New Drive Set Up & Time Machine Guide (Macs from 2010 and Earlier)

So you've found the correct parts on our website and your order has been delivered. You've viewed the installation videos on your machine's page (select your Mac to see these) fitted the new drive and now you are wondering how to setup the new drive for use. If your old drive was working (albeit slow or full) then you may want to "clone" your old system to the new drive - we have a guide for that here.

Mac revisions released in 2010 and earlier do not have the ability to restore from the internet, which was introduced on later machines - we have a guide for these Macs here.

Technically this isn't true of most 2010 Macs (all except the Mac Pro) which were upgraded with Lion to be able to access Internet Recovery. However reliability is questionable in our experience, and while it is definitely worth trying, we advise being prepared for it not to work.

The procedure for restoring these older machines is more involved and can be difficult. There are also restrictions in the version of the operating system that can be installed and run on older machines. Exact information on OS support can be found on our website by selecting your Mac (using the serial number and other tools) but an overview of 10.13 and 10.11 compatible Macs is below. If your Mac is not listed, then your machine is below the age of machines that we generally see these days. There is a list of links to available operating systems at the end of this article. Also we may be able to install an OS for you to a drive we supply. However if your old drive is fully functional, we normally advise going the route of cloning the old drive to the new one - we have a guide for that here.

  • MacBook Pro 2010 - Maximum OS 10.13 (High Sierra).
  • MacBook Pro 2009/Late 2008 - Maximum OS 10.11 (El Capitan).
  • MacBook Air 2010 - Maximum OS 10.13 (High Sierra).
  • MacBook Air 2008/2009 - Maximum OS 10.11 (El Capitan).
  • iMacs Late 2009 / 2010 - Maximum OS 10.13 (High Sierra).
  • iMacs (Aluminium) 2007 / 2008 / Early 2009 - Maximum OS 10.11 (El Capitan).
  • Mac Mini 2010 - Maximum OS 10.13 (High Sierra).
  • Mac Mini 2009 - Maximum OS 10.11 (El Capitan).
  • Mac Pro 2010 - Maximum OS 10.13 (High Sierra) or 10.14 (Mojave) if upgraded with Metal compatible graphics card.
  • Mac Pro 2009 - Maximum OS 10.11 (El Capitan), however can be firmware upgraded to duplicate the 2010 model.
  • Mac Pro 2008 - Maximum OS 10.11 (El Capitan).

As with everything IT there are multiple ways to reach the same goal. If you have a currently working drive, cloning is likely the best way to go. If not, then the main options are creating an external USB installer, and installing from original 10.6 system disks and upgrading. If these methods do not work for you, we may be able to install an OS for you onto a drive prior to shipping or have you send the drive in for us to install onto it. There is a labour charge for this service - please contact us.

Creating a USB Installer

Please refer to Apple's own guide for instructions and download links. To boot from the USB installer, turn the Mac off and, with the device connected hold down the Option (Alt) key and turn the machine on. When you see an item called "Mac OS X Installer" select this and press the arrow underneath.

However one issue you may run into when installing early operating systems, is that the installer fails with a "No packages eligible for install" error. This is caused by an out of date security certificate. You may be able to resolve this as follows:

  1. With your install media connected, restart the machine. But hold down the ALT key on the keyboard.
  2. You will see an item called "Mac OS X Installer" select this and press the arrow underneath.
  3. This will re-boot into the installer again (which just failed).
  4. When it boots, go to the Utilities menu and choose "Terminal".
  5. Enter the following command (without quotes): "date 0418171516", followed by the return key.
  6. Now go to the Terminal menu and choose quit Terminal.
  7. Now click the install now button and allow the installer to finish.

Installing from the Original Apple DVD Media and Upgrading to the Desired OS

If you still have your DVD disk for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, then you can use this method instead. Also, well done! You are one of the few people who have kept their installation disks! This part of the guide will show you how to prepare the new drive for use and install Snow Leopard. Printed on the DVD will be a Mac OS Version number, this will correspond to the version it will install. This needs to be some version of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. If your Mac was sold with an earlier version of Mac OS X, you would have purchased a Snow Leopard disk at some point, since it is a required step before upgrading to anything further. It is the Snow Leopard disk that you need to start this process.

Boot the Mac From the 10.6 Snow Leopard DVD

  1. Turn on the machine and insert the DVD into the optical drive. Give it a minute or two then power the computer off.
  2. Press and hold (and continue to hold) the 'C' key on the keyboard, and turn the machine on.
  3. After a while you should see the Apple logo on the screen, and the computer will boot up into the OS X installer.
  4. Once booted into the installer go to the Utilities Menu, and Choose "Disk Utility".

Format (Erase) Your Drive for Use

Here is an example disk utility window.

You should see a grey icon listed at the top (along with some others which will be your DVD in white).

  1. Select the drive in the left hand pane.
  2. Choose Erase at the top of the right hand pane.
  3. Give the drive a name (Macintosh HD is normal).
  4. Press the Erase button at the bottom right of the right hand pane.
  5. It should complete quickly, when done, the drive is ready for installation.
  6. Go to the Disk Utility Menu (next to the Apple Menu) and choose Quit Disk Utility.

Reinstalling Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Now you are ready to reinstall Mac OS X from the booted DVD drive.

  1. Click Continue.
  2. Click Agree to agree to the license agreement.
  3. Choose where to install the OS – choose the drive you have just erased.
  4. Then click Install. The machine will complete the installation, and then ask you to restart.
  5. Upon restart, create a user account. Then connect to the internet and finish the setup wizard. You should then boot through to the 10.6 desktop.

Upgrading Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to OS X 10.11 El Capitan

So, first stage complete. Now you need to upgrade your OS to OS X 10.11 El Capitan. For some Macs this will be your maximum compatible OS, but even if it isn't, it is easier to through 10.11 even if your goal is higher (say 10.13). Check which OS you machine can support in the top section of this guide.

  1. If you are running an earlier version of 10.6 you must first upgrade to 10.6.8 - in order to get to the higher OSs you need 10.6.8. You can either do this through Apple Menu > Software Update, or by downloading the 10.6.8 updater image from apple. Then follow the on screen instructions until your machine is done. Check that you have reached 10.6.8 from the Apple Menu > About This Mac.
  2. Now you can download 10.11 El Capitan, which you can get with this: Mac App Store link.
  3. Download the installer and run it. This will be similar to the 10.6 install process, but without the need to Erase/Format the drive again. At the end of the process check you are running 10.11 from Apple Menu > About This Mac.

However one issue you may run into when installing early operating systems, is that the installer fails with a "No packages eligible for install" error. This is caused by an out of date security certificate. You may be able to resolve this as follows:

  1. With your install media connected, restart the machine. But hold down the ALT key on the keyboard.
  2. You will see an item called "Mac OS X Installer" select this and press the arrow underneath.
  3. This will re-boot into the installer again (which just failed).
  4. When it boots, go to the Utilities menu and choose "Terminal".
  5. Enter the following command (without quotes): "date 0418171516", followed by the return key.
  6. Now go to the Terminal menu and choose quit Terminal.
  7. Now click the install now button and allow the installer to finish.

Upgrading to 10.13 High Sierra (For Supported Macs)

If your Mac is compatible (see the start of this guide) you can upgrade further to macOS 10.13 High Sierra, which is advisable, unless you have a specific requirement for the lower operating system, to ensure you run as up to date software as possible.

  1. Download High Sierra from this Mac App Store link.
  2. Let the installer download and then run it. The 10.13 installer may restart several times during the process. This last part is pretty reliable.
  3. Once this is complete you are upto date and running High Sierra!

Operating System Links

In case you have a very old machine that cannot install 10.11, or have requirement for a specific operating system, here is a list of links to obtain all the operating systems that are compatible with any of these Macs that remain legally available.