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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Troubleshooting Tips and Hints: Installing Software

Most Mac OS X installations go quite smoothly. As with any OS, however, problems can occur. The following covers most of the things that may go wrong, as well as what to do to get things right again.

Can't start up from Mac OS X Install CD

Some users are unable to get the Mac OS X Install disc to act as a startup disc for their Mac, getting the following error message instead: "Startup Disk was unable to select the install disc as the startup disk. (-2)." In other cases, the disc simply stalls at some point in the startup sequence, with or without displaying an error message. In the most extreme cases, the Mac drops into Open Firmware.

Problems like these are often caused by defective discs. However, if the disc fails in some Macs but works in others, a defect is not the likely cause. In one case, the culprit was a third-party CD-ROM drive that replaced the internal drive that came with the Mac. The drive worked in general but not for the Mac OS X Install CD. In this case, if you were up to the task, you could reinstall the original CD drive and see if that worked. Or you could borrow or buy an external CD drive and try that.

By the way, if you installed an internal CD or DVD drive, you need to be careful about its settings. In particular, the drive, which is an ATA device, should be set for the master position, not the slave mode position. Users have reported that drives in the slave position do not work in Mac OS X. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about here, don't worry—unless you decide to install an internal CD or DVD drive and start having problems. At that point, check my Sad Macs book, the documentation that came with the drive, or Apple's support Web site for more help.

In any case, because starting up from the disc is a requirement for installing Mac OS X, you cannot ignore symptoms like those described above. Apple advises that you follow these steps if you're unable to start up from a Mac OS X Install disc:

  1. Inspect the Mac OS X disc. Verify that the shiny side of the disc is relatively clean (no particles, smudges, or other abnormalities).
  2. Make sure that current firmware is installed. Your computer may require a firmware update for best Mac OS X compatibility. Check Apple's Web site for possible upgrades.
  3. Disconnect peripheral devices connected to your computer except for the Apple keyboard and mouse, including USB devices, FireWire devices, SCSI devices, and PCMCIA cards.
  4. Remove third-party hardware upgrades such as third-party memory (RAM) and third-party PCI cards.

After doing all of this, try starting up from the disc again. If it still fails, especially if the Mac drops into Open Firmware, you probably have a damaged CD/DVD. Contact Apple to replace the disc.

Cannot launch Installer successfully

If you're running Mac OS X from your hard drive rather than from a CD/DVD, you may find that the Installer application refuses to launch. Most likely, this will be a general issue that will occur no matter what software package file you attempt to use. In such cases, try the following until one works:

  1. Quit all open applications. Make sure Classic is disabled as well. Try again. Do not attempt to perform any other actions on the Mac while the install is proceeding.
  2. Restart the Mac and try again.
  3. Disconnect all peripheral hardware devices, restart, and try the installation again.
  4. Use Disk Utility's First Aid (or a similar third-party utility) to check whether disk repairs are needed.
  5. Use Disk Utility's First Aid tab to repair disk permissions on the volume.
  6. Create a new administrative user, and install from the new user's account. If the installation succeeds, you can delete the newly created user account when you're finished.
  7. Reinstall the Installer application itself, either by extracting it from the Mac OS X package (via Pacifist) or from a backup of a working copy, or by reinstalling Mac OS X altogether.

Cannot select a volume to install

When installing software via the Installer utility, the Installer may launch successfully, but when you get to the Installer's Select a Destination pane, you may find one of the following problems:

  • The volume that you intended to use to install your selected software is not displayed.
  • The volume icon is displayed but dimmed, so it cannot be selected.
  • The volume icon is displayed, but a Stop Sign symbol with an exclamation point overlaps the volume icon, indicating that you cannot install the software on that volume.

Typically, a text message appears lower in the window, explaining the reason for the prohibition (see Figure 3.8, earlier in this chapter). The message, however, is not always very informative. One common explanation, for example, states, "You cannot install {name of software} on this volume. This volume does not meet the requirements for this update." Another reads, "You cannot install this software on this machine."

