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I have a MacBook Pro that came with OS X 10.6. I have since lost the disc and need to reinstall the Mac OS X. I have another disc on it’s way from Apple but I could do with using my computer in the meantime.

A friend of mine has a slightly newer Macbook Pro, also with OS X 10.6. I have tried using his OS disc but I get the message:

Mac OS X can’t be installed on this computer.

Seeing as it's a MacBook I don’t think this message is entirely accurate! Is there a way around this?

Someone suggested that this may happen if the HDD was formatted incorrectly. I have formatted it as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) but this didn’t make any difference.

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Your friend's computer is really newer, right? Not slightly older? See also Apple's Mac OS X versions (builds) included with Intel-based Macs. – Arjan Dec 9 '10 at 11:11
Nope, definitely newer. He bought it a couple of weeks ago. Mine was about a year ago. – Mr_Chimp Dec 9 '10 at 11:12
Ah, interesting link. It would appear that mine came with 10.6 whereas his comes with 10.6.3. I guess this means I can't use his disc...? – Mr_Chimp Dec 9 '10 at 11:18
Newer versions usually include support for older versions, not the other way around. It should therefore work. Notifying @Arjan of your replies – Daniel Beck Dec 9 '10 at 11:55
I've read that Apple distinguishes between retail versions (basically upgrades) and discs that come with a machine, and somehow limits usage of the included discs to only work with its original hardware version. (Maybe even distinguishes between models like MacBook and Mac mini.) But I couldn't find a good reference. – Arjan Dec 9 '10 at 12:14

According to Using OS X Install CDs/DVDs On Multiple Macs in Apple's User Tips Library:

System software installation CDs/DVDs, that come with a particular Mac model, are hardware specific to that model, and not intended to be used on other Mac models.

The DVD for OS X 10.4.6 Tiger, as shipped with the first generation May 2006 Intel MacBook, is apparently build number 8L2025, and that's the only "hardware bundle" disc that can be used on those models, apart from retail upgrades. See also Apple's What's a "computer-specific Mac OS X release"?, and a list of build numbers on The Apple Museum.

(I cannot find that build number on the disc itself. A label like 2Z691-5788-A on the above-mentioned May 2006 MacBook 10.4.6 disc seems to be some part number instead. Likewise, a 10.5 disc that came with a February 2008 Mac mini is labelled 2Z691-6150-A. On the same discs, AHT version 3A104 and AHT version 3A137 labels refer to the version of the Apple Hardware Test software.)

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The article you quoted first only refers to product types, e.g. iMac/Macbook, not the revisions though. And it's also more than six years old information, unfortunately. // Although the Apple article doesn't state it clearly, it's possible that the specific build for a newer machine of the same type has a common "ancestor" of the earlier machine's software, instead of being derived from it (and therefore supporting the earlier machine). This could explain the OP's problem. – Daniel Beck Dec 9 '10 at 12:31
Daniel, I'm not sure I understand - shouldn't that mean I don't have a problem? – Mr_Chimp Dec 9 '10 at 12:37
@Mr_Chimp Don't forget the @ when answering someone's comment, otherwise they don't get notified // You obviously have a problem, otherwise it'd work. I just wrote that, as I understand those articles, they don't provide enough information. – Daniel Beck Dec 9 '10 at 14:41
@Daniel Beck - Yep, pretty sure I do have a problem! I just meant that your comment above seems to suggest that a disc from a newer macbook would work on an older one - I don't see how this would explain my problem... – Mr_Chimp Dec 9 '10 at 16:31
@Mr_Chimp (and Daniel) I got to that (old) User Tips Library by following links on several Google results. Too bad I cannot find a more recent and more official statement. But I'm afraid the statement is right. – Arjan Dec 9 '10 at 16:41

Apple's grey Software Restore discs run a hardware check to prevent their use on a different model or version of Mac. Occasionally you will come across a SR disc that works on a different Mac model/version than the one that it shipped with but that is an anomaly.

The solution is to get the correct SR disc from Apple, or purchase a retail "full install" disc, not an "upgrade" disc.

Edit: The retail software install discs run a less restrictive hardware check to see that the target meets minimum system requirements.

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From what I've read, an "upgrade" disc actually includes the full installer, it's only an upgrade because you pay less for it if you own an earlier version. – Mr_Chimp Dec 10 '10 at 13:56
@Mr_Chimp, even more: there is no true full 10.6. Any Mac always has some Mac OS installed when buying it, so one could say any retail disc is an upgrade. But: the $29 OS 10.6 retail/upgrade disc is, at least officially, not to be used on 10.4 Tiger machines, only on 10.5 Leopard machines (including upgraded 10.4 machines, which sold for $129 in 2007). For the 10.4 Intel users, the "full" 10.6 is only sold in $129 Mac Box Sets (including other software). I wonder if installing the $29 regular upgrade on a Tiger machine (or on any completely erased Intel Mac) is really impossible though... – Arjan Dec 10 '10 at 15:02

Use the disk that came with your computer. Or get a retail disk.

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Did you read the question? I don't have the disc that came with the computer. I have a replacement on its way. The question was can I use another disc in the meantime. – Mr_Chimp Dec 9 '10 at 13:17
Yes. You can. If you use a retail disk. Or the same one that came with your computer. Or the same one that came with someone else's computer, if it's the same model as yours. Did you read my answer? :-P – Harv Dec 12 '10 at 4:17
@Arjan - an erase/install does work. I do it all the time. Though I will typically do a manual backup/restore of data . – Harv Dec 12 '10 at 19:59

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