How to run Snow Leopard on an Apple silicon Mac

Yes, that is all good advice, but I am waiting for the next official Mac Mini upgrade before I make the plunge.

I would never buy another Mac Mini without its ability to have or upgrade to at least 16 MB RAM as I learned from my 2011 Mac Mini 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5, when I upgraded it from 8MB.

I continue to have great usage from this model 10+ years later on High Sierra, but my next Mac with be Apple Silicon and not Intel.

One of my “hobbies” is my continuation of helping those that must use Snow Leopard for access to Rosetta to run never-upgraded PowerPC applications. Admittedly these users are declining with time.

My new challenge will be how to run Snow Leopard on an Apple Silicon Mac!

No disagreement with you. I agree that the current M1 mini is a great machine, but it’s really for early adopters. I’m expecting a much better system in the next revision of it.

My post about the 2018 Intel mini is simply meant as advice for those who can’t wait. If you need one now, you need to choose between M1 (latest CPU/GPU, best performance) and Intel (more ports, more RAM, a mature system platform).

Let us know how it goes. You’ll need to run some kind of Intel emulator (probably QEMU) in order to run it. Right now, this means living on the bleeding edge, because there’s a lot of work taking place in the QEMU community to make it all happen.

But if the goal is to run PowerPC apps and you know you’re going to need an emulator, it’s probably going to be better to just emulate a PPC Mac and see if you can run an appropriate Mac OS X there (probably 10.4 “Tiger” or 10.5 “Leopard”), if you have OS installation discs for them. Why emulate an Intel CPU if it’s just going to use Rosetta to run PPC software?

According to Emaculation, QEMU can emulate a PPC or 68K Mac capable of running Mac OS 7.1 through 10.5, so this might be a good starting point - to see if anyone in the QEMU community has yet gotten PPC emulation running on Apple Silicon, and then boot MacOS X 10.5 in that environment.

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I believe that 10.5 Leopard is Intel-native and 10.4 Tiger had first a PowerPC version and then an Intel version.

However, I believe that 10.6 Snow Leopard is readily available for modest purchase, while Apple does not offer Tiger or Leopard.

I’ll start with a look at the Qemu link you suggested; thank you!

There was some early PowerPC support for Snow Leopard before being dropped as indicated here:

Snow Leopard discs are seen on eBay for around twenty dollars so that might be one source.

Yes, $20 is what Apple sold Snow Leopard for; either version, including Snow Leopard Server, and perhaps they still do.

The point of using Snow Leopard is to gain the stability and additions of version 6.0.8, which I am sure are not included in their earlier developmental PowerPC version.

If you read some of the comments, there is really only one version of the early system that works well assuming someone needs the PowerPC environment. I only mentioned it since it’s not that widely known. I never tried it since I have no need for that since I still have two PowerPC computers that run 10.5 and 10.4 if needed for some old programs. I also have two older Intel Mini’s that run Snow Leopard mostly for iTunes usage.

As for emulation, some programs will not run properly so it’s almost easier just to use old computers for those times you need certain applications.

Could you please be more specific? Thank you.

This is from the page I linked earlier which is discussing PowerPC issues only:

A Clouded Leopard is a nickname for the Mac OS X Snow Leopard Developer Previews (DPs), released between June 2008 and late 2008, which were found to be Universal Binaries. With minor modifications, these DPs install and run on later G4 and G5 PowerPC Macs. Despite this, Apple clarified soon after releasing its first DP at WWDC 2008 that PowerPC Macs would not be supported once Snow Leopard went on sale.

That first DP, Build 10A96, Darwin 10.0.0d1, is generally the most PowerPC-friendly, out-of-the-box, of the known Snow Leopard Universal Binary DPs.

The Build 10A190 Developer Preview of Snow Leopard (Darwin 10.0.0d2), released October 2008, was also found to boot and launch successfully on PowerPC Macs, but a sizeable portion of PowerPC code had been removed by Apple. On Build 10A190, certain components needed for stability and overall functionality were compiled only for Intel architectures. Community-based efforts to recompile these components for PowerPC use are ongoing.

Build 10A222, released early 2009, manages to boot partially on a PowerPC Mac, but Finder and most prefPanes are Intel only. So far, no one has been able to successfully reach WindowServer or SystemUIServer on a PowerPC Mac with this DP. This and subsequent builds are archived on this page, despite the focus increasingly being directed at Intel Macs. Even during late development, the xnu mach kernel continued to be a Universal Binary.

So the first two links on that page for download refer to the 10A96 build but as stated previously, some things might not work. There is a Wiki page listed that can give you updated information.

Yes, thank you, but Snow Leopard before 6.0.3 will raise many problems, so I will not be going down that avenue; that is Snow Leopard for PowerPC.

Old computers are just that: old computers; subject to die at any point.

I have always looked for a solution that worked with any new Mac and with Intel, I always had that solution for running Snow Leopard.