The end result in all of these cases is that the Install button is not available for the volume you wish to use. Here are some potential causes and solutions.

Make sure you meet the minimum requirements

The read-me file that accompanies the software to be installed should supply the minimum requirements. For starters:

  • Make sure you have at least the minimum installed RAM and free hard-drive space for the installation to proceed.
  • You may need to have certain software installed for the current install to proceed. As an obvious example, you can't install any updates to Mac OS X 10.4 until 10.4 itself is installed. The solution here is to go back and install the needed software and then return to the problem installation. It should now work. Similarly, for update .pkg files, make sure that the required prior version of Mac OS X is on the destination volume. You can check your current version from the About This Mac window, which you access from the Apple menu.

Reinstall and downgrade problems

If you want to reinstall the same version of software that already exists on your drive (perhaps because you believe the software on your drive is corrupted), or to downgrade to an older version of the software, the Installer is not likely to allow it. If this happens (and the software to be installed is a single application), drag the application and its receipt file (in /Library/Receipts) to the Trash. Now try again.

To do this for an installation of or update to Mac OS X itself, you will need to do an Archive and Install back to the version that came on your Mac OS X Install disc, and then re-update from there.

External drives

Mac OS X often will not install on an external SCSI drive. It also has problems installing or booting from some external FireWire and USB drives.

The problem is sometimes due to the specific external drive. In such cases, the solution may be to get a firmware update for the drive or to abandon the drive altogether. Other times, the problem may be with the Mac OS X software, requiring an update from Apple before the drive will work. Check with the drive vendor for exact recommendations. The drive vendor's name is available from the Apple System Profiler listing. Otherwise, check with Apple's support pages or for the latest details as to which drives work with Mac OS X.

Note: If you can't install Mac OS X on a drive and/or start up from a drive with Mac OS X installed, you can still use the drive as a non-startup volume.

Update disc

If the drive is listed but its icon is dimmed so that you cannot select it, make sure you're not using an Update disc and trying to install the OS on a volume that does not have a prerequisite version of Mac OS X already installed.

If you have moved, deleted, or modified files in the /System/Library folder, it's possible that the Installer may not recognize the OS as the correct version, even if it is. In this case, unless you can move everything back correctly, you will likely need to start over with a reinstall from a full Mac OS X Install disc.


Apple's iPod (except for the iPod Shuffle) is basically a FireWire hard drive. In principle, if you have a FireWire Dock connector cable, you can install Mac OS X on the drive and use the iPod as a portable emergency startup drive. To do so, you must enable iPod's FireWire Disk Use option, which you access via the iPod options in iTunes.

However, you may not be able to install Mac OS X on an iPod via the Mac OS X Install disc. Exact symptoms may vary, but in my case, for the Jaguar Install CD, the Installer utility simply refused to display the iPod's icon in the Select a Destination pane. When starting from the Panther Install CD, however, the iPod showed up just fine. If you do have problems here, you should still be able to work around the glitch by using a backup utility (such as Carbon Copy Cloner) to copy a preinstalled bootable copy of Mac OS X from another drive onto an iPod, though this is not as convenient as using the Install disc.

Note: After installing Mac OS X from an Install disc, installing further minor updates (for example, from 10.3 to 10.3.1) should work without any problems.

Note: After installing Mac OS X software on an iPod, you may not be able to update the iPod software.

Warning: Apple warns against using the iPod as a full-time startup disc, as the hard drive inside the iPod can overheat when used in this manner; I would recommend using your iPod as a startup disc only for short periods of time—for example, as an emergency utility drive.

Checking console.log

If an update installation (not a full installation done when booting from a CD or DVD) fails, despite checking all of the above, launch the Console utility and check the Console log file that appears. The most recent entries are likely to refer to what went wrong when the installation failed. The information may give you a clue as to how to solve the problem. For example, I've seen several reports where the problem made reference to a preferences file on the drive. Deleting the named preferences file and retrying the updater led to success.

