If I buy a regular retail Snow Leopard disc (i.e. the £25 version), can I use it to upgrade a Mac from Tiger (10.4)?

This answer on the Apple Store’s Q&A site suggests it’ll work, but Apple seem to imply that you need the (significantly more expensive) Mac Box Set (“the Mac Box Set is the best way to upgrade your Mac experience, especially if you're still using Mac OS X Tiger.”).

  • 1
    Make sure you have a Mac that is actually supported by SnowLeopard. Iirc, only Intel-Macs are supported.
    – Heiko Rupp
    Feb 21, 2011 at 19:07
  • @Heiko — ah yes, good point. It is an Intel Mac thankfully, so we’re good there. Feb 21, 2011 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


Apple wants you to buy the Box Set in order to upgrade from Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 to Snow Leopard. Technically, you the Snow Leopard retail package will upgrade intel based Macs running Mac OS X Tiger 10.4, however it is against the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA).

The Box Set includes additional software that typically comes with a new Mac (and some that doesn't) and it is recommended by Apple to 'upgrade your Mac experience' because it is more like buying a new Mac than just upgrading the operating system.

To hear it straight from Apple, here are the answers from Alan Eyzaguire, director of software product marketing at Apple Europe to this question.

"We just think that Apple customers could really benefit from having those. They're great software."

"it's great when people get the full experience"

"if you have Snow Leopard it's great to have the latest iWork and iLife"

"we wanted to make that [upgrade] as attractive as possible"

"you get it almost for free"

"it's a steal!"

"Technically, yes, it would upgrade a Tiger install, but in the licensing, no." (citation)

  • No - You need the BoxSet to upgrade from Tiger the simple upgrade is for Leopard only - the link you give to Snow Leopard says that
    – mmmmmm
    Feb 21, 2011 at 21:11
  • The question doesn't specify technically or according to the licensing terms. I'll clarify the answer.
    – g .
    Feb 21, 2011 at 21:53
  • Back when this was a relevant question, I told people to just buy snow leopard. There are no serial numbers or activation or anything like that in these OSes. The installers just work. After Snow Leopard, they made all the OSes free anyway.
    – l008com
    Oct 25, 2018 at 12:35

My suggestion is not to upgrade this way. Back up your data manually, and do a manual restoration after reformatting your hard-drive, and doing a clean install of Snow Leopard. As a tech, I've seen these migrations go sideways more times than I care to admit.

  • Sure — I made a bootable backup before the upgrade. It’s for a friend’s machine though, so I don’t think I’ll be forcing them through a manual restoration. Feb 22, 2011 at 1:42
  • Cool. Just throwing it out there. The problems tend to manifest themselves as odd behaviour, usually quite a while after the migration gets done. Always a pain.
    – Harv
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:38
  • As a tech since 2003, I can tell you that this is terrible advice. It will waste a ton of your time, introduce countless new bugs, and theres is very little if anything to gain. Especially with these older OSes and their "Archive and install" option. As long as you aren't having hardware hard drive problems or volume structure issues (run a disk repair on your boot drive first), it is very unlikely you'll have any problems... i said 7 years later.
    – l008com
    Oct 25, 2018 at 12:34

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