Now with M1, it is going to be a challenge.

But as I said earlier, the universe of the people whom I advise continues to diminish in their need to run PowerPC software or hardware that has PowerPC software that was never rewritten for Intel.

10.4 was originally PPC-only. Intel support was added later on, so the only installation DVDs with Intel support are those that came bundled with hardware, and those should only be used with the model Mac they were bundled with.

10.5 shipped with both PPC and Intel code out of the box. I know this for a fact - I ran it on my PPC Mac for many years.

The big problem with 10.5 is that Apple dropped support for Classic mode apps and 68K CPU emulation. If you’ve got a PPC Mac and Classic apps, you may therefore want to not upgrade beyond 10.4, in order to avoid dual-booting between Mac OS X and the Classic Mac OS that was (probably) also bundled with it - 9.22 in the case of mine.

10.6 dropped PPC support and was Intel-only.

So true but I still have and use my old Performa 6400 with G3 upgrade for some apps and it’s around 23 years old and still works so it’s surprising how long some devices can last.

I always maintained two partitions, one for 10.4 and the other 10.5 on my PowerBook G4 PPC so if I need the Classic environment, I can just boot into 10.4 so upgrading should not be an issue assuming the computer is capable of running 10.5 smoothly.

Although 10.6 dropped PPC support, the early developer releases which can run on PPC shows that is viable for limited use and I suppose could have been maintained had Apple not dropped that support.

I am not sure what you mean by this statement: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard still has Rosetta, the transparent translator that allows PowerPC apps to run in Snow Leopard.

Rosetta was eliminated in the 2011 introduction of new Macs, including the Mac Mini, which requires OS X 10.7 Lion. However, through the efforts of “newfoundglory,” Snow Leopard can be installed and run natively on the 2011 Mac Mini.

You’re talking about a different situation. If you look back at my posts, I have never mentioned Rosetta. I was talking about running early developer builds of Snow Leopard on a PowerPC platform as opposed to Intel. Apple dropped all PowerPC support for Snow Leopard running on PowerPC machines such as a Mac Mini G4 or a PowerBook G4 both of which I still have and use. You cannot install Snow Leopard on those machines as Leopard was the last version to work on PPC chips unless you want to experiment with the early developer releases of Snow Leopard which I posted links for earlier.

By the way, there have been other hacks so that Snow Leopard can run on other machines such as my 2012 Mac Mini i7 but you had to run the system differently as I recall from a CD or DVD as it relied on a patch.

Please provide a link: In all of my research over the years, I have never come across a 2012 Mac Mini running Snow Leopard. (See: The Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Thread)

My work is to help those locked into using some PowerPC apps on modern Macs; and not experimenting with more modern OS’es on a PowerPC Mac.

For example, some people have a library full of graphics that were created on Macromedia Freehand MX.

Adobe acquired the rights to Freehand and promptly proceeded to retire its development without any ability to convert Freehand graphics to other programs.

So these people must find a way to run Snow Leopard on a modern Mac to continue to access and, if necessary, modify their graphics.

In my experience, even though two translation steps are involved: Parallels to run Snow Leopard and Rosetta to run, for example, Freehand; modern Macs are so fast that these apps run faster today than they did on legacy PowerPC Macs.

I don’t have a link to the 2012 Mini as that’s something I found around 2014 and it wasn’t something I needed since I already had machines running Snow Leopard.

I think you have the best answer when you mentioned using Parallels or VMware Fusion.

As for the experimenting comment, that’s how we learn to solve problems. Whether you want to spend the time on that is your decision. I merely presented some information as there might be others looking for possible solutions which they might not be aware of for older PPC machines.

I found an article from someone who managed to hack-install this: Installing OS 10.6.8 on a Mac Mini built for 10.7 – yes, it’s possible.

It’s definitely a hack and involves putting one Mac (the newer one that shipped with 10.7) into target disk mode and using another Mac (that came with 10.6) to install Mac OS X onto it.

While it may work, this is definitely an unsupported configuration. I assume it will become less and less likely to work as the target Mac’s hardware gets newer and newer.

Using a VM is definitely the better approach.

I think this is the one I used and it did work:

I agree that using a VM is easier and better overall.

That article, published on March 29, 2012, is one of the early experimenters attempting to install Snow Leopard into the 2011 Mac Mini, which shipped with Lion.

The 2012 Mac Mini was not released until October of that year.

That article and other research after it, resulted in the ability to install and run Snow Leopard in the 2012 Mac Pro (as noted in the the overall Snow Leopard thread, I linked earlier). They never were successful in getting the 2012 Mac Mini to run Snow Leopard; the Mac that is the essence of this thread.

But it is good to be able to dispel those rumors here for those who might be under a continuing misconception; just as there was a common myth back then that running Snow Leopard (client, as opposed to Server) in a VM was a violation of its EULA.