What is fundamental difference between OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) Install Disc that come with New MacBooks to one that comes in Retail Box-Pack (either Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard OS only, or Mac Box Set)?

Reason behind asking this particular question is, I have a MacBook (Late 2009) which was running Snow Leopard. I have another Mac, 15" MacBook Pro(Mid 2010).

My White MacBook got corrupted, and not booting up at all. I need to re-install Snow Leopard on it, but I have lost OS X Install Disc that came with it.

I have Snow Leopard Install Disc that came with MacBook Pro, but I don't know if this particular disc is optimized for MacBook Pro only, or can work with any Mac desktop or notebook.

Generally MacBook Pro have 4 GBs of Memory, while White MacBook have 2 GB. May be, install disc that came with MacBook Pro is optimized to run on 4 GB, and not on other Macs.

3 Answers 3


Retail discs are usually early releases (10.6.0 or 10.6.3) lacking driver support for newer hardware models.

Discs bundled with specific hardware models have full driver support and are usully more recent versions (10.6.5 or 10.6.6) but are also restricted to running on just that model or release series. They also contain install packages for any bundled applications such as iLife or iWork.

In most cases the retail disc should work and you should immediately apply the latest Combo update to add any missing drivers or feature support. If the retail disc gives you any errors you'll need the bundled disc.

  • 1
    Most retail disks are kept up to date overtime so far, espc. for new machine support during OS release cycles.
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 12:14
  • 1
    Actually only two retail disc versions exist at this time: 10.6.0 (RTM) and 10.6.3. Apple has not released any further retail updates as new machine support is already covered by the version of Mac OS X already bundled with the machine. The most recent bundled version that I have come across is 10.6.6 on the Mac OS X USB stick bundled with the latest MacBook Airs. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 12:49
  • I didn't know what the actual versions they had in stock were, but usually they keep retail versions on the shelves that will work in all currently shipping hardware, or at least they used to.
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 17:50

Gray discs are hardware limited. That is, designed to be installed on only one piece of hardware. Black discs are able to be installed on any hardware.


The only reason Apple came out with the additional Snow Leopard retail disc was to update the (bundled) install disc from version 10.5.6 or earlier. No worries.. even if you don't have a Snow Leopard disc just do what the others have said and go to the 'Apple' (upper left corner) and select 'Software Update' and you will be updated to the latest version of Snow Leopard.

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