Downgrade Mac OS X Lion

September 23, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you recently upgraded your Mac, you might be finding it tough to come to terms with the new version of OS X. Version 10.7, more commonly known as Lion, has a few revisions to the user interface that haven’t proven as popular as previous innovations from Apple. Additionally, the operating system has apparently developed some bugs.

Downgrade Mac OS X Lion

Of course, if you’re using Lion and you previously had Snow Leopard installed on your computer, then you don’t have to put up with the new version of Apple’s popular operating system. Instead, you can downgrade Mac OS X Lion to the previous version and enjoy traditional OS X-style usability without compromising it for iPad-style application launching and other finger-based gestures.

So, how can you downgrade from Mac OS X Lion to Snow Leopard? It all depends on what you have or haven’t done previously, and what discs you happen to have in your possession…

(Before proceeding, make sure you save any data that you have generated in Mac OS X Lion! In this situation, don’t backup data with Time Machine, however, use a third party system or make your archives manually.)

Downgrade with Time Machine

A safety-conscious Mac OS X user should be aware that it is important to run backups of their operating system and vital files regularly. The best way of doing this is with Time Machine, the useful backup system included in Mac OS X that allows you to backup data to an internal partition or external hard disk drive.

Before upgrading to Mac OS X Lion, you should have made a full backup of your system. If so, you can get this back by switching on your Mac and holding ALT after the boot tone. In the boot options menu, select Restore HD and wait for your Mac to reboot, then select Restore from Time Machine Backup.

Any further steps that are required will be explained to you on your Mac’s monitor, and once restarted Mac OS X Lion will be replaced by Snow Leopard!

No Backup? What About an Installer Disk?

You don’t have to have a backup to revert to Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Rather than overwriting the new operating system with an old backup, why not simply re-install Snow Leopard from the system discs? You can do this quite easily, although note the warning above – don’t use Time Machine to archive your data as restoring it will revert you back to OS X Lion after the procedure is completed.

Get started by rebooting your Mac and holding Command + R to open the Recovery HD. Open Utilities > Disk Utility and open the Erase tab where you should find Mac OS Extended (Journaled); click on the Erase button.

Your system will then be ready for you to insert the system discs and reinstall Snow Leopard from scratch!

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