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I remain unconvinced that Smart Reporter is accurately predicting SSD failures.
For clarity, the drive that I was referring to was an hard disk drive that was failing, not SSD - I have no position or info on whether it reports SMART data accurately for SSD's. I've found it to be useful for HDDs, but I don't use it for SSDs.

On the failing drive above, I dug a bit more, and it was reporting 254 reallocated sectors (which may be the maximum?). Other parameters seemed to flag problems as well.

At any rate, clear to me not worth risking any more data on that drive, given that it coincided with a corrupted/unreadable file and is about six years old.
 



I've migrated from one Mac operating system to another using Migration Assistant many times, mostly because of laziness. And, in gereral, it's worked well. For whatever reason, though, when I decided to upgrade both my Mac Pro and my MacBook Pro to Sierra, I decided to do it the hard way... and I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.
...
Doing this from scratch isn't for everyone, but it was actually much less painful than I feared, and I was very satisfied with the result. I don't know if the system is any more stable because I started from scratch, but at least I don't have to wonder if that's a factor.
As a long time tester of OS X and macOS beta releases, I routinely follow the procedure outlined by Darryl, especially for the initial beta for each OS version. This tends to narrow the scope for problem analysis to whatever I have just installed. I don't have to search the detritus from older installs.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I tried that, too, but the Enable Users button does nothing when I click it.
It sounds like there's some sort of configuration problem that I don't understand.

But, if you want, you could explore more with the command-line utility fdesetup.
Bash:
sudo fdesetup list users
man fdesetup
 


Well, now, in General System Preferences, it shows where I asked it to download to (where previously it showed the wrong place), but it still actually downloads as in "2)" above. And one more anomaly. In the Users directory, where accounts are listed, there is a weirdness. My account is actually "name 2", but the account shown as Home in the folder is "name 1 2". Whenever the system shows the account name - on the login screen for example - it shows it correctly as "name 2". Can I simply correct the account name in the folder without affecting the operation of the account?
Finally, after deleting and recreating the download folder, the download location issue is solved.
 



I've finally accepted that 'Snow Leopard,' much as I've enjoyed it, is at EOL [end of life]. Spoke with the Apple Store today, and they sent a link that'll let me download 'El Capitan' instead of 'High Sierra,' which is the only available option in the Apple Store's menu. Some questions:

1. I'm considering emptying an external hard drive and directing 'El Cap' there for install. The rep said install begins immediately upon completion of download. I'm still stuck in the days of downloading a .dmg and then choosing where the install goes before clicking it. It seems prudent to download to the external hard drive, if that's not the case and it's now an 'Immediate Install.' I'd rather have the external hard drive installed on, than the internal hard drive. I don't want Snow Leopard' overwritten on my internal hard drive. I'll do that later if things work out well from the external hard drive install.

2. Is it even possible to do what is outlined above? If so, can I boot from the internal 'Snow Leopard' hard drive and then call up the 'El Cap' system from the external hard drive, or is that a 'no-go'? Do I need to boot from the 'Snow Leopard' external hard drive if that's the OS I want to use, or is switching possible? If Option 2, then I'll need to install my softwares on the external hard drive afterward.

3. What I'm attempting to achieve is an upgrade of OS operability while retaining as much of the functionality that exists in the 'Snow Leopard' version as possible. I already accept that my legacy software requiring 'Rosetta' emulation will be lost in 'El Cap' and 'High Sierra.' I'm trying to arrive at the method that will introduce the smallest degree of interruption to my workflow. For example: I have no clue as to whether Photoshop CS6, Illustrator CS6, or InDesign CS6 will transfer to 'El Cap' successfully. I've read pros and cons about transferring those softwares to 'El Cap' as well as to 'High Sierra.' Don't know which to believe, but I know my browsers (Firefox 48, Citrio, Chrome, Safari 4.1, etc.) are all well past EOL status. It's now at the point that my emails are being affected to the point of becoming inaccessible.

4. At this point, there is no other physical computer (e.g., another Mac) in the picture. It's all internal to the Mac Pro (mid-2010) and the external hard drive. Can I therefore safely conclude the Migration Assistant will not be needed in this 'upgrade-of-sorts'?

5. That's pretty much the situation as it exists. I plan to clean off an existing external hard drive for download / install of 'El Cap,' and then proceed to download and install onto it. I'd like to do a backup using CCC, but have never used it before. Any tips on where to find information about using it correctly to (a) back up files and (b) make a bootable copy is welcome. Dumb question time: How does one re-install the information contained in the CCC backup to the internal hard drive? Is it just a simple 'point 'n click,' or is there a lot more to it I still need to learn about? Thanks again. All replies appreciated.
 


