Installing OS X without a functioning optical drive

I recently gave my old powerbook to my sister in law. I had a lot of information on it and so I planned to transfer all my files and do a clean install. One problem the dvd drive on my old powerbook is broken. It would continually spit the installation disk out. Fortunately I have another mac which was able to help with this.

So how do I install OS X when the dvd drive is broken?

1. Connect the two Macs by firewire cable. One will be the host for the DVD drive and one will be the target which you will install OS X onto.

2. Start up the target computer you plan to install OS X on in target mode by holding down T when you restart the computer. This will mount the target computer as a hard drive on the host computer.

3. Put the OS X installation disk into the Mac that is your host computer.

4. You can now either open the installer on the DVD which will prompt you to restart the host computer. Or you can simply restart and hold down C which will force the Mac to startup from the DVD.

5. Once you have started up from the installer DVD follow through the normal steps. You will then arrive at the option to choose the destination. Select the hard drive of the target computer. You will probably have to change the options if you are not doing an upgrade.

6. Once you have finished the installation shut down the host computer and disconnect the firewire cable. You can now restart the target computer which will startup with a newly installed OS X.

*Note: If you are installing OS X 10.3 (panther) or earlier you can not use an intel based mac to use as the host computer. Both the target and host computers will need to