Check the Web

Check the Web for late-breaking information about problems and solutions not covered here. Also see this Apple Knowledge Base document:

Java Update 1.4.2 will not install

Many users have found that they are unable to install the Java Update 1.4.2 update. The easy fix for this problem is to delete the QuickTimeJavaUpdate.pkg receipt from /Library/Receipts and then attempt the installation again.

Software Update does not list or install an update

If you believe a software update is available (perhaps you read about it on a Web site), but Software Update does not list it, you have several options:

  • Make sure you have a working Internet connection.
  • If you get a "server busy" error or are otherwise unable to get Software Update to work as expected, there's probably a problem at Apple's end. Try again later (ideally in a day or so).
  • If you get a message that says, "Your software is up to date," it may be that the desired software cannot be downloaded via Software Update. Apple sometimes provides certain updates only through its Web site. Or it may simply be that the update is not available; try again the next day to see if it is now listed.
  • If multiple users are logged in via Fast User Switching, do not attempt to switch to another account while Software Update is running. Ideally, log out of all but one account prior to running Software Update.
  • Make sure the file you want is really newer than the one you already have. For example, if you're trying to obtain Mac OS X 10.3.8, make sure you don't already have Mac OS X 10.3.9 installed. To check the current installed version, select About This Mac from the Apple menu.
  • If the problem occurs because you reinstalled an older version of Mac OS X and now want to reinstall subsequent updates (that you had previously installed), check to see if the receipt files for those subsequent updates are still in the /Library/Receipts folder. If so, remove the receipt files and try again.
  • If you recently downloaded and installed software via Software Update, try running Software Update again. The desired software may appear only after the initial software has been installed.

    As noted earlier in the chapter, Software Update in Panther and later automatically checks for newer updates after it completes an installation, assuming you chose to install the software rather than just download it.

  • The software may not be needed for your computer: For example, a DVD Player update may not appear if you do not have a DVD drive.
  • Needed hardware may not be accessible. For a PowerBook with a removable DVD drive, for example, installing a DVD Player update will not work if the DVD drive is not currently inserted in the expansion bay.
  • Make sure the software is in its original location. In general, when Mac OS X software is installed (such as to the Applications folder), it is best to leave it where it is. Moving it to a different folder can cause problems when updating the application or when you later try to use it.

In some cases Software Update may list an update but fail to successfully install it. You may get an error message such as one that says, "Some of the checked updates couldn't be installed. Software Update could not expand the package correctly." In the Software Update window, an exclamation-point icon will appear to the left of the name of each update that was not installed. If this happens, remove any package and receipt files for prior versions of the problem software (prior updates to iTunes, for example, if that is what you are updating) from the /Library/Packages and /Library/Receipts folders. Then try again. Otherwise, choose Download Only, to have Software Update just download the update package to your Desktop. Then double-click the package to launch Installer, which will hopefully succeed where Software Update failed.

If problems persist, your last resort is to completely reinstall Mac OS X.

Software Update quits unexpectedly

In a very specific incident, Panther versions 10.3.0 through 10.3.4 can exhibit an issue where the Software Update application quits unexpectedly if an update includes a license agreement (the software license agreement that sometimes pops up and requires you to "agree" before the update will install). According to Apple, the cause of this bug is the third-party Times RO font. You can work around this bug by deleting the font and then restarting; however, an easier fix, especially if you need this font, is to download the Mac OS X 10.3.5 (or later) Update from Apple's Web site and install it manually.

