I have an iMac(Early 2009) running Leopard (10.5.8). Now I want to upgrade my OS to El Capitan (10.11).

The situation is this one:

my iMac version is listed under the upgradable devices

MacOSX 10.6.8 is required to be installed (due to Mac App Store introduction) on the iMac

Official solution (or what I undestood reading Apple website)

  • buy the DVD of Snow Leopard (10.6) from online Apple Store and install it on 10.5.8;
  • update the OS until 10.6.8;
  • use the App Store to download and install El Capitan.

Said that, after some search, I found this macworld article showing alternative methods to upgrade from 10.5.8 MacOSX version to a more recent one. This reading brought me to another solution:

Alternative solution

  • use a Mac of a friend of mine which runs El Capitan to download El Capitan from Mac App Store;
  • create a bootable usb stick from it;
  • use it to do a clean install on my iMac (erasing all disk content before choosing the HDD in which to install El Capitan)
  • configure my iMac creating my Apple ID


  1. Will solution 2 work?
  2. Is solution 2 legal?


The linked article hit my questions' topics but I did not deeply understand nor the configuration of the Apple ID on the fresh installed El Capitan nor the legal aspects of the solution.

  • I'm not a lawyer however my take on it is when OS X became a free upgrade it was dependent on having at least Mac OS X 10.6.8 or higher so IMO if you do not own a copy of Mac OS X 10.6 or higher then the legality is questionable and I'd say dishonest at the lease. That said, what your asking is doable. Note that when I say own a copy I actually means having paid for a license to use (Mac) OS X either by the purchase thereof ,e.g. a Mac OS X 10.6 DVD, or later version having come installed on your Mac. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 2:23
  • We posted within one minute of each other. Do you agree that if he calls the Apple store and asks to bring in his iMac and they say that's fine that they will install El Cap, that his other solution is OK? But if they say that he has to purchase snow leopard I will agree with you 100% Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


My understanding is that if you bring the Mac to an Apple Store they will install it for you. The S/L requirement is to access the store, not as a way to charge you $20. Stopping at a friends house is no different than going to the store.

Keep in mind, moving beyond Leopard, software compatibility may be an issue. I'd research that before making the jump .


I would also simply go to the Apple store (Genius Bar) where normally they install whatever you want. But I am surprised you could run El Capitan. I have a MacBook Pro (June 2010) running 10.7.5 and the Genius bar said I can only go to Josemite. Also, keep in mind that basically all previous versions to Office 2016 might bring you trouble. I intend to upgrade for that reason to 10.8 only, Mountain Lion.

  • 2
    Have a look at Mac Hardware Requirements under Upgrade to OS X El Capitan. Which in the case of the OP, iMac (Mid 2007 or newer) so he's covered and your system MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer). So you must not have been talking to a genius! :) Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 5:57
  • Yes, some sites say Office 2008 is OK on Yosemite and even El Capitan but other users stress there are indeed issues, especially in excel - and Word starting with Maverick. To be honest, all confusing so I don't want the risk to run into problems. Office 2016 has proved a near-disaster in compatibility with Word doc running well under Office 2008 and 2011. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 6:56
  • As for MacBook Pro June 2010, Apple Genius Bar in Beijing checked my laptop with the machine number/serial number and they said I could only go up to Yosemite... So, confusion for sure. But because of Office 2008 I might really stick to 10.8 to be on the safe side. I have other macs running Office 2016 and 2011... Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 6:59

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