This will be my first real Mac OS X install. I was trying to use bootcamp and I must have formatted the entire disc or the MBR is messed up. Anyway, I'm trying to reinstall Snow Leopard from the DVD. First of all, can this be done if no OS X install exists on the hard drive?

This is a Mac mini (newest edition). Thanks.

--Replies to responses--

I followed the response below about using c while starting up. That did immediately boot right to the DVD so that part is working, however, I still get the multi-language power on off message. My best guess is that the SNOW Leopard DVD that I bought to update my MBP won't do the job here. Am I crazy or does that sound right?

  • I tried the option key already. After it scoots along for awhile a screen comes up and says: This is after the apple screen with the animated timer thingy is moving it says: "You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button until it turns off, then press the Power button again." When I follow it's instruction (I tried several times) it still boots into XP automatically. Feb 6, 2011 at 16:09
  • SuperUser is not a forum. Please make responses like these as comments to existing answers or edits to your existing question.
    – NReilingh
    Feb 6, 2011 at 16:09
  • I only see Link Edit or Flag under your big answer above. So I had to put my response in my initial question. For some odd reason this is the only answer I can comment on. WEIRD. Feb 6, 2011 at 16:09
  • @MikeMartin please login with the same site that you logged into Stack Overflow. That way you can claim this question and leave a comment on it.
    – Sathyajith Bhat
    Feb 6, 2011 at 16:09
  • @Mike To clarify, Mac OS X Setup (when booting from DVD) crashes with that message? How far into setup do you get? What model Mac do you have, and when did you buy the Snow Leopard DVD?
    – Daniel Beck
    Feb 6, 2011 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


Booting from the install DVD is completely independent from any existing systems on your hard drive. Technically, it's possible even if your hard drive is missing.

The grey screen with the instructions in multiple languages in the box in the middle is a kernel panic. It's just telling you how to hard-reset the power supply and start over.

To be clear, when you boot with the option key held down, you should be seeing the boot disk selection screen long before any kernel is even loaded, hence no kernel is running to panic in the first place. If the option key boot disk selection is not working, then something is wrong either with your keyboard or with the computer's logic board(/boot ROM/EFI).

After you've done an option-boot, you should be free to insert the installation DVD; it will show up next to your WinXP partition after a moment. Select it and click the arrow to boot the installer.

(The shortcut for this is to boot with the DVD already inserted and then hold down the C key. Also, to be sure, whenever booting while holding a key like this, until you've gained some experience, hold down the key from before you hit the power button, and then don't release it until the system has reached the point you want it to. Also, keyboard boot modifiers need to be inputted on a wired USB keyboard.)

If you receive a kernel panic after this point, then likely you are using an outdated installer DVD. Brand new Apple hardware often requires drivers that are only present on the software restore DVD that came with the computer or on a retail disc that contains the latest subsequent point release of the OS.


Make sure the install DVD is inserted into the slot and boot up while holding down the OPTION key. This should bring you to the boot selection screen. Now, just select the big DVD.

I don't own a Mac, but I think this might work. If it breaks, you get to keep both pieces.

  • I think you mean the OPTION key, not control.
    – jakev
    Feb 6, 2011 at 4:15
  • Heh, it shows that I don't own one ;)
    – Blender
    Feb 6, 2011 at 4:18

Yes you can install Snow Leopard from disc without an existing OS. You might want to reformat the drive first, but you should be fine. Insert the disc and as soon as you hear the tone, hit and hold down the Option key.

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