Installed Updates does not list previously installed updates

The Installed Updates list in the Software Update System Preferences pane may not list updates you previously selected and installed. You may encounter a similar problem in the log file maintained by Software Update. If this happens, try the following:

  • Make sure you really installed the update via Software Update. If you installed an update by downloading it from Apple's Web site or by using Software Update's Download Only option, the Installed Updates pane will not list it. This pane only lists updates actually installed by Software Update.
  • Check the permissions settings for the relevant log file (Software Update.log in /Library/Logs). In Panther and later, you (that is, your user name) should be the Owner, and admin should be the Group. Owner should have Read & Write access. Group and Others should have Read Only access. Note that in Jaguar, the owner is System, and both System and admin have Read & Write access. If your settings are different, edit them to match those described here.
  • If the problem began immediately after you upgraded to Tiger, open the Software Update.log file in a text editor. Delete all lines referring to updates installed prior to installing Tiger, and then save the file.Once you've done this, Installed Updates should list updates correctly.

Figure 3.26 The Installed Updates pane of the Software Update System Preferences pane.

Install and Keep Package option doesn't keep

I've found that if I use the Install and Keep Package option in Software Update—which should install an update and then save the update package in /Library/Receipts—and there's already an update package in the Receipts and/or Packages folder with the same name as the update being installed, the new update package typically won't be saved. For example, I saw this issue with iTunes and AirPort software updates. This could be prevented if Apple would provide unique names to all update packages; in the meantime, to ensure that this problem does not prevent future packages from being saved, I've started checking on packages saved to /Library/Receipts, and if their names do not include version numbers, I add them.

Installation is interrupted

Whether you're attempting to install Mac OS X from the Install disc(s) or installing updates at some later point, the process may bog down during the installation. Here are some common causes and cures:

  • If you are using Mac OS X Install CDs, rather than a single Install DVD, you will reach a point where you're asked to restart after the first CD has finished its work. However, a problem may occur where the request for a second or third CD never comes. If software on these CDs is not needed (because you removed the relevant options via a Custom Install), this is expected, and all is well. However, if the CD really is needed, the restart typically fails at this point, though it may sometimes proceed without asking for the second CD. In either case, the needed software is not installed.

    There appears to be more than one possible cause for this. In some cases, when trying to install Mac OS X on an external FireWire drive, there's a conflict between Mac OS X and the drive—in which case the solution is to hope that an upgrade to Mac OS X or the drive's firmware will fix the problem. If not, you won't be able to use the drive to install Mac OS X.

    On one occasion, the problem was with the Mac OS X Install CDs themselves. When another set of the CDs was tried, the problem did not occur.

  • In general, when installing updates while running Mac OS X from your hard drive, turn off any settings in Energy Saver and Screen Saver System Preferences that automatically put the Mac to sleep or shift to a screen saver. Otherwise, the onset of sleep could halt the update process.
  • If an installation of a Mac OS X update via Software Update gets interrupted, such as by a power failure, get the stand-alone version of the Installer—via either Software Update's Download Only command or Apple's Web site. Use the downloaded and saved Installer package to try again to install the update. Note: If you try to use Software Update, it may report incorrectly that you no longer need the update, in which case deleting the receipt file for the update (in /Library/Receipts) may fix the problem. On the other hand, with a bit of luck, Software Update may recognize that an installation was partially completed and pick up the process where it left off.
  • When using Software Update, if you get an error message that says an update "could not be installed," choose Download Only to get the standalone updater and try again. If you're already using a stand-alone updater and it too "unexpectedly quits" or otherwise reports an "error while installing," run the installation yet again. There is a good chance it will now work. If not, the update file itself may be corrupted. In this case, download a new copy of the updater and run the install again. If this fails, log in as a different user and try the install again.
  • If the update fails at the point where it says, "optimizing drive," don't worry too much—you've already completed the actual installation process. The only problem may be that you might have slower overall performance than you otherwise would get. To fix this, trying running the Installer again, or run the /update_prebinding command in Terminal.
  • In general, if an installation fails, open one of the relevant log files (located in /var/log), either in Console or a text editor. These logs will often indicate the nature of the problem.

