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Note: This question isn't asking for buying advice; it's compatibility advice.

I need to install Mac OS X 10.7 on my Mac mini (mid 2011) which does not have a DVD drive.

Background: I upgraded my original 10.7 install to 10.8 (dev preview), I need to install 10.7 on a new partition, and still need my 10.8 install there for testing.

Rather than buying a shiny Mac SuperDrive for £66, I figured I'd just buy a cheap generic DVD drive for £15 but I'm worried that I won't be able to install Mac OS X (on an empty partition) using this. I would bet that the DVD drive will work on an installed OS, but I'm a little bit unsure of whether I can actually boot from one given the proprietary nature of Apple hardware.

Please could there be no "it should work" or any guess answers like that. Please only answer if you have first hand experience of this actually working on a Mac mini or MacBook Air.


This post seems to indicate that I can use a generic DVD drive, but nobody has said anything about booting to the OS X installer.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

This doesn't directly answer the question you've asked above, but you need not use a DVD drive if you have a spare 8GB+ USB thumb drive. Instead, you can create a bootable USB drive that will work with any Mac that doesn't have a DVD drive.

Links to create such a bootable USB drive can be found in this Apple.SE answer. I've successfully used the instructions found in this guide, which provides step-by-step instructions and screenshots on how to accomplish this task. Quick summary of the steps:

  1. Download OS X Lion (instructions from Apple KB on how to redownload Lion here)
  2. Find the InstallESD.dmg file inside the Lion installer (see the guide for specific instructions)
  3. Restore InstallESD.dmg to the USB drive using Disk Utility

Once these steps are completed, you'll have a bootable USB drive that can install Lion.

share|improve this answer
Nice! I might use this :) – nbolton May 12 '12 at 23:22

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