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Downgrading from Lion to Snow Leopard on the latest Mac hardware #

Booting a new MacBook Pro (Late 2011) from a retail 10.6.3 disc resulted in a black screen and a repeating 3 beep pattern. This is due to missing Sandy Bridge drivers. Apple will ship a 10.6.6 (iMac) or 10.6.7 (MacBook Pro) installer disc* upon request which includes the necessary drivers to boot the latest models.

As I could not wait for the disc to arrive, here is the process I followed to downgrade a new MacBook Pro (Late 2011) from Lion to Snow Leopard (see notes below for a faster method):
  1. Install 10.6.3 to Firewire drive connected to white MacBook (13-inch Late 2007)
  2. Boot white MacBook from Firewire drive with 10.6.3 and update to 10.6.8
  3. Boot new MacBook Pro from Firewire drive running 10.6.8
  4. Clone Firewire drive to internal SSD with SuperDuper! (Carbon Copy Cloner is another excellent choice)
  5. Boot MacBook Pro from SSD - success!

Here is an abbreviated version of Apple's Mac OS X versions (builds) for computers showing only the latest models:

Latest modelIntroducedOS originally includedOS included later
iMac (Mid 2011)May 201110.6.610.6.7,10.7
Mac Mini (Mid 2011)Jul 201110.7 
Mac Pro (Mid 2010)Aug 201010.6.410.7
MacBook Pro (Late 2011)Oct 201110.7.2 
MacBook Air (Mid 2011)Jul 201110.7 

See also Finding your Mac OS X version and build information.

Notes & Updates:

/mac | Nov 24, 2011


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