Need to Download Mac OS X Snow Leopard or Leopard? ADC Has It
Mac users who have older hardware laying around which are unable to run modern versions of OS X may be relieved to discover that Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) are available to download directly from Apple. These versions of Mac OS X are over half a decade outdated and are now unsupported, making them appropriate for advanced users and those who require specific legacy software support within a virtual environment or on appropriately aged Mac hardware.
Downloading these prior releases of Mac OS X requires an appropriate Apple Developer login that you’d get with joining the Mac Developer program, and are otherwise inaccessible from free developer accounts or the general public. System requirements for legacy versions of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard are quite basic, and the releases run fine in virtual machines as well. We’ll touch on install methods with links to appropriate tutorials in a moment.
Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) Direct Download Links
The following two disk images are the complete installer DVD in DMG format. The downloads come directly from Apple, and require an ADC login to access.
- Download Mac OS X 10.6 10a432 DVD image (direct link from Apple)
- Download Mac OS X 10.5 9a581 DVD image (direct link from Apple)
Once you get the dmg files you can either burn them to a DVD to make an installer disc, create a Snow Leopard bootable install drive from them, or run Snow Leopard within a virtual machine like VirtualBox or VMWare. The virtual machine approach continues to work with all modern versions of OS X, letting Snow Leopard run atop Mavericks and Yosemite.
For running on native hardware, the system requirements for Mac OS X Snow Leopard are quite basic, including an Intel processor, 1GB of RAM, and 5GB of disk space.
It’s very important to note that new Macs can not run Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Only older hardware can run older versions of Mac OS X in general, attempting to install Snow Leopard on something like a new Retina MacBook Pro will fail and is not worth attempting.
If you do download and install Mac OS X Snow Leopard, you can continue to obtain combo updates all the way through Mac OS X 10.6.8 through Apple Support, and they should still be available through the Software Update mechanism on the older Mac OS X release as well.
Thanks to @stroughtonsmith for pointing out the legacy software ADC links on Twitter.
I don’t have an ADC Login but still want Mac OS X Snow Leopard, what should I do?
For Mac users without a membership to the Apple Developer program, paying the $99 annual fee makes to access the downloads makes little sense. Instead, you can still opt to purchase a physical installer DVD of Mac OS X Snow Leopard from Apple for a cost of around $20. Whether or not an old unsupported release of Mac OS X like Snow Leopard is worth $20 when all newer versions like OS X Lion, OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Mavericks, and OS X Yosemite are free and downloadable directly from the Mac App Store is debatable, but the old system software could be appropriate for certain environments where the newer releases of OS X are unsupported on specific Macs, or where a virtual machine of the older OS is required.