Upgrading to Snow Leopard

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Normally upgrading operating systems isn’t a task people find fun or exciting. For that reason, among others as well as fear of change, I still know many folks running Tiger, and in some extremes, OS 9.


With Leopard, those waiting to upgrade their operating system had a bit more cushion. In most cases, Tiger was still being supported, and people who were delaying the leap to Leopard could still get by, albeit a bit more slowly. The user interface changes Leopard employed when compared to Tiger, were a bit more drastic in comparison to Apple’s most recent OS release.

Snow Leopard, builds directly upon OS X’s progressive interface changes that Apple made with Leopard. So upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard shouldn’t confuse even the most novice mac user. The single, snazziest new “feature” is that Exposé found some intelligence. Instead of opening all of your windows in a single row, Exposé now understands a few more levels of what windows belong to what application. Additionally, some tools in simple navigation and control of your open windows have been added. All in all, it’s arguably the flashiest new addition to Apple’s entire OS release, but not even close to the most important.

Rather than focus on new features, and snazzy new UI additions, Apple focused on the core architecture of the entire operating system. They spent their time refining and rewriting millions of lines of code, and shrinking the entire footprint down while saving users up to 14GB of hard disk space (Walt Mossberg). While a hard concept to grasp, users are installing Snow Leopard (myself included) and free-ing up space on their hard drives. Personally, I freed up around 6GB of space on a 13″ unibody Macbook Pro.


The upgrade process from Leopard to Snow Leopard is the most painless Apple OS installation process I can ever recall. I can only fully endorse two methods of installing/upgrading to Snow Leopard. Both methods consist of a Firewire connected external hard drive, and creating bootable clones.

1. Buy or prepare an external hard drive.
2. Connect the drive to your computer via Firewire 400/800
3. Download Carbon Copy Cloner, it’s free, but you should really donate.
4. Backup your computer’s entire hard drive onto the external hard drive.
5. Restart your computer while holding the option key, your mac will ask you if you want to boot from your regular hard drive, or from your bootable clone (external hard drive) – select the external hard drive, and make sure everything looks good.
6. Insert your Snow Leopard disc and shut down your computer.
7. Once your computer is shut-down, eject your external hard drive, and turn your computer on.
8. Run the Snow Leopard installer

Notes: When you run the Snow Leopard installer, you can select to Customize your installation. This gives you the option to “Erase and Install” your hard drive. If you’re upgrading from any other Operating System besides Leopard, you should choose this option after first making sure your machine is compatible with Snow Leopard.

If you’re upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard, I believe that Apple has made this installation process so painlessly easy, that a simple install directly over your current version of Leopard is absolutely perfect.

If you’re on the fence with upgrading to Snow Leopard, I would encourage you to take the plunge. It’s well worth the noticeable speed and stability increases. If you’re still running Tiger, or something pre-Tiger, shame on you… It’s time to upgrade, and Steve would be furious if he knew. Apple has poured countless hours of development resources and buckets of innovation into Leopard and Snow Leopard, and you ignore it all?!?!?!

Upgrade… NOW.

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