Software installs but fails to work

In some cases, a Mac OS X update may install successfully (or at least appear to), but after you restart (if necessary) or attempt to use the new software, you discover problems that had not occurred previously. In the worst case, you may not be able to start up at all. The advice that follows focuses on installing Mac OS X updates, but much of it applies to installing any software update in Mac OS X (including third-party updates).


Most often, problems with updates can be traced back to a bug in either the package file used for the installation or the software that was installed. If such a bug affects all Macs, it would almost certainly be discovered before the package file's release—which is exactly why most such problems affect only a small subset of users (ones who have a particular, often older, Mac model, for example). Unfortunately, sometimes the only fix is to go back to the previous version of Mac OS X and wait for Apple to release an update that corrects the problem. Otherwise, you may find a work-around posted to Web sites (such as shortly after the update is released.

The unfortunate truth is that Mac OS X has become so complex that whenever Apple releases a new update, at least some users will report having problems with it that they did not have before. Some (although by no means all) of these reported problems are due to bugs remaining in or introduced in the update. Common post-update problems include an inability to start up the Mac, date and time not being maintained correctly, external volumes not being recognized, an inability to maintain dial-up connections, an increase in kernel panics, an inability to add new printers or print to existing ones, wake-from-sleep crashes, and more.

Rather than wait for specific causes of and solutions to these bugs to be worked out (assuming that ever happens), your best bet is to try to avoid the problem in the first place. Here's some standard advice for avoiding these frustrations:

  • Use the Combo updater. If you're running the Mac OS X version immediately prior to the current update (for example, you're running Mac OS X 10.4.2 and updating to 10.4.3), the update package you are using especially if you downloaded it via Software Update—typically works only with that (immediately prior) version. The alternative, if you're running an even older version of Mac OS X, is to use a separate Combo updater file (as discussed earlier in this chapter).

    However, you can use the Combo updater for 10.4.3 even if you're already running 10.4.2, for example. Though doing so may be of little benefit over running the Delta or Patch 10.4.3 update, some users report better success with Combo updaters, even in these situations.

    What's more likely to help avoid upgrade problems is to start over and re-upgrade with the Combo updater. For example, if your Mac OS X Install disc contains version 10.4.0, reinstall Mac OS X from the disc, using the Archive and Install feature, and then run the Combo updater to get to 10.4.3. If this seems like a hassle—which it is—wait to see if you have problems after updating via the non-Combo updater, and use this method only if problems occur.

    In such cases, it is also recommended that you download the updater and run it from your hard drive rather than let Software Update do the install.

  • Repair Disk Permissions. Immediately after installing a Mac OS X update and restarting, access Disk Utility's First Aid and select Repair Disk Permissions. This is known to prevent a number of symptoms, including applications' failing to launch, that might otherwise occur.Note: Occasionally, repairing disk permissions may cause a problem itself, especially with third-party software that does not follow Apple's rules for setting permissions via an Installer. Therefore, some experts recommend not routinely repairing permissions. Rather, do it only if you have a problem that you hope it may fix. Personally, I have never made a problem worse by repairing permissions. If you have any symptoms that you think may be permissions related, it's worth giving it a try.
  • Delete cache and preferences files. If the problem is specific to a single application, delete any preferences or cache files associated with that application. You may also want to use a utility, such as Northern Softworks' Tiger Cache Cleaner ( or Maintain's Cocktail (, to more generally delete potentially corrupt preferences and cache files.

    If all of this fails, do a search for files that include the name of the problem application, and delete any that show up. Then reinstall the application and re-update it as needed.

    If none of these suggestions help, check the sections that follow for more specific advice. Otherwise, your main option is to seek a solution elsewhere (such as a support Web site). If everything you try fails, you probably have a bug that was introduced in the new update or a conflict between the update and installed third-party software. If the problem is with third-party software, either remove it or upgrade to a compatible version (if one exists). For bugs in the OS itself, you'll have to learn to live with them (at least until Apple provides a fix) or downgrade back to the previous version of Mac OS X.

