This tip replaces version 2126 originally released on the Discussions Feedback forum.
Find the serial number on:
Plug your serial number in at this link:
Do not use third party links as they may not be secure.
Do not post the serial number on this board, as that is your key to any support you may have left.
Use this tip also to help figure out which portion of the Support Community to post in, as this tip explains:
When you have no serial number, use one of these third party sites to find your model, production year, time in year
(early, middle, late, summer, fall, winter, spring):
PowerMac, PowerPC, eMac, iMac PPC, iBook (Apple recycled the name iBook for its eBook application on new Macs and iOS devices), Powerbook, Classic all refer to Macs that are older than the present series
of Macs. Posting in those forums about a current Mac, shows you have not researched your Mac sufficiently to get a succinct answer to your query. Apple menu -> About This Mac will tell you the Mac OS version or System version you are running. The X in the version is important, and so is the preceding 10 in the version if it exists.
Questions saying X.1 could refer to Mac OS X 10.13.1, 10.1. Don't truncate the version you see.
There are no iOS forums specific to the operating system found on iPads, iPod Touch, AppleTV, Apple Watch, and iPhones. Figure out the type of portable device you are running to ask a question about that device specifically.
Apple has these identifying articles as well:
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3255 - MacBook Air
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1635 - MacBook
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4132 - MacBook Pro
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3476 - Mac Mini
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6069 - Mac Pro
http://support.apple.com/kb/TA22033 - PowerMac G3
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3065 - Powerbook G4
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2287 - Powerbook G3
Macs generally will not run an older Mac OS X operating system than shipped with them.
The one exception is virtualizing 10.6 Server on 10.7 or later, which is described later.
Also important to note is that the Apple App Store only has 10.7, 10.8, and 10.12, except for those who purchased in between systems, and have a Mac that shipped with in between systems. For all others if you need an in between system, and your Mac is older, contact the App Store tech support.
These dates are important for recognizing what Mac OS X will run on Macs. Macs released on or after (including their model #s or name
September 25, 2017 will only run 10.13 or later.
- iMac Pro 1,1
- MacBook Pro 15,x (2018 model)
June 5, 2017 Mac models (all 2017 Models except iMac Pro) will only run 10.12.5 or later
September 20, 2016 will only run 10.12 or later.
- MacBook Pro with touchbar (instead of physical F keys)
- MacBook Pro 13,x
- iMac 18,x
- MacBook Air 7,2 see this article on which ones could only run 10.12 or later.
September 30, 2015 will only run 10.11 or later. These Macs are the first Macs that can be upgraded directly to
Mac OS 10.14 without installing any other software.
- iMac 16,x and 17,x
- Macbook 9,x (these Macbooks came with the USB-C, instead of the USB 2 connector)
October 16, 2014 will only run 10.10 or later (10.10 is only available for Macs that shipped with it).
- MacBook Air 7,1 and 7,2 (some models could only run 10.12 or later).
- Mac Mini 7,x
- iMac MF885LL/A came with 10.10.2. All other 15,x came with 10.10.0
- MacBook 8,x - the oldest that can run Mac OS 10.14 with this model name after installing 10.11 or later.
- MacBook Pro 11,4 and 11,5
October 22, 2013 will only run 10.9 or later (10.9 is only available for Macs that shipped with it).
- Macbook Pro 11,1 through 11,3
- Mac Pro 6,x
- MacBook Air Early 2014
- Mac Mini 6,x
- iMac 14,4
June 25, 2012 will only run 10.8 or later. 10.8 through 10.11 are supported by these Macs [indicate machine ID found in profiler], and newer models may run some variety of 10.9, 10.10, or 10.11):
- MacBook Pro with Retina EMC 2557 from 2012 and 2013 and later models.
- MacBook Air (2013 or newer) [6,1]
- MacBook Air (Mid 2013 or newer) [6,1]
- Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer) [6,1] - the oldest that can run 10.14 after installing 10.11 or later.
