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I currently have a 2010 15" MacBook Pro installed with OS X Lion and wish to downgrade it to Snow Leopard.

However when trying to boot into the Snow Leopard installer for a clean install, it hangs at the grey apple screen (and no spinner appears).

The DVD drive in the MacBook is faulty so I imaged the Snow Leopard DVD onto a USB drive using Disk Utility, which boots but hangs.

I have tried going into the Recovery HD and wiping the HD and trying again but this has not helped.

Is there any other option to installing Snow Leopard on this MacBook which previously had Lion? Thank You.

Actions Taken

  • Reset PRAM and NVRAM
  • Wiped Internal Hard Drive
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2 Answers 2

up vote 0 down vote accepted

There is a huge list of things which can be wrong here:

  1. It sounds like you don't have the original install DVDs that came with the MBP (MacBook Pro). If you have an external DVD drive available to you then I would suggest running the Apple Hardware Test version 3A171 that came on the original install discs with that model.

    • You managed to clone the version of Snow Leopard DVD that you have to a USB drive. I assume you didn't use the faulty DVD drive to do this?

    • Also you need a retail version of Snow Leopard (barring the original install discs), if you have the packaging, then you could see if it has the green dot that says 10.6.3 on the front of the box. You cannot use the original release of the retail Snow Leopard install DVD as your computer probably does not support even a minor version of the OS older than it shipped with (which was 10.6.3). If you're not sure, when you boot up from the install USB check on the "About This Mac..." menu item under the apple, or put in the machine you used to clone the drive and navigate to it and look at the read me files.

    • Also, note that a DVD that came with another computer, unless it's the same model as yours, will not work to install. So, if you took the install DVD from even the first release cycle of a Mid 2010 Mac Mini that had 10.6.3 on it, it still will not install on your machine.

  2. Just this week I opened up a machine and it a) had a bad Hard Disk Drive, b) had a dirty/faulty Optical Disc Drive (aka Superdrive, dvd/cd drive, etc.) and that was possibly ejecting discs from a stuck trackpad clicker c) would not boot up from a USB Installer of OS X Lion until I removed the faulty Hard Disk Drive!

    So, you should use the "Disk Utility" Program under the "Utilities…" menu in the installer to run the "Verify Disk" action on the internal Hard Disk of the MacBook Pro (aka MBP). Because, it just might be that the Hard Disk you are trying to reinstall on is bad!

  3. You might also have a bad, corrupted USB drive, I would use whatever other machine is at your disposal and run verify disk on the USB drive as well. If none of the other things seem to work then I would even erase and Reformat the USB drive as HFS+, then clone the Snow Leopard install DVD back onto it.

    Also, I have had a scratched Install DVD that of course wouldn't work, this can translate to files not coming over to your USB drive properly.

  4. If this is a backup copy of the Snow Leopard DVD there is a much greater chance of something going wrong with DVD. If memory serves correct, you actually need a DVD-R DL, known as a "Dual Layer" disc to make a backup copy of Snow Leopard. It can't be a DVD+R DL (notice the "+" symbol") known as a "Double Layer" disc. I wouldn't burn it at higher than 4x, and use a known good burner, maybe run a laser lens cleaner on it first if possible.

Note: If you're still having trouble after checking these things out, please let us know what tools you have at your disposal to continue working on this, for example, another computer, an external disc drive, a bare drive dock, tools/ability/confidence to open up the machine and work inside, etc.)

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I've shortened your answer somewhat to make it easier to read. Feel free to revert back or extend it again if you think I did too much editing. –  patrix Nov 29 '12 at 18:19
Beautiful, thank you patrix! –  NOTjust -- user4304 Nov 29 '12 at 18:27
Just added one tidbit back I think is relevant. Thanks again, and for cleaning up the question based on my assumptions. –  NOTjust -- user4304 Nov 29 '12 at 18:37

boot from an external dvd drive and try to install os on your macbook. If there is a problem with the dvd drive this will fix the problem.

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How does reinstalling OS X fix a faulty DVD drive? –  patrix May 27 '13 at 4:13
It would be great if you could explain further how this solution works. –  Alex May 27 '13 at 6:47

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