I'm considering emptying an external hard drive and directing 'El Cap' there for install. The rep said install begins immediately upon completion of download.
The App Store launches the installer after it's downloaded, but it does not automatically install - it will give you a choice of drives to install on.
If so, can I boot from the internal 'Snow Leopard' hard drive and then call up the 'El Cap' system from the external hard drive, or is that a 'no-go'?
Snow Leopard's Startup Disk system preference won't recognize the El Capitan drive. To boot El Capitan, restart then immediately hold down the Option key. Both the Snow Leopard and El Capitan drives should appear. Click the El Capitan drive. Once El Capitan is booted, you can use its Startup Disk system preference to set either El Capitan or Snow Leopard to boot.
What I'm attempting to achieve is an upgrade of OS operability while retaining as much of the functionality that exists in the 'Snow Leopard' version as possible.
I suggest that you have both systems. Perhaps you could install a large SSD in your Mac that will fit both systems. You could pare down the Snow Leopard partition, since you know how much space you're using for it now. The rest can go to El Capitan to accomodate future growth.
At this point, there is no other physical computer (e.g., another Mac) in the picture. It's all internal to the Mac Pro (mid-2010) and the external hard drive. Can I therefore safely conclude the Migration Assistant will not be needed in this 'upgrade-of-sorts'?
Here's what I suggest: As above, leave Snow Leopard intact, so you have both OS versions. When El Capitan finishes installing, immediately migrate the Snow Leopard system to it. This migration will not affect anything on the Snow Leopard drive.

Some software may not be licensed to run on both. You'll have to choose which OS is best suited for that software.
I'd like to do a backup using CCC, but have never used it before. Any tips on where to find information about using it correctly to (a) back up files and (b) make a bootable copy is welcome. Dumb question time: How does one re-install the information contained in the CCC backup to the internal hard drive? Is it just a simple 'point 'n click,' or is there a lot more to it I still need to learn about? Thanks again. All replies appreciated.
I strongly suggest backing up to a second external (separate from the El Capitan) before upgrading. I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner. It will create a bootable clone of your Snow Leopard drive. So if you need to regress for some reason, that second external will have your original setup. All you do in Carbon Copy Cloner is clone the second external backup to the original drive.

If all of this seems too daunting, it wouldn't hurt to have a second clone to a third external drive. After cloning, start up to that drive to verify Snow Leopard cloned OK and works OK. Notice that some licensed software (Office 2011 is finicky) will see the hardware change and require re-entering your license. I suggest just quitting, since you want to leave the original Snow Leopard fully functional.

Clear as mud?
 


It's probably easier to answer all your questions in one go, so here goes:
  • Before you begin, make sure you have at least two different backups of your current boot drive e.g. one Time Machine, one clone. instructions for using Carbon Copy Cloner 3.5.7 (which is Mac OS X 10.6-compatible) are here (for v3.x).
  • You can use your current OS to download the OS X 10.11 installer. It will download to your Applications folder. Once it downloads it will launch. At this point you can quit the installer without installing anything. The installer is ~6GB in size, so make sure you have enough room on your boot drive.
  • Make a copy/backup of the "Install OS X El Capitan" application that now resides in your Applications folder - specifically to a different storage volume than the one the boot volume resides on.
  • Before you install/migrate to the new OS X 10.11 installation, make sure you have deactivated any software that needs to be, specifically Adobe CS6, as you mention this (this was just covered on MacInTouch here).
  • You can now run the "Install OS X El Capitan" application in your Applications folder. At the start of the install process you can choose the volume/drive to install to - so, at this point you can choose to install to your empty hard disk instead of your boot volume. Once the installation has completed, the "Install OS X El Capitan" application in your Applications folder will be automatically deleted (hence making a copy/backup earlier/above). At this point, if you are "migrating" from your old installation, choose to either migrate immediately or create a "setup" account and then migrate manually after installing and updating the OS. Pros/cons of these approaches have been discussed recently on MacInTouch)
  • If you're not planning on "migrating" and simply starting afresh with your new OS X 10.11 install, boot from the new installation and immediately run Mac App Store > Updates and install all available Apple updates with one caveat:
    • Check whether you are okay with upgrading to the latest iTunes 12.7+ (details here). Specifically, if you need to avoid the very latest version, install iTunes 12.6.4 instead.
  • If you're not planning on "migrating", you can now manually install your third party software
  • If you are going to run/install Adobe CS6 you will need to install the old Java 6 Apple frameworks manually first (details here). Personally, I have not had any major problems running CS6 on OS X 10.11, or macOS 10.12, for that matter. Also, Adobe CS6 should install and update fine from a clean install - it's the older versions that have problems.
  • I have more useful information about OS X 10.11 on MacStrategy here:
I hope all that helps. Good luck.
 


