Apple - Is it possible to run Snow Leopard on a LATE 2011 MacBook Pro?

I'd like to confirm that it IS possible to run Snow Leopard on a late 2011 MBP 15" without ANY FLAW although AppleCare technicians told me that it is not possible ! I did it on mine (CTO, 2.2 GHz i7) bought in fev. 2012 and had not the slightest issue since.

But from Apple side it is NOT recommended and certainly NOT supported . - But hey, my love and I have some scientific software and also Adobe products that only run smoothly on Snow Leopard and all our other Mac's in the family are on SL so I had to give it a try to stay productive. And personally, I'm not really happy with Lion, but that's an other story. - For me it's just roaring and definitely not the 'King' of the MacOs as the name suggests...

So here is what I did :

  • As I couldn't lay my hands on a original MBP 15" Install-DVD from last summer (10.6.7) which should allow you to boot the MBP15" directly from it, I did a clean 10.6.7 install with my iMac 27" (iMac11,1 - i7 2.8 GHz) on an external hard drive starting from a 10.6.3 iMac install DVD and applying all the updates up to 10.6.7.
  • Then I formatted my MBP internal drive in target disk mode and created 3 partitions (SL, Lion, Bootcamp).
  • Using CarbonCopyCloner I cloned the clean SL installation one the first partition of the MBP, then disconnected the laptop and booted in SL.
  • There was one little glitch with the splash screen resolution (not full screen) but nothing serious.
  • Now I ran the 10.6.8 combo update that I downloaded before cloning and did all the software updates and another reboot.
  • That done SL runs now without any problem - not one incompatibility issue in one month (would have been surprised because there were no major hardware changes from early to late 2011 MBP15").
  • As next step I rebooted the MBP holding the alt-command-R keys to start from the Apple servers and did a new Internet install of Lion on the second partition.
  • And last I installed Windows 7 on the third partition reformatting it using NTFS (be careful to choose the right partition - by the way there is a fourth partition : the rescue partition created by Lion you don't want to touch). Once Win7 installed I ran the Bootcamp Assistant and did all updates.

And so now we have a nice triple boot MBP15" allowing us to use all the software we need without the slightest problem. You could probably even try a quadruple boot adding a Linux partition...

But be careful! I wouldn't bet that this method works for all new MBP and MBA so you want to make sure your model ran with SL back in summer 2011 and had no major hardware changes before trying! You can also test booting it first from an external drive with the clean install on it.

I neither do know if my method worked because the iMac 27" and the MBP15" both have a i7 Quad Core.

that's it, have fun!

Snow Leopard could run on early 2011 machines because those machines were originally released with Snow Leopard.

However, since yours is a Late 2011 model, a build of Snow Leopard that is compatible with your machine's hardware has never been engineered and thus would not work.

If you look at the kbase article, you can see that all the Late 2011 model MacBooks Pro came with 10.7.2. Snow Leopard would not know what to do with these machines.

Here's one page which claims that Snow Leopard can be installed on a Late 2011 MacBook Pro by using the install discs of a matching Mid-2011 model (follow the link to the full page for more detailed instructions):

After getting fed up with OSX Lion and the way it handles network shares and attached drives, I decided to look into putting Snow Leopard on my (new) Late 2011 Macbook Pro. Apple said it was impossible due to lack of driver support, but I did not believe them. After making a checksheet of OSX disc releases with MacBook Pro models, I realized that the discs shipped with the Mid-2011 MacBook Pros would boot on my laptop (OSX version 10.6.7). (These discs are rare, and you MUST have the one that accompanies your MacBook Pro model, e.g. a 13 inch MBP must have the 13 inch discs, etc). Finding these discs is the tough part. After finding the discs, just due what you would normally do to install OSX.


Also, this article may be helpful: “How to install Snow Leopard on a brand-new Lion-based Mac.”

As pointed out by Matt, installing Snow Leopard on the Late 2011 MacBook Pro is not officially supported by Apple, so there's no guarantee it will work. If you really need to be able to run Snow Leopard, you may be better off buying an older MacBook Pro; either second-hand or a refurbished one directly from Apple. The US online store's “Refurbished” page currently lists a number of MacBook Pro offers that were “Originally released February 2011.” These will come with Lion pre-installed, but will presumably still be guaranteed Snow Leopard-compatible (but ask Apple before buying just to make sure).