- iMac (Late 2012 or newer) [13,1]
- Mac Pro (Late 2013) [6,1]
These models above are the first models that can be upgraded directly to High Sierra 10.13 without other prior upgrades.
• iMac 12,1
These Macs which are older can also be upgraded to 10.12 by upgrading to 10.7.5 first, and 10.13 by upgrading to 10.8 first:
- MacBook (Late 2009 or newer) 6,1
- MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer) 6,1
- MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer) 3,1.
- Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer) 4,1
- iMac (Late 2009 or newer) 10,1
- Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer) 5,1
The Macs are compatible with 10.8 and later from prior 10.8's release
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2012) [3,1]-[5,1] (Earlier Mac Pros are discussed on the 10.8 upgrade tip).
- MacBook Late 2008 [5,1] to mid 2010 [7,1] with no Pro or Air in the name.
- iMac (Early 2009 to mid-2011) [9,1] to [12,1]
- Mac mini (Mid 2010 to mid 2011) [4,1] to [5.1]
- MacBook Air (Late 2010 to mid-2012 [3,1]-[5,2]
- MacBook Pro Late 2008 [5,1] to Retina 2012 that are not EMC 2557.
July 20, 2011 will only run 10.7 or later. The model IDs (x,x) and EMC that fit this description until June 25, 2012 release of 10.8 (excluding the ones which will run only 10.8 or later earlier mentioned) :
iMac of an EMC of 2496; 13,x and later.
Mac Mini 5,x and later.
Macbook Air 4,x and later.
MacBook 8,x and later (no Pro no Air in the name)
Mac Pro 5,1 with EMC 2629 - the oldest that can be have Mac OS 10.14 installed after installing 10.11 or later, those without that EMC number came with 10.6 and can also be updated to 10.14 the same manner; 6,x and later.
MacBook Pro with EMC 2555, 2563; 9,x and later.
Note all the Macs that can only run 10.7 and later, may be able to run 10.6 Server with Parallels, if you need compatibility with an older operating system:
Beyond this point Macs released during certain date ranges also have a maximum operating system, and/or
minimum retail operating system and system specific operating system requirement (when I say up to 10.9 that includes all incremental updates):
Note: images shown below for retail operating system are those that have no "Update, Dropin, or OEM" wording on them.
March 15, 2010-July 19, 2011 will only run prebundled 10.6 installer disc, and not retail, but also able to be upgraded to 10.9. Note this tip
if upgrading to 10.7 or later: https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-6271
August 28, 2009-March 14, 2010 will only 10.6 or later up to 10.9. And will at minimum be able to use
10.6.3 retail to install 10.6. Note this tip if upgrading to 10.7 or later: https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-6271
During 2000 to 2009, the serial number also made it easier to identify the Macs, as the 3rd, 4th, and 5th character of the serial number referred to the week
and year of the shipment date. Thus for serial numbers where x can be any letter or number, xxABCxxxxx serial numbers would refer to an A which is the last digit of the year, and BC=week of the year. xx905xxxx is the fifth week of 2009. You can then use Wikipedia to figure out what date the release was, and if it was after a specific retail release of an operating system to determine which pre bundled disc it came with, and which later retail discs the Mac could work with.
December 15, 2008-August 28, 2009 will only run prebundled 10.5 installer disc, and 10.6 retail https://discussions.apple.com/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/102-2455-88-4323 6/snow.jpgsnow.jpg, and if on https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-3761
will also run up to Mac OS X 10.11 if you follow this tip: https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-6271
October 28, 2007 -December 14, 2008 will at minimum be able to use the 10.5.6 retail, and install up to 10.9 if included on https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-3761 if you follow this tip https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-6271
able to run 10.9. Core2Duo and Xeon can upgrade to a minimum of 10.7.5. Otherwise if they only have a CoreDuo, CoreSolo Intel
processor only be able to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6.8. G5, G4, and G3 processors are not Intel.
Earlier dates are covered on this tip:Can I download my Mac OS upgrade?
Using the dates from the above documents, and the dates according to Wikipedia when specific retail
operating system systems were released, you can find which retail releases were newer than the Macs and the ones immediately older.