This is not any sort of surprise to long-time Mac techs but a cautionary reminder that doing a full migration with Migration Assistant can have side effects:

I got lazy and did a users-and-apps migration from two MacBook Pros ago to my previous 2014-era MacBook Pro, installed however many OS upgrades happened in between, then did the same migration to my new 2018 MacBook Pro, when I should have taken the opportunity to do a users-only migration and reinstall the apps I still need. Oops.

Everything basically works, and, surprisingly enough, CS5 still functions, but I'm now getting random beachballs and near-complete UI hangs (ranging from 2 seconds to 30 seconds) when switching to an app that has been in the background for a while. Spindump is producing Console logs that show that Windowserver is logging thousands of wake events, which is presumably the cause.

I also got annoying firewall messages from some Canon print driver component that wanted to listen for connections and wouldn't take no for an answer.

macOS 10.14 is close enough that I'll just wait until then to do a clean install, but the lesson is that, as good as Migration Assistant is, buying a new computer (especially if your old one has been in use for a few years) is a good opportunity to do some OS housekeeping and reinstall apps rather than having Migration Assistant move them for you. It will probably take a few hours to get everything reinstalled, but in the long run it'll also probably save you some hassle.
 


  • You can use your current OS to download the OS X 10.11 installer. It will download to your Applications folder. Once it downloads it will launch. At this point you can quit the installer without installing anything. The installer is ~6GB in size, so make sure you have enough room on your boot drive.
  • Make a copy/backup of the "Install OS X El Capitan" application that now resides in your Applications folder - specifically to a different storage volume than the one the boot volume resides on.
Additionally, you can create a bootable flash-drive installer from the installation package.

Buried within the installer package is a script called createinstallmedia that will do this for you. There's a MacWorld article that describes the process.

Once this is done, you can boot that flash drive on any Mac compatible with El Capitan to install or repair an installation. This is also a good way to install on a hard drive/SSD that has been completely wiped or if you want to completely wipe the storage as a part of installation ("erase and install").

You can also use macOS Recovery for clean installs, which will pull whatever it needs from the Internet, but that is slower, and you have limited choices regarding what macOS version you can install.
 


Additionally, you can create a bootable flash-drive installer from the installation package. Buried within the installer package is a script called createinstallmedia that will do this for you. There's a MacWorld article that describes the process....
Better still, bypass MacWorld and their horrible spamvertising, incessant tracking and multitude of cookies, altogether, and go straight to Apple's support article with specific instructions for each different version of macOS. ;-)

How to create a bootable installer for macOS
 


Since nobody addressed it directly, CS6 will work... but you must deactivate before the transfer, because Adobe is very inflexible about codes.

Office 2011 is the oldest that will still work; and Microsoft is far more understanding.
 


Do you have a Recovery HD partition on the drive?
Bash:
diskutil list
Disk partitions and formats have sure become more complex. (Ignore the earlier post - I was using the wrong Mac!) Here is the correct Terminal info, and the answer still seems to be that the Mac does have a recovery partition (I think!):
Code:
/dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *251.0 GB   disk0
   1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                 Apple_APFS Container disk1         250.8 GB   disk0s2

/dev/disk1 (synthesized):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      APFS Container Scheme -                      +250.8 GB   disk1
                                 Physical Store disk0s2
   1:                APFS Volume Wife's MacBook Pro HD   218.9 GB   disk1s1
   2:                APFS Volume Preboot                 39.5 MB    disk1s2
   3:                APFS Volume Recovery                1.0 GB     disk1s3
   4:                APFS Volume VM                      3.2 GB     disk1s4
 


Eliminating all Canon software before switching would also probably have solved your problem. Generally, old or lousy device drivers have responsible for nearly all my problems in the past, along with the odd commercial anti-virus program.
 


Disk partitions and formats have sure become more complex. (Ignore the earlier post - I was using the wrong Mac!) Here is the correct Terminal info, and the answer still seems to be that the Mac does have a recovery partition (I think!)...
I spoke with an Apple rep from the Enterprise team yesterday, initially about a different issue, but wound up addressing not being able to decrypt a drive from user accounts as well.

