ll need to make a second partition on your drive. Time to launch Disk Utility from the Applications > Utilities folder. Select the top level of your hard disk and click the + button to add a new partition. We recommend naming this new partition Snow Leopard.
Step 5: Resize and apply
Disk Utility allows you to resize the new partition by dragging the handle up or down. Alternatively, you can enter a numeric value in megabytes. Snow Leopard requires a minimum of 5GB of free space, but we’d advise that you give it 30GB or more if possible. When you’re happy, click Apply.
Step 6: Install Snow Leopard
Finally, we are at the bit you’re reading the tutorial for. Insert your Snow Leopard disc and reboot your computer. Hold down C key after the chime to boot from the disc and begin installation. The first thing that will pop up is the language selection screen. Select English.
Step 7: Handy partition
Next, you’ll be prompted to install the OS. Here’s where the wisdom of naming a partition ‘Snow Leopard’ reveals itself. Make absolutely sure that is the partition you choose when going forward with the installation, or you’ll lose everything. Installation will take about 45 minutes to an hour.
Step 8: Update Snow Leopard
When the process has finished you should boot be able to boot into Snow Leopard. The first thing to do is get online and find the combo update that will take Snow Leopard from the version on your disc to 10.6.8. You can grab it from support.apple.com/kb/DL1399 or run Software Update.
Step 9: Start it up
Now you’ve got a Mac with both Lion and Snow Leopard. To choose the default OS to boot into, you’ll need to open up System Preferences and launch Start Disk. Your partitions will appear as separate volumes. Select the volume you want to use, then click Restart to boot into that version of OS X.
Step 10: Choose your weapon
Want a quicker way to switch between Lion and Snow Leopard once installed? Hold down the Option key after the Mac’s startup chime. You’ll get a list of boot options that’ll enable you to choose which partition to load the OS from. Remember that trick. It’s going to come in handy again in a moment.
Step 11: New Mac blues
If you have a new Mac that shipped with Lion, you’ll find that the procedure listed above won’t work for you. To dual boot Lion and Snow Leopard you’re going to need that retail disc and a second Mac – or a friend with a second Mac who’ll lend you one – and a FireWire cable.
Step 12: Start in target mode
Follow the partitioning steps above to create a new partition on the target Mac called Snow Leopard, then shut down the machine. Restart it in FireWire target mode by holding down the T key as the machine boots. You can also select to boot in target mode from System Preferences > Startup Disk.
Step 13: A connection is made
Connect the second Mac to the target machine with the FireWire cable. Insert the Snow Leopard install disc in the second machine and switch it on, holding down C on the keyboard to boot from the install disc. Follow the instructions and choose the Snow Leopard partition on the target Mac.
Step 14: Second life
The installation should proceed as normal – restarting when necessary. When finished, before attempting to disconnect the two Macs, you’ll need to boot the second machine from the first’s Snow Leopard partition. This should happen automatically. If not, restart the first in target mode again.
Step 15: Boot and patch
Boot the second machine and hold down the Option key. One of the boot options that comes up should be the Snow Leopard partition on the target machine. Choose that as the startup disc. When Snow Leopard has booted, update it to OS X 10.6.8 using the combo update or with Software Update.
Bonus tip: Virtual Lion
Apple’s licensing rules have prevented users from running virtual versions of OS X, unless you chose the more expensive server version. This was the case until Lion came along. You can now run a virtual version of Lion on a Snow Leopard installation. It’s supported in VMware’s Fusion 4.1.1, for example. Sadly, if you want to do it the other way around – run a virtual version of Snow Leopard in Lion – you’re out of luck unless you own the server edition.
An error in VMware Fusion 4.1 briefly enabled users to virtulise Leopard or Snow Leopard, but this was soon patched.