How to Downgrade Mac OS X Lion to Snow Leopard

After installing Mac OS X Lion if you facing any trouble like some apps are not working, stuck with a Lion beta version or you just don’t like it and want to downgrade lion to snow leopard then here is the guide to do that. OS X Lion doesn’t allow to downgrade easily so follow the step by step guide to downgrade Mac OS X Lion.

Downgrade Lion to Snow Leopard



Backup through Time Machine on an external disk drive


Insert Snow Leopard DVD or Disk drive. I am using a bootable Snow Leopard USB flash drive and if you have DVD, it doesn’t matter you can use that as well

Restart your Mac, hold the “alt” key from keyboard when you hear the start-up sound


You will see Mac’s boot menu screen as shown below, double click on the OS X Snow Leopard bootable DVD or Disk drive (If you are using DVD you will see a Disc icon instead of USB drive icon)

Mac OS X Boot menu

This will restart your Mac again and boot from selected option either DVD or Disk drive.

Click on Arrow and on the next screen click “Continue” and then “Agree” button

Snow Leopard setup Install Mac OS X

If you see a Yellow icon on the drive, which you want to use to install OS X Snow Leopard then you need to format either Lion partition (if you have multiple partition) or the whole drive


Click on “Utilities” menu and select “Disk Utility”

Disk Utility

Formatting Partition or whole disk

If you have multiple partitions then you can select only Lion partition and format it instead of formatting whole drive.

I have only one partition, so i am going to format the whole drive again (i have backup my data in step-1)

  1. Select the drive from left-side that you want to format
  2. click on Partition tab
  3. Select Volume Scheme: 1 Partition
  4. Type the Volume name: MacSnow
  5. Choose Format: “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”
  6. Click the “Apply” button to format the drive and create a new partition

This will take some time to format it. When done close this window

Format disk


Now select the drive icon that you just formatted and click the “Install” button

Select disk to install OS X

This will start installing the OS X Snow Leopard on your Mac.

Installing Mac OS X

When installation finished, click the restart button.

Mac OS X Install Succeeded


When you restart your Mac, now follow the on screen instructions on few steps to set up your Mac.

Welcome Mac OS X screen

So you have successfully downgrade Mac OS X Lion to Snow Leopard.

Restore Time Machine Backup

One of these Mac set up steps you can restore your data from backup that you have taken in step-1 using Time Machine, to do so choose “From a Time Machine backup” option and follow the instructions. Restore process may take hours as it all depends on volume of your data which will get¬†transferred.

If you don’t want to restore data right, don’t worry you can do this later using “Migration Assistant” built-in Mac application

Restore backup Time Machine

See also:



4 comments… add one
borriffick November 30, 2011, 5:33 am

I’m getting stuck in the middle of Step 3: I’m stuck with an erased Lion drive now, and a USB drive with SL that just hangs when I try to boot it. I’m sure I created it correctly. Also the same thing happens when I try to boot from my original SL discs. Any ideas?

Barcaboy September 28, 2012, 5:02 pm

Hey borriffick,

I’m having the same issue as well. I think the problem is that your mac has pre-installed lion, and therefore, booting from a usb isn’t going to work.

Best regards,

the who October 28, 2012, 11:56 pm

If you are sure you made the USB snowleopard booter properly and your SL dvd’s arent bootable either, it sounds as if you have a mac that SHIPPED with Lion. While there are some machines that ship with lion and can still be downgraded, any “Ivy Bridge” equipped Mac should not have that capability. I recommend you try installing SL on a external drive (using an older mac too, of course) and see the computer you are trying to downgrade can boot to that external disk with snow leopard.

Antonio Gil June 17, 2016, 2:41 am

In my case your instructions worked wonderfully.Thanks a lot!

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