First, the aside, because it is interesting and might be helpful to someone else.

The other issue is that I had purchased my work MacBook Pro from my employer when I retired. In spite of their efforts and my efforts to erase the drive, the MacBook Pro kept popping up an invitation to have HAL ( ;-) configure the machine for me. Couldn't get rid of it so I finally had time to call Apple yesterday.

Corporate purchases have Apple register the hardware (Macs, iPhones, and iPads) with an enterprise provisioning system. When the Mac boots up, it checks in with the system (I think it's called DEP) and if the hardware is listed, it pops up with the offer to get it set up with all the proper enterprise profiles, policies, and software. One of the beauties of the system is that it can all take place outside the enterprise's firewall. So, work-at-home employees can get their machine shipped direct from Apple and set it up even before they have a VPN link to their company.

Another consequence is that if an enterprise machine is stolen, and let's say purchased from a pawn shop, it can be identified, located, and retrieved, not to mention have its data wiped and protected, when it is next restarted. Once the phone DEP handshake takes place, there are hooks placed deep in the system library, so forevermore the enrollment invitation will appear after a period of operation. I wished to eliminate it.

The only way to remove the invitation is to:

1) First make sure the device is no longer registered as part of the Enterprise program in DEP.
2) Then, perform Time Machine and possibly other backups, like a disk image.
3) Only after the device is removed from DEP, do a complete reinstall of macOS, preferably over the network (although the network thing might not be an absolute requirement) using recovery mode.
4) Now use Migration Assistant to migrate only the users and data (no applications!!) from one of the backups.
5) Reinstall your apps by hand, but do not use Migration Assistant to do so from the disk image or Time Machine backups, since that might bring enrollment contamination back onto the the fresh configuration.

In my case, I can use Migration Assistant to bring the apps over from a previous MacBook Air, and then update them again and install anything that was not there before the original migration. The longer one waits, the less fidelity this might bring, but I think I'm still in a lucky period of time.

Now, back to my original problem of having to enter a disk password before booting up and being unable to enable users to do so using their logon passwords. The Apple enterprise rep explained that APFS is more particular about a number of things, which happen to include FileVault encryption.

Following Ric's great advice to format the drive encrypted before installing macOS as a way to save myself from a complete multi-day FileVault encryption process seems to run afoul of APFS, and once done, starting up is a 2-step process with no ability to later permit users to unlock the volume using their account passwords. However, by following the process outlined above, it appears that I will wind up deleting my encrypted volume/partition and will be able to create a new, unencrypted volume for the new install -- requiring FileVault encryption in the laborious mode after the full migration is complete.

I complained about both the length of time FileVault encryption takes plus the fact that it's an extra write on every block of the SSD, even those with no data. He was sympathetic but unable to offer any help.

Sigh! One step forward, two new steps of overhead :-(
 


I've finally accepted that 'Snow Leopard,' much as I've enjoyed it, is at EOL. Spoke with the Apple Store today, and they sent a link that'll let me download 'El Capitan' instead of 'High Sierra,' which is the only available option in the Apple Store's menu. Some questions...
I would do the following steps:

1) Buy a SATA SSD. You can get a Mac Pro sled adapter, or in a pinch just use the extra SATA plug in the CD-ROM bay and maybe a bit of velcro.
2) Download the El Capitan installer, but quit once it starts running.
3) Use an 8GB flash drive to build a bootable install drive (see links in the thread).
4) Physically remove the Snow Leopard drive.
5) Boot from the USB drive and install El Capitan on the SSD.

Once you're satisfied, you can put your Snow Leopard drive back in, and (when necessary) use the Option key at bootup to swap from one OS to the other.

Note also, later on you can buy a PCIe card for your SSD, which raises maximum drive speed from 300MB/sec to almost 600MB/sec (SATA 2 to SATA 3). It's a nice speed upgrade, and it's very easy as you can just use your existing bootable SSD with no software installs needed.
 


We upgrade faculty and staff laptops every three years. Returned machines are reformatted, re-imaged, and put back into service as mobile cart labs and checkout/loaner machines. What we received back this year are Early 2015 MacBook Air (MacBookAir7,2) with resident OSes ranging among Sierra, El Capitan, or Yosemite, depending on when it was deployed. These laptops can have from 1-40 Preferred WiFi connections, depending on the primary user.

