Recently, my sister picked up an Early-2009 MacBook at a Flea Market. Everything worked fine, but it had belonged to a school, and it had DeepFreeze installed on it, and it really bothered her. She got her hands on a Snow-Leopard Installation Disk, and tried to reinstall OS X. When she put the disk in and held down C, it booted up in Snow-Leopard, but it said "this OS X Cannot Be Installed On This Computer", and proceeded to try to go to TimeMachine. So this is where it gets interesting. She read somewhere to ignore any messages that pop up, and she went ahead and in the Disk Utility, she deleted the "Macintosh HD", so there is no longer an OS on the drive.

I am a PC guy, and I have no idea what to do now. Is there any way to get the Snow-Leopard OS X disk to work on an Early-2009 MacBook, or will I have to torrent a Leopard Image and go through the process of putting it on a proper DVD?


2 Answers 2


Leopard (10.5) came out in 2007, Snow Leopard (10.6) was in 2009. Most of the time when this error occurs, it's because the hardware didn't exist when the installation media was created, so it doesn't know how to install. Typically, the hardware contains hardware for which the installation media doesn't contain proper drivers. More importantly, though, Leopard and Snow Leopard are out-of-support.

The early 2009 MacBooks will support the latest version of OS X, Yosemite (10.10). To ensure you're running a supported OS, I would install OS X 10.10. If you or her were to take this laptop into an Apple Store, they can assist with installing Yosemite.


Though the Early-2009 MacBook runs Snow Leopard perfectly well, it's obviously not on the list of allowed Macs on this installer DVD.

If you receive an error “OS X Cannot Be Installed On This Machine” under those circumstances, this is due to using a non-retail version of OS X meaning it was part of a restore suite that came with another Mac model. Although the disc contains the full retail version of OS X, there is a machine verification string that takes place during startup which excludes all Mac models except the model(s) the disc(s) came with.

Here or there are lengthy and time-consuming guides how to modify a non-retail DVD to allow installation on all capable Macs. You need another Mac though or at least a VM running Snow Leopard or later to accomplish that.

The other options are buying a retail Snow Leopard, asking nicely in an Apple Store to install Snow Leopard (I don't know if they still support that) or indeed torrenting some retail Snow Leopard DVD.

P.S. If you want to install Leopard choose at least Leopard 10.5.6 - that was the preinstalled system the Mac originally came with.

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