Continuing the thread about whether it's worth downgrading the OS on an old MBA Late '10, I'd like to check the downgrade options.

I am not sure my daughter still has an original CD with the OS. I assume not. And she has not been using TimeMachine. So what she can actually do to install the original OS?

  • First thing to do is to ask your daughter if she still has the USB key that was shiped with the computer (since it has no optical drive). Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 10:29
  • I am sure she doesn't. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


The MacBook Air came pre-installed with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which was available with a physical installation media only.

Here is what I would do in your situation:

Parts Replacement (USB Key Installation Media):
Contact Apple and ask if they still replace the missing parts (costs will apply, but I do not know how much).

Order a Replacement Disc:
Ask, if they still sell replacement discs. The costs were reasonable the last time I heard (~$15-20).
NOTE: The MBA being a Late 2010 may require an installation media unique to its build. So a general-purpose replacement disc of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard may not work with it. Ask Apple specifically if it works with your daughter's model before you decide to buy it.

Create a USB Thumb Drive from a Replacement Disc:
Should the general-purpose disc work, knowing that the MBA does not have an optical drive, if you have a different Mac with an optical drive, you can create a USB drive from it by just cloning it over using Disk Utility.

Buying an Optical Drive to Use Disc:
If creating the USB thumb drive is not an option for you, you may want to look into buying an optical drive and use that with the disc (obviously only if the general-purpose disc is an option in the first place). The optical drive can be used for other things as well and even used with a potential new Mac computer lacking an optical drive. So, the costs of $79 for the drive would not be wasted for a single purpose.

  • Thank you very much! This is information I was looking for. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 11:19

Have you attempted to use the OSX recovery utility or tried to do an SMC reset?

An SMC reset may solve the issues that she's having but you've regretfully not told us about. SMC reset on a 2010 MBA is :-

  • Shut down the computer.

  • Plug in the MagSafe power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.

  • On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.

  • Release all the keys and the power button at the same time. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

    Note: The LED on the MagSafe power adapter may change states or temporarily turn off when you reset the SMC.

To enter recovery mode press cmd+r during boot.

  • I would not be sure if the MBA 2010 has the Cmd+R option as it was produced before Mid 2011. To use the internal Recovery HD, I would advise to press and hold down Alt at the startup chime, then select the Recovery HD from the options presented. Also, the question was about downgrading to the original OS. The internal Recovery HD will only allow you to reinstall the existing OS. For newer Macs the Internet Recovery (Cmd+Alt+R) can be used to install the original OS.
    – Phoenix
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 11:57

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