We boot from a macOS 10.13.6 USB stick and erase Macintosh HD from within Disk Utility as MacOS Extended (Journaled). We then install macOS 10.13.6 from USB (not connected to any WiFi networks).

After the High Sierra installation is complete, we join our primary WiFi network and localize the machine. Logged in as the local machine admin, and opening Network System Preference > Advanced > Preferred Networks, there will be two networks. The first WiFi network is our primary WiFi (after the clean install) and a random WiFi network that is not local to our site. My guess is it's the last WiFi used before turning their Mac in.

Somehow, one of the preferred WiFi networks persists through a drive erasure, a drive format change (HFS+ to APFS), and a clean OS install. We're all a little unsettled regarding this persistence - we've never seen this before. I'm planning on zapping PRAM and resetting SMC to see it this behavior continues with my next batch.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar to this?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Somehow, one of the preferred WiFi networks persists through a drive erasure, a drive format change (HFS+ to APFS), and a clean OS install. We're all a little unsettled regarding this persistence - we've never seen this before.
My first thought is that it might be persisted via iCloud. Is that a possibility?
 



My first thought is that it might be persisted via iCloud. Is that a possibility?
I don't believe so. After the clean High Sierra installation, the only user account is a local machine admin account that isn't iCloud-associated. I accept that iCloud's Keychain Sync transcends being user-centric by adding known WiFi networks to Preferred Networks, which is a machine-centric setting. But with the lack of iCloud connection post OS install, it's probably PRAM/NVRAM, as suggested.
 


I don't believe so. After the clean High Sierra installation, the only user account is a local machine admin account that isn't iCloud-associated. I accept that iCloud's Keychain Sync transcends being user-centric by adding known WiFi networks to Preferred Networks, which is a machine-centric setting. But with the lack of iCloud connection post OS install, it's probably PRAM/NVRAM, as suggested.
It will be interesting if PRAM/NVRAM somehow persists a WiFi network through a "wipe/install." Does not sound like a good security practice, if it does.

Questions in case that's not what's happening:
  • You wrote "random" WiFi networks. Do different machines show different WiFi networks?
  • Does a WiFi analyzer application find any of the random networks broadcasting to the area where you're setting up the Macs?
  • Could what's shown be a WiFi device on your network, say a printer?
  • Have you tried first booting into "Safe Mode" and checking WiFi status?
  • If you set up a Mac in an area (increasingly hard to find, I know) with no WiFi signal, do any networks show up?
 



Reset the NVRAM. It can store preferred network, current network...
Per this recent post:
Howard Oakley/Eclectic Light Co. said:
Firmware, the SMC, NVRAM and T2 chip: reset and maintain

The NVRAM contains settings for:
  • sound output volume,
  • display resolution, and sometimes other display settings,
  • startup volume (disk),
  • any recent kernel panic, to enable a kernel panic log to be constructed,
  • third-party kernel extension policy (High Sierra only),
  • other model-specific features.
If you are curious, you can use the shell command
nvram -p or nvram -xp
to list all the variables which are stored in your Mac’s NVRAM. The output will be formatted slightly differently according to model, and you may find it best to try both, to work out which is more meaningful.

In my iMac17,1, they include:
  • Bluetooth internal controller information,
  • the display configuration,
  • the computer name,
  • EFI recovery information,
  • System audio volume DB,
  • Bluetooth active controller information,
  • System audio output volume,
  • Backlight level,
  • Whether Location Services are enabled,
  • EFI Bluetooth delay setting,
  • Details of the last run of Apple Hardware Test.
When running High Sierra, they should also include the current third-party kernel extension policy.
It is possible preferred network is buried in a listed "setting", but the post quoted above does not point at an explicit applicable setting.

Here's a 2015 post that comes at the issue from a slightly different direction - both posts seem to offer useful information and "how-to."
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
That's an excellent, informative post from a great blog - well worth reading. I had also done a little searching and encountered a different sort of item on the same topic here:
Wikileaks said:
Issues Created by SIP (rootless) in OS X 10.11
With the introduction of System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), Apple has locked down some of the things you can do with the nvram command.

Specifically, you can no longer set any variables that belong to the Efi GUID, like BootOrder. Similarly, you are not allowed to change the NVRAM variable that stores the SIP configuration, csr-active-config.

However, at least as of 10.11.0 (10/2/2015), you can still set the EnableDriverOrder variable.
And this excellent old book offered an example of using Open Firmware to dump NVRAM.
 