Startup problems

If your Mac crashes immediately after installing a Mac OS X update or upgrade, consider the following:

  • SCSI. On older Macs with built-in SCSI ports, or newer Macs with SCSI PCI cards, the most common cause of these crashes is SCSI devices. SCSI refers to a technology for connecting peripheral devices, such as hard drives, to a Mac. No current Mac comes with a SCSI port as part of the logic board; instead, all new Macs use USB and/or FireWire as alternatives. The main places where you will still find SCSI are older Macs and newer Power Macs that have a separate SCSI card installed in one of the PCI slots. In some cases, the SCSI PCI card itself is incompatible with Mac OS X and may lead to startup problems. Fixing this problem may require a firmware upgrade of the card or, at the very least, a software driver upgrade.

    In other cases, the problem may be with a device connected to the card or the way in which multiple devices are chained together, mainly involving what's called SCSI termination. This term refers to how SCSI devices are connected in a chain when you have more than one device. Mac OS X is much more sensitive to SCSI termination, so technically incorrect setups that did not cause a problem in Mac OS 9 may cause a problem in Mac OS X.

    Check with the card's vendor (or Apple, if your Mac came with a SCSI card) for specific recommendations. Apple has an update for its Apple Ultra Wide SCSI PCI card (; you need this update if you intend to use the card with Mac OS X.

  • Memory. In some cases, a Mac will not start up in Mac OS X due to a problem with a third-party memory (RAM) module. If you get a black screen immediately at startup, I would suspect this problem. To check, remove the extra installed memory (especially memory not purchased from Apple) and try again. If startup succeeds, contact your memory vendor about getting a replacement.
  • Firmware. A firmware upgrade alters a special modifiable component of the hardware on the Mac's logic board. Before installing Mac OS X (especially if you have an older Mac), make sure your computer has the latest firmware installed. Failure to update firmware prior to installing Mac OS X, or even just a newer version of Mac OS X, may lead to serious problems, including startup failures.If you plan on erasing your drive before installing Mac OS X, do the firmware update before erasing.

Note: After Panther was released, a problem was discovered in which certain external FireWire drives could get hopelessly corrupted if they were mounted when restarting or shutting down from an internal startup volume running Panther. The primary solution is to upgrade the firmware for these drives. (You get the updates from the drive vendor, not Apple.)

Relocation problems

Sometimes an update installation works correctly only if the prior version of the software is in its correct default installed location—especially with older versions of Mac OS X. In these cases, the problem is that the Installer expected to find Mac OS X–installed applications (like Mail) in their default locations (such as at the top level of the Applications folder). If, for example, you were to move Mail from the Applications folder—to, say, a subfolder called "Internet apps"—and then install a Mac OS X update that updated the Mail application, Mail would not get updated properly. Instead, the Installer would place a nonfunctional (even non-launchable!) copy of Mail in the Applications folder. This copy would contain only the subset of files that make up Mail's .app package that were actually updated. Meanwhile, your relocated copy of Mail would remain unchanged. The result would be one copy of Mail (in Applications) that did not work and another copy (located elsewhere) that was not updated. You would not receive any warning message from the Installer that a problem had occurred.

If you're comfortable working inside packages, you could fix this problem by dragging the updated files in the .app package at the default location to their respective folders within the application package of the original version, replacing the older versions as needed. The process is a pain, but it should work. Alternatively, you can use Pacifist (as covered earlier in this chapter) to separately reinstall an individual application. However, an easier approach is to simply return the application to its default location and try reinstalling the update.

Apple states that, starting with Mac OS X 10.2.2, this problem no longer occurs. The Installer should locate the needed files wherever they may be (as long as they're on the boot volume) and update them correctly. However, there have been a number of reports—relating to various updates—that indicate this is not consistently the case. I recommend playing it safe here by not moving Apple-installed files from their default locations.

