My dad recently "gifted" me a very old iMac (device model: A1311) running software version Mac OS X 10.6.8, better known as Snow Leopard. Before repurposing it for God knows what, he asked that I wipe the computer. No problem, right? After all, this is very easy to do on more modern versions of MacOS. Since Snow Leopard was the last major release to not come with a recovery partition, the options are Internet Recovery or to boot off the Snow Leopard DVD, which I just happen to have. I tried to boot into recovery mode over and over and the iMac just spits out the disc on boot (throws me right to the login screen). Eventually, it gave me something different but altogether less helpful: a blank white screen. Nothing material changed to cause such a dramatic difference at boot. No new hardware; it didn't get moved or dropped, nothing.

So this is where I am at now: a blank white screen. There's no indication that anything is wrong with the hard drive (no blinking folder with a question mark, no sad Mac, no clicking sound) but then again, it isn't doing anything to indicate that anything is going well. A PRAM reset is possible (three chimes) but upon release I still have a white screen. DVD is still getting spit out after 10 seconds or so after boot. Single user mode won't work either. Booting from disc (Command + C) also yields nothing.

At this point it's more a me vs. the computer situation but I was wondering if any of you fine, smart people had any ideas for how to defeat this boss. I'll admit being slightly rusty with legacy OS X so maybe there's something I've just forgotten that is a quick fix. Either way, thanks for reading.

  • 1
    If memory serves me correct Snow Leopard may have had two discs. Check the labeling that you have the right one (Disc-1 or Install or some such). If you have another Mac you can check the disc(s) to verify they are readable. Also I believe that the option key will allow you to select a boot device. What does that show? Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 23:19
  • Does the iMac boot at all, in its existing state?
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


According to everymac.com, the model number A1311 covers the 21.5-inch iMacs given in the table below.

Date Pre-Installed OS X Maximum macOS Internet Recovery Capable Standard RAM
Late 2009 10.6.1 (10A2155) 10.13.6 No 4 GB
Mid-2010 10.6.3 (10D2322a) 10.13.6 Requires Firmware Update 4 GB
Mid-2011 10.6.6 (10J4026) 10.13.6 Requires Firmware Update 4 GB
Late 2011 10.7.2 (11C40) 10.13.6 Yes 2 GB

A few comments:

  • Only the first three can run OS X 10.6.8. So, your Mac cannot be a Late 2011 model.
  • If you cannot boot to Internet Recovery, then either your Mac is not capable or has not had the firmware upgrade.
  • None of Macs can boot from the original Snow Leopard 10.6 DVD. This is a single dual layer (DL) DVD and is shown below.

snow leopard dvd

You could create a Lion or newer compatible OS X/macOS USB flash drive installer, boot from the flash drive, then wipe the Mac. See the question How can I download an older version of OS X/macOS?

Does the Mac currently boot to Snow Leopard 10.6.8? Do you have any other machines running OS X/macOS or Windows that you could use to make a flash drive?

Since the newest macOS available for your Mac is High Sierra (which is fairly old) and a Windows install would require a purchase, you might consider installing a Linux such as Ubuntu. Your Mac should meet the recommended system requirements. Perhaps a bootable USB Live Ubuntu flash drive could be used to wipe the internal drive.

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