That's an excellent, informative post from a great blog - well worth reading. I had also done a little searching and encountered a different sort of item on the same topic here...
Is it possible to get deeper into NVRAM with SIP disabled? If doing that, maybe best offline? Then re-enabling SIP? Is it possible to disable SIP on the new Macs with T2? Mojave beta?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Is it possible to get deeper into NVRAM with SIP disabled? If doing that, maybe best offline?
Recovery mode might be worth exploring:
Bash:
csrutil

usage: csrutil <command>
Modify the System Integrity Protection configuration. All configuration changes apply to the entire machine.
Available commands:

    clear
        Clear the existing configuration. Only available in Recovery OS.
    disable
        Disable the protection on the machine. Only available in Recovery OS.
    enable
        Enable the protection on the machine. Only available in Recovery OS.
    status
        Display the current configuration.
 


Is it possible to disable SIP on the new Macs with T2?
I can confirm SIP can be disabled on the new MacBook Pros with the T2 chip. If you're going to modify anything in the OS, I'd highly recommend changing Startup Security to None, as well, while you're booted in Recovery mode. Otherwise, changes made might prevent your Mac from booting up.
 


As I am about to venture out of Snow Leopard Land into the Bright Shiny New World of OS X 'El Cap,' there's cause for concern - and this question: Is there any way to prevent the OS from auto-installing immediately upon completion of download? I do not want it to install until I want it installed - which is after I'm backed up, etc. Can I perform any kind of action to save the installer as a .dmg file on a thumb drive or an external hard drive, or is that possibility prevented by the OS's .dmg directive(-s)?

If it's possible, please provide steps required to successfully download and then store the El Cap installer as a .dmg until I'm ready to activate the OS. Thanks in advance.
 


As I am about to venture out of Snow Leopard Land into the Bright Shiny New World of OS X 'El Cap,' there's cause for concern - and this question: Is there any way to prevent the OS from auto-installing immediately upon completion of download? I do not want it to install until I want it installed - which is after I'm backed up, etc. Can I perform any kind of action to save the installer as a .dmg file on a thumb drive or an external hard drive, or is that possibility prevented by the OS's .dmg directive(-s)? If it's possible, please provide steps required to successfully download and then store the El Cap installer as a .dmg until I'm ready to activate the OS. Thanks in advance.
The installer is not a true auto-installer. After downloading the install file (which will be located in your Applications folder), it does launch the installer. But it requires an action by the user to continue. When the installer shows up, just quit it, like you would any other application.

This will leave the install file in your Applications folder. You can then move it to somewhere else or save it to an external flash drive or external drive (verification will probably be required).

At this time, you can do all the backup you feel necessary and, when ready to install, move the installer back into Applications (verification again required) and launch. Follow instructions and customize as you see fit.
 


As I am about to venture out of Snow Leopard Land into the Bright Shiny New World of OS X 'El Cap,' there's cause for concern - and this question: Is there any way to prevent the OS from auto-installing immediately upon completion of download? ...
If it's possible, please provide steps required to successfully download and then store the El Cap installer as a .dmg until I'm ready to activate the OS. Thanks in advance.
Once the download completes, the installer will run. Simply quit it.

The next steps may be a problem. You can't create a bootable USB drive installer in Snow Leopard, it requires Mountain Lion or newer. I'll assume you have access to a Mac running Mountain Lion or newer.

To create a bootable USB drive installer follow these steps:
  • In Snow Leopard insert a USB drive than's at least 8GB in size and can be erased.
  • Open Disk Utility in the Utilities folder
  • Select the USB drive's leftmost entry in the list on the left.
  • Click Partition.
  • Change the Volume Scheme from Current to 1 Partition.
  • Make sure the Format is Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  • Click Options... near the bottom, make sure GUID Partition Table is selected, then click OK.
  • Click Apply
  • Quit Disk Utility
  • Rename the USB drive to: Install OS X El Capitan
  • Open Applications and copy Install OS X El Capitan to the USB drive.
  • Drag the USB drive to the Trash to unmount it.
  • Go to the Mac running Mountain Lion or newer and insert the USB drive.
  • Log into an administrator account.
  • Copy Install OS X El Capitan to the Desktop.
  • Open Terminal in the Utilities folder. type in this command and then your password. The command is all on one line. There are both forward and backward slashes.
    sudo ~/Desktop/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan --applicationpath ~/Desktop/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app --nointeraction
  • Be patient, this can take 10-15 minutes on a slow USB drive.
  • Once completed, quit Terminal.
  • Drag the USB drive to the Trash to unmount it.
Here's my recommended way to upgrade:
  • Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone Snow Leopard to an external drive. I recommend doing this to two externals since the internal drive will be erased for the install.
  • Leave one external plugged in, insert the USB with Install OS X El Capitan.
  • Restart, hold down the option key to see a list of bootable drives. Selected Install OS X El Capitan.
  • Run Disk Utility and erase the internal drive.
  • Run the installer to install El Capitan onto the internal.
  • When El Capitan is done, Migrate everything from the external.
Clear as mud?
 