With third-party installers, especially ones that allow you to choose the folder where the installed software should go, this should not be an issue.

External drives do not boot

If you have a bootable external drive (such as a FireWire hard drive), you may not be able to start up from the drive when it's attached to a Mac newer than the Mac OS X version installed on the drive. This may be because the new Mac requires an updated version of the operating system that includes the needed support files for its newer ROM. In some cases, the version of Mac OS X on your external drive and on the new Mac may be the same—leading you to believe that there should be no problem. However, the build number may be different. In any case, the solution is to update (or do a complete new install, if the Installer refuses to do the update) the version of Mac OS X on your external drive to the version that came with the new Mac (or a newer version).

Third-party software will not install

If you're trying to install third-party software that uses an installer utility (either Apple's or a competing one), and the install fails due to an unspecified error, this is almost always a permissions-related problem. The failure may occur during installation or on the initial launch of the application after installation. Specifically, the problem is that the installer attempted to install some file into a folder for which it did not have permission to do so.

The most common solution is to repair disk permissions with Disk Utility (as described in Chapter 5), and then attempt the installation again.

You can also log in as the root user and perform the installation from there. As root user, you avoid any permissions hassles. In some cases, after completing the install and logging back in as yourself, you may need to adjust the permissions (including owner and group names) of the newly installed software (probably located in the Applications folder) to match those of other applications in the same folder. If the installer created a new folder with several files and folders within it, you can use a utility like ArbySoft's BatChmod ( to make the changes to all items in one step.

If you are using a VISE Installer utility, make sure you disconnect from any remote networks before running the installer. Otherwise, the utility may search all computers and servers on the network prior to initiating an install. This could take sufficiently long that it will appear as if the utility has frozen.

If none of this works, check the vendor's Web site. It should either offer a specific work-around or indicate that the software has a conflict with the current version of Mac OS X (which the developer is presumably working to fix).

Can't install a Classic application

If you're still using third-party Mac OS 9 software, you may occasionally need to upgrade this software to a newer version. In some cases, upgrading requires running an installer utility that, of course, runs only in Mac OS 9. In general, this is not a problem. If you launch the installer utility, it will load Classic, and the installation will proceed as if you had booted from Mac OS 9. However, there are a few installers that will work correctly only if you boot from Mac OS 9.

The solution here—if you have an older Mac that can still boot in Mac OS 9—is to reboot in the older OS and do the installation. Otherwise, you will have to get more creative. For example, you may need to find an older Mac, do the installation there, and then copy the updated installed files to your Mac.

Video issues warning

When Mac OS X 10.2.5 was released, Apple warned: "On certain computers, you should set the Displays preferences to the native resolution before installing the Mac OS X 10.2.5 Update. If you do not, temporary video issues may occur when the computer wakes from sleep." The affected computers were the PowerBook G4 (17-inch); the iMac (17-inch 1 GHz); and the Power Mac G4 with an nVidia GeForce 4MX or nVidia GeForce 4 Titanium display card connected to an LCD display.

Even if your Mac is not on that list, and even if you are upgrading to Tiger, if you're using an LCD display, I would play it safe: Shift to the native resolution (via the Displays System Preferences) before installing an update. Typically, the native resolution is the highest one listed in Displays.

If you read this suggestion after the problem has already occurred, change the resolution to anything that works and restart. After restarting, you can select the desired resolution successfully.

A collection of basic tips

In conclusion, I offer a summary of the most frequently needed advice for installation woes:

  • Make sure you have enough disk space for the installation (and that you meet all other requirements listed in the read-me file that accompanies the software).
  • Make sure you have administrative status and know your password.
  • Disable Screen Effects and Energy Saver sleep before performing an installation that may take long enough that these are invoked before it's complete.
  • Turn off Classic (if it's running).
  • Don't attempt other computer activities during an installation.

For further, more technical details on software installation, check out Apple's developer documentation at the following location:

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