My friend has a problem getting Snow Leopard to run because the disk is completely full. I suggested getting into command line mode (CMD+S on boot) and delete some things, but it didn't work (nothing happens) - is it because of full disk as well or because the OS is older? What can he do?


You could try booting from the Snow Leopard installation media and free up space from there. It's been a little while since I've used a pre-Lion system, but IIRC, the main drive should be mounted and available from the installation environment. Just don't actually run the installation!

If your friend is having problems booting, it's probably worth checking the disk with Disk Utility as well from the installation environment before writing to it.

  • thanx... so there should be command line available somewhere when you enter the installation process? – davidhq Jul 9 '13 at 16:14
  • Terminal should be available on the Utilities menu, yes. – zigg Jul 9 '13 at 16:42
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    The easiest place to quickly reclaim some space should be in the directory /private/var/vm. There is probably a "sleepimage" file which is several gigabytes in size and can be deleted safely. If you are booted off the DVD then you can delete any other files in /private/var/vm (on the actual boot drive) too. – TJ Luoma Jul 9 '13 at 20:12
  • Thank you both.. will tell you how it went once my friend tries it. I suggested he deletes the Dropbox folder but stuff in /private/var/vm would be even better. – davidhq Jul 9 '13 at 20:23
  • Fixed! I couldn't get him delete /private/var/vm over the phone but we could find Dropbox and delete it... now he booted into the system and is cleaning up. Thank you! – davidhq Jul 10 '13 at 15:32

You can start by turning on the computer and holding down the T key on the keyboard to get into Target Disk Mode, then connect via FireWire or Thunderbolt cable to another Mac which then mounts the hard drive on the desktop to enable you delete or backup files. You can free up space this way, which should then allow you to boot up normally.

  • this one will be harder as friend doesn't have this cable :/ – davidhq Jul 9 '13 at 16:15
  • They sell the cables in shops – Maximus Jul 11 '13 at 13:51
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    yes, but he lives in the forest – davidhq Jul 11 '13 at 15:46

When you use target disc mode, do you need to use a Mac with a similar OS..? I have an older iMac I could use but it's running 10.6.8 compared to 10.11 on one side of the partition and 10.14 on the side with that's full. It's that side I want to clean out so it'll boot again. cheers!

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