The huge set of steps is because the "createinstallmedia" script can't run on Snow Leopard.

It should be noted that many earlier releases (e.g. 10.7 "Lion") are easier to deal with. They contain a single disk image as a part of the installer package. You can burn a DVD from that image and boot it to run the installer.

But that doesn't work with newer releases like ElCap.
 


As I am about to venture out of Snow Leopard Land into the Bright Shiny New World of OS X 'El Cap,' there's cause for concern - and this question: Is there any way to prevent the OS from auto-installing immediately upon completion of download? I do not want it to install until I want it installed - which is after I'm backed up, etc. Can I perform any kind of action to save the installer as a .dmg file on a thumb drive or an external hard drive, or is that possibility prevented by the OS's .dmg directive(-s)?

If it's possible, please provide steps required to successfully download and then store the El Cap installer as a .dmg until I'm ready to activate the OS. Thanks in advance.

Someone else asked a similar question previously so here's my detailed response on MacInTouch.
 


I was never ever able to create an El Cap installer for my Snow Leopard Mac Minis using the USB stick and Terminal createinstallmedia method, after several tries.

When I went ahead and used a full El Cap installer to upgrade directly from Snow Leopard -> El Capitan, it all went well, and I had zero issues. All apps and documents remained intact, except for a few Rosetta derelicts, which I don't miss as much as I thought I would (or at all).

Then I made an El Cap installer stick, and a Sierra install stick, using the excellent DiskMaker X app which is a godsend. Use it instead.
 


I've finally accepted that 'Snow Leopard,' much as I've enjoyed it, is at EOL [end of life]. Spoke with the Apple Store today, and they sent a link that'll let me download 'El Capitan' instead of 'High Sierra,' which is the only available option in the Apple Store's menu. Some questions:

1. I'm considering emptying an external hard drive and directing 'El Cap' there for install. The rep said install begins immediately upon completion of download. I'm still stuck in the days of downloading a .dmg and then choosing where the install goes before clicking it. It seems prudent to download to the external hard drive, if that's not the case and it's now an 'Immediate Install.' I'd rather have the external hard drive installed on, than the internal hard drive. I don't want Snow Leopard' overwritten on my internal hard drive. I'll do that later if things work out well from the external hard drive install.

2. Is it even possible to do what is outlined above? If so, can I boot from the internal 'Snow Leopard' hard drive and then call up the 'El Cap' system from the external hard drive, or is that a 'no-go'? Do I need to boot from the 'Snow Leopard' external hard drive if that's the OS I want to use, or is switching possible? If Option 2, then I'll need to install my softwares on the external hard drive afterward.

3. What I'm attempting to achieve is an upgrade of OS operability while retaining as much of the functionality that exists in the 'Snow Leopard' version as possible. I already accept that my legacy software requiring 'Rosetta' emulation will be lost in 'El Cap' and 'High Sierra.' I'm trying to arrive at the method that will introduce the smallest degree of interruption to my workflow. For example: I have no clue as to whether Photoshop CS6, Illustrator CS6, or InDesign CS6 will transfer to 'El Cap' successfully. I've read pros and cons about transferring those softwares to 'El Cap' as well as to 'High Sierra.' Don't know which to believe, but I know my browsers (Firefox 48, Citrio, Chrome, Safari 4.1, etc.) are all well past EOL status. It's now at the point that my emails are being affected to the point of becoming inaccessible.

4. At this point, there is no other physical computer (e.g., another Mac) in the picture. It's all internal to the Mac Pro (mid-2010) and the external hard drive. Can I therefore safely conclude the Migration Assistant will not be needed in this 'upgrade-of-sorts'?

5. That's pretty much the situation as it exists. I plan to clean off an existing external hard drive for download / install of 'El Cap,' and then proceed to download and install onto it. I'd like to do a backup using CCC, but have never used it before. Any tips on where to find information about using it correctly to (a) back up files and (b) make a bootable copy is welcome. Dumb question time: How does one re-install the information contained in the CCC backup to the internal hard drive? Is it just a simple 'point 'n click,' or is there a lot more to it I still need to learn about? Thanks again. All replies appreciated.
Here's an easier way:
  1. First make a clone (or two) of your internal drive.
  2. Check to see that your Mac will boot from the clone.
  3. See that a copy of the El Capitan installer is on the clone.
  4. Boot from the clone
  5. Erase the internal drive using Disk Utility.
  6. Run the El Capitan Installer from the booted clone to install on the internal drive.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Then I made an El Cap installer stick, and a Sierra install stick, using the excellent DiskMaker X app which is a godsend. Use it instead.
A few notes on DIskMaker X:
  • It's an AppleScript app that runs the createinstallmedia program.
  • It doesn't run under Path Finder (so quit Path Finder, if you're running it).
  • It will give you some choices and notes about the target device.
  • You'll need to provide admin username/password.
  • It can take some time to do its work and not be terribly informative while it's doing so.
  • When it's done, there will be invisible /Library, /System and /usr directories on the install drive, along with the visible installer app.
  • After creating the bootable installer, plug it into a USB port and restart while holding down the Option key to select it at startup.
 


Here's an easier way:
  1. First make a clone (or two) of your internal drive.
  2. Check to see that your Mac will boot from the clone.
  3. See that a copy of the El Capitan installer is on the clone.
  4. Boot from the clone
  5. Erase the internal drive using Disk Utility.
  6. Run the El Capitan Installer from the booted clone to install on the internal drive.
First thing to do is to se tup a complete backup. My recommendation is to always have 2 backups minimum, one a full clone backup and the other a Time Machine backup (this can contain the original Snow Leopard and continue on with new updated OS if desired).

Once that is done, then you can run the OS installer from the newer system, but if you are going to be running CS6 InDesign, I would not recommend any system past 10.10.x, as all newer OS's cause issues with InDesign projects when they are of large size and cause multiple crashes of InDesign (with out of memory notices).

I would also recommend doing a though cleaning of your current system. Manually, I clean out all of the caches in the 3 areas, log files and also go through prefs folder and delete any app prefs that you no longer use. Also any apps that still use the older PowerPC code will need to be replaced. I also prefer to run DiskWarrior software to check your boot drive for directory issues.

Once all this is done, then run the installer OS. Note: CS6 Photoshop & Illustrator do not have issues with the newer OS's yet, unless you upgrade to High Sierra 10.13.x and its new APFS file system, then they will not run.

And don't get me started on the new APFS; it is definitely not ready for prime time. Biggest issue is there are no tools to repair an APFS volume if something goes wrong, and this is something Apple is responsible for by not providing developers the info needed to get it working. So, Apple if you would listen, please provide the tech info for developers, so they can make their programs work for us.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
...if you are going to be running CS6 InDesign, I would not recommend any system past 10.10.x, as all newer OS's cause issues with InDesign projects when they are of large size and cause multiple crashes of InDesign (with out of memory notices).
Are others also seeing problems with InDesign CS6 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra?

A family member, who just got a new MacBook Pro at work, uses InDesign heavily, and it's been miserable on the new laptop, crashing frequently, after working fine on an earlier retina MacBook Pro. (And the organization doesn't want to move to Adobe Creative Cloud nor pay for it.)
 


Dang! So many replies and so much great expertise! Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge. In the interim, I realised I have a spare 750[GB] internal hard drive in my Mac G5 (pre-Intel) running 'Tiger.' I can unmount that, re-mount it in the 'Snow Leopard' Mac, and install 'El Cap' onto that drive. (There's also a G3 with Mac OS 9.2 in the room, but I'll leave that one alone.)

I greatly appreciate the heads-up about going past 10.10.x with InDesign too, since that's what I'm using for all my book layouts. Does the same warning apply to 'Sierra,' or is it 'High Sierra'-specific? Thanks again to all!
 


Dang! ... I have a spare 750[GB] internal hard drive in my Mac G5 (pre-Intel) running 'Tiger.' I can unmount that, re-mount it in the 'Snow Leopard' Mac, and install 'El Cap' onto that drive. ...
Check if the old drive was formatted using the old APM (Apple Partition Map). If so, to boot El Capitan it needs to be reformatted/partitioned to use the current GUID partition map. This will wipe out all the data on it, so you may need an intermediate drive to copy off the data to, before formatting, and copy back the data after formatting.
 


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