I have a unique plan:

I have a 2009 Mac Mini mid-2009 with 10.6 OS X. I just got the 2011 Mac Mini with 10.7. But I am planning to use the hard drive from the 2009 Mac Mini with 10.6 OS X as an external USB drive for my new 2011 Mac Mini.

Question: Can I boot from the external USB with 10.6 from my new 2011 Mac Mini? (Using the Option key when turn on the computer, etc.) So, that I can boot into either 10.6 (on the external USB drive) or 10.7 (the internal drive) from my mini 2011?

  • 1
    Why not put the old hard drive in a FireWire enclosure? It will boot up faster and your Mac will run much faster when booted from it. USB is too slow for regular use as a boot drive. – user9290 Sep 30 '11 at 18:50

Intel Macs can boot to a USB volume, but in this case it will not work. The reason is because the new Mid 2011 macs ship with 10.7, as you mentioned. Macs ship with a minimum supported OS, and will not boot or allow installation of any OS prior to that. Therefore, a Mac that shipped with 10.7 will not boot to a 10.6 install. You'll probably be able to see in when holding option at startup, but if you select it it will likely show an Apple logo and hang there.

  • It worked! I was surprise that it works almost flawlessly. – user523234 Aug 1 '11 at 4:33
  • Glad to hear that! Did the mini ship with Lion, or Snow Leopard? – Gauzy Aug 1 '11 at 4:39
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    @Gauzy Since Leopard most of the hardware can use older versions of the OS as long as the hardware changes aren't too significant. We do it often at work to downgrade newer machines. – BinaryMisfit Sep 30 '11 at 13:58

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