My iMac has some problems, and to repair it I thought I'd do as it says in the title. Currently, I'm running (a broken) Snow Leopard, and ideally I'd make a backup (with Time Machine) before I erase the disk and reinstall Snow Leopard.

  1. Is this possible? What happens when I boot from a CD? Do I just reach my desktop? If not, would I be able to make a backup (obviously without later restoring it, just some files one by one) from there?
  2. Can I do this with the CD with Snow Leopard coming in a Mac Box Set? (I couldn't find the apple store page for the Mac Box Set anymore, just the system requirements.)
  3. I never did something like this before. All thoughts welcome.

1 Answer 1


Booting from an install media such as a Snow Leopard install DVD will not boot to your desktop. Instead, it will boot to the OS installed on the disc and whilst this is OS X, there's no Finder for you to move files around.

However, the disc does come with Terminal and you can use it to copy your files to somewhere else, another disk, etc. There are numerous tools that you can use in Terminal to copy files, but for individual files/folders as mentioned in your question you can simply cd /path/to/original /path/to/location to copy them.

Then, using the disc, reinstall Snow Leopard and copy your files back once booted back (using the now-available Finder).

  • I have Finder access now, but can't open applications, which I need to make a Time Machine backup (so I'd rather use that now instead of Terminal). I'm now filling some USB sticks. Thank you for your answer.
    – 11684
    Apr 10, 2014 at 12:42

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