An October 24, 2011 Macbook Pro will only run 10.8 retail, and 10.9 retail downloads, but needs an
AppleCare requested 10.7 installer to install 10.7. An exception exists in 10.6 Server, as indicated here:
A pre-October 26, 2007 MacBook Pro will only run the system specific Mac OS X 10.4 installer
that shipped with it, which can be ordered from AppleCare, or newer retail installer versions
CoreDuo, nor is CoreSolo is not compatible with 10.7.
For PowerPC Macs, Mac OS X 10.4.11 and earlier offer Classic compatibility, and on certain 2003 and earlier Macs dual booting on Mac OS X 10.5 & Mac OS 9:
No Mac may run an older version of Mac OS 9 than was prebundled with it.
A more precise timeline of Mac OS X follows (in U.S. date notation. Links to relevant articles up to 10.7 are included, as 10.7 drops PowerPC applications on Intel):
4/8/2015 10.10.3 (with supplemental on 4/16/2015)
10/16/2014 10.10 Yosemite
10/22/2013 10.9 (10.9 & 10.9.1 should be skipped due to security issues) Mavericks
10/3/2013 10.8.5 supplemental update
9/25/2013 10.8.4 iMac Late 2013
6/10/2013 10.8.4 MacBook Air mid 2013
11/29/2012 10.8.2 Mac MIni Late 2012
10/4/2012 10.8.2 supplemental update
10/4/2012 10.7.5 supplemental update
7/25/2012 10.8 Mountain Lion
7/25/2011 10.6.8 v1.1
5/4/2011 10.6.7 Early 2011 MacBook Pro
4/13/2010 10.6.3 v1.1
4/1/2010 10.6.3 retail installer presently sold at the online Apple Store.
8/28/2009 10.6 retail installer (Snow Leopard)
12/15/2008 10.5.6 retail installer (Last PowerPC installer)
6/30/2008 10.5.4 retail installer
11/15/2007 10.5.1 retail installer
10/26/2007 10.5 retail installer (Leopard)
8/7/2006 Mac Pro (Intel, first Snow Leopard compatible professional desktop) replaces PowerMac G5 (the last PowerPC Mac and Mac capable of running Classic)
5/16/2006 The MacBook replaces the iBook (the last consumer notebook capable of running Classic)
2/28/2006 First Intel Mac Mini (not capable of running Classic, first Mac)
1/10/2006 First Intel iMacs, MacBook Pro replaces Powerbook (first Macs not capable of running Classic, first Mac capable of running Snow Leopard)
10/31/2005 10.4.3 retail PowerPC only.
12/17/2003 10.3.2 retail
Some hints about operating systems:
- Mac OS X 10.8 or later are required to sync with iOS 9.2 or 9.2.1.
- No PowerPC Mac can run Mac OS X 10.5.8 or higher, or sync with iOS 6 or higher.
- No PowerPC Mac can run Boot Camp
- No Mac can run Classic (side by side Mac OS 9 with Mac OS X without reboot) on the same partition as Mac OS X 10.5 or higher.
- No Intel Mac can run Classic.
- All Intel Macs can run at least Mac OS X 10.6.8 as long as they are older than Mac OS X 10.7's release.
- PowerPC applications need Mac OS X 10.6.8 or earlier to run on Intel Macs.
- Boot Camp needs Mac OS X 10.5 or later on Intel Macs. Note other virtualization tools are available for Mac OS X 10.4.11 or earlier on Intel Macs.
- Mac OS X 10.7.3 is needed for the latest Java and minimum iCloud.
- The same minimum system requirements exist for Mac OS X 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, and 10.11.
- 10.6.6 is the minimum for the Mac App Store, and upgrading to 10.7 without erasing the drive you install 10.7 on if the hardware supports it.
- 10.6.8 is the minimum for 10.8 or later upgrades if the hardware supports it.
- Apple has a 10.6.8 to 10.11 update on the App Store.
- Some Macs that shipped with 10.6 can install up to 10.12 if they are upgraded to 10.7.5 first.