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Take Control of Upgrading to Snow Leopard
Install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard with confidence!
Installing a major new version of Mac OS X should be exciting and fun, but without proper guidance you may find it nerve-wracking or even lose valuable files. Fortunately, many thousands of people have upgraded Mac OS X calmly and successfully with Joe Kissell's previous best-selling Take Control of Upgrading... titles. Joe's friendly, expert steps—developed over innumerable test installations—help you to avoid trouble, understand what's going on when you install Snow Leopard, and easily recover from problems that might arise. The ebook will help you:
Want help with installing a later version of Mac OS X? Check our catalog for new editions of this ebook that will help you with later upgrades.
You should buy this ebook if one—or both—of the following describes your situation:
Specific questions answered in this ebook include:
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About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Reviews of Previous Editions
Table of Contents
Read Me First
Upgrading to a new version of Mac OS X can be a daunting prospect, but with some expert advice, you’ll be running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in no time. This book eliminates the uncertainty and the confusion, guiding you through every step of the process. This book was written by Joe Kissell and edited by Tonya Engst.
I learned to drive on a car with a manual transmission, so it always seemed normal to me to be in charge of exactly when the car shifted into which gear. The first time I sat in a car with an automatic transmission, I was so confused and befuddled that I had to call my mother for instructions! It may have been simpler to operate, but I didn’t know how to deal with the lack of control I was used to.
The Snow Leopard installer reminds me a bit of my first experience driving an automatic. Apple has gone to great lengths to make it less complex and easier to use, but in so doing they’ve also removed the option to make certain decisions many of us have grown used to over the course of several major releases of Mac OS X. They’ve also added a few options we never had to think about before. Although the installer usually does the right thing automatically, it’s still not entirely foolproof, and if you’re not careful, you can lose important data.
Apart from the specifics of running the installer, upgrading to a new version of Mac OS X means changing a ton of important files and fundamentally altering the way your Mac works. You might encounter hardware or software incompatibilities, be confused about where certain features have gone, or wonder why Snow Leopard is asking a lot of questions that it should already know how to answer. For all these reasons and more, I’ve written this guide to walk you through every step of the process—before, during, and after the upgrade itself.
I’ve previously written Take Control books about upgrading to Panther, Tiger, and Leopard, and although this current book borrows a few pieces from those earlier works, it’s essentially a brand new document, reflecting the entirely new way Snow Leopard deals with software installation. So I urge you to set aside any assumptions or biases you may have formed by reading earlier Upgrading books and approach Snow Leopard with fresh eyes.
In the first few days after any new release of Mac OS X, there’s a flurry of updated software and information about solving problems. To learn the latest news—and to see whether there’s an updated copy of this book—click Check for Updates on the cover.
This book contains a lot of details, not all of which you need to know. But before upgrading, you should be familiar with the overall process. And, regardless of the order in which you read this book, you should perform the listed tasks in the order given—for example, back up your files before cleaning out cruft. Here’s a brief overview of the steps you should take.
Version 1.1 covers new information that has emerged since Snow Leopard's release, and clarifies or corrects several other items. Major changes include the following:
Sure! The most important Snow Leopard hardware requirement is an Intel processor. To determine if you're using an Intel-based Mac, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and look in the Processor line. If it says Intel somewhere in that line, then your Mac has an Intel processor and you're good to go with Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard isn't compatible with any PowerPC-based Macs, sorry!
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
Reader O.M. wrote in to say "I bought your ebook Upgrading to SL on Thursday and read it through once that evening. On Friday, I not only bought the Snow Leopard update, but also a brand new hard drive with FireWire 800. I followed the instructions in your book 'to a T,' and I had a very easy, smooth, and successful transition with full confidence that my Leopard based [Carbon Copy Cloner] CCC clone was there in case anything went wrong. In addition, the cloning was so easy, I will be doing weekly incremental clones on both our current iMac and the new MacBook Pro we are picking up next week. Thanks for the great guidence. It is very much appreciated."
A fabulous guide, and totally indispensable!
As someone who only recently "crossed over" from Windows, although I have had nothing but good experiences using Leopard, upgrading to a new OS nevertheless still filled me with concern, and to do it with all the programs and files still in place, plus Boot Camp onboard, doubly so!
This book very smoothly walks you through preparations, and the upgrade process itself. So I never felt as if any problem that might occur was unfix-able. As it was, the upgrade went without a hitch.
Thank you for this guide, and also for making the price so reasonable. I recommend this guide to everyone!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
July 5, 2012 -- We do not plan to update this Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard ebook. However, a new edition, Take Control of Upgrading to Lion, is available. And, we've also now published a 10.8 Mountain Lion edition.
—Tonya J Engst
November 11, 2009 --
The bug bashers at Apple have been busy enhancing Snow Leopard and many of its related applications (especially Mail and Safari), as well as MobileMe, and Mac OS X 10.6.2 is now available with many improvements. If you haven't already, I recommend that you run Software Update and install it. For more information about what's new in 10.6.2, read Apple's description of the update—About the Mac OS X v10.6.2 Update or the TidBITS write-up—Mac OS X 10.6.2 Addresses Myriad Bugs and Security Issues. The TidBITS article also has comments at the end where various people have written in about their 10.6.2 update experience.
—Tonya J Engst
November 2, 2009 --
Apple has publicly acknowledged a rare but nasty data-destroying bug related to using the Guest account in Snow Leopard. The bug appears to be associated with having a Guest account already set up before you upgrade to Snow Leopard. While there is currently no fix available, we hope to see one in 10.6.2. To learn more, check out my TidBITS article, Apple Acknowledges Guest Account Data Loss Bug. [This bug was fixed in 10.6.2.]
September 17, 2009 --
Although most people who've upgraded to Snow Leopard have done so without causing any unusual SuperDrive behavior, TidBITS Publishing has received several email messages recently from readers about problems with broken SuperDrives, seemingly triggered by running the Snow Leopard installation DVD.
We've done some investigating, and it seems that while the latest crop of complaints is related to Snow Leopard, the problem is older, more widespread, and more complex than a simple "installing Snow Leopard broke my drive." To read a detailed analysis of the problems and solutions that have appeared on the Internet, plus get a list of possible solutions, read Doug McLean's TidBITS article, Exploring Widespread SuperDrive Problems.
—Tonya J Engst
September 16, 2009 --
Even Snow Leopard's updates are faster and sleeker. Mac OS X 10.6.1 is out with minor fixes for Apple Mail, Flash security, and printer drivers. A few unacknowledged errors seem to have disappeared, too, although other problems remain. Read more in the (somewhat silly) TidBITS article Tiny Mac OS X 10.6.1 Update Fixes Some Bugs.
September 4, 2009 --
Adobe is reporting that Snow Leopard installs an outdated—and vulnerable—version of Flash Player (though it was likely the most reasonable version to include when Snow Leopard was locked down for shipping). So, even if you recently updated Flash Player to avoid security vulnerabilities, you'll need to update again if you've moved to Snow Leopard in the meantime. [This problem was solved with the release of Snow Leopard 10.6.1. If you update to 10.6.1, you'll get the right version of Flash Player. -Tonya]
September 1, 2009 --
On the MacJury podcast for September 1, 2009, two out of five "jurors" are Take Control authors —Joe Kissell and Matt Neuburg. Find out how everyone's Snow Leopard installation experience went. And hear a vociferous argument about whether Apple's Intel-only policy for Snow Leopard is fair on users.
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