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  1. Computer Skills
  2. OS X
Computers

Installing Newer Apple Software on an Older Mac

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

With Apple's App Store becoming the easiest, fastest, and safest way to install apps on your Mac, the need for installing software from a physical medium like DVDs is starting to become a thing of the past. However from time to time you may still find yourself needing to install an application from a CD or DVD that you have. Say for example if you have a retail version of an Apple product that has since been moved solely to the App Store. If you’ve ever tried to install a newer application on an older Apple computer, you may have run into some problems. In this tutorial I’ll be showing you two ways you can try that will allow you to install newer applications on an older Apple computer.



Installing Newer Apple Software on an Older Mac

Introduction:

When I purchased my MacBook Pro in 2009, the version of OS X it shipped with was 10.5 Leopard. I updated to 10.6 Snow Leopard, and finally to 10.8 Mountain Lion. I did a clean install of Mountain Lion on my MacBook Pro, but the iLife application suite that came standard with 10.5 Leopard has since been moved to the Apple App Store as individual downloads. While the prices for the individual apps are very reasonable, you may be hesitant to purchase them when you already have a legal OEM copy that came with your Mac, like I was.

I have unfortunately lost the iLife Install disc that came with my MacBook Pro, but I do have the disc that came with my 2011 model iMac. I attempted to install Garagband from the iLife disk that shipped with my iMac, as I wasn’t using them on that machine and the End User License Agreement allows for multiple installs for a single user on all the different machines you own. As I was running the installer, I ran into this error, telling me that I was unable to install the software on my machine:

The Package Installer Will Not Allow You To Install On A Machine That Is Not Included In The Approved Hardware List It Checks
The Package Installer Will Not Allow You To Install On A Machine That Is Not Included In The Approved Hardware List It Checks

Doing some research I found that this is because the installer package is checking my MacBook Pro’s Model Identifier number against a list of approved hardware models as part of Apple quality control. Because the iLife disc shipped with a newer iMac, which in turn has a newer Model Identifier number, I am seemingly unable to install the software on my older MacBook Pro. And because I haven't purchased Garagband through the App Store with my Apple ID, I would have to purchase it new if I couldn’t install if from my OEM CD that shipped with my iMac.


Manual Install

Fortunately there is an easy work around for this problem. The Installer package is checking the Model Identifier number of my MacBook Pro against the list of approved hardware Models, but if you look at the size of the Installer Package by selecting the package, right clicking and selecting Show Info, or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Command+I, you can see that the installer package doesn’t actually contain all the installable files. This means that if you can bypass the installer package, and thus bypass the Model Identifier check, you will be able to install the software you have on disc and not have to repurchase it in the Apple App Store.

If you show the hidden files of OS X by using a third party app such as InvisibliX, or by typing in a terminal command, you will see that the actual installer packages are contained in a hidden folder on the disc.

The Individual Package Installers Are Contained In a Hidden Folder On The Disc
The Individual Package Installers Are Contained In a Hidden Folder On The Disc
All The Packages For The Various Applications Are Available To Manually Install
All The Packages For The Various Applications Are Available To Manually Install

If you click on an individual installer, you will then be able get passed the welcome page and be able to install the application as normal. This is the easiest way be able to install your software on an Apple computer that is not in the list of approved models that the installer package checks against. Keep in mind that you will have to manually install all the packages that the installer package would otherwise install for you behind the scenes.

You Will Need To Manually Install All The Packages For The Application You Are Wanting To Install
You Will Need To Manually Install All The Packages For The Application You Are Wanting To Install

Using Third Party Applications

Another way that you can do this process a bit more streamlined is to use a third party app, such as Pacifist. Pacifist is an application that will inspect an installer package and allow you to do various tasks, which include installing all or individual parts of an install bundle. This is more in line with the way a traditional Package Installer works, in that it will install all the associated packages for you.

Using A Third Party App Like Pacifist Will Streamline The Install Process By Installing All The Associated Packages For A Selected Application
Using A Third Party App Like Pacifist Will Streamline The Install Process By Installing All The Associated Packages For A Selected Application

Either way you decide to install the applications, manually or using a third party app like Pacifist, once they are installed on your machine, you will then be able to download any available updates that are available for them through the App Store or by running Software Update by clicking on Apple > Software Update... In the Menu Bard just like any other application on your Mac.

Once You Have Installed The Application You Can Run Software Update To Download Available Updates From The App Store
Once You Have Installed The Application You Can Run Software Update To Download Available Updates From The App Store

Conclusion

Having a hard copy of your applications is a good way to make sure you can reinstall your apps, but as newer hardware comes out, you may find yourself unable to install the apps you already own. In this tutorial I have shown you two ways to get around the Model Identifier check that Apple has put into its OEM software discs; by manually installing the hidden application packages, or by using a third party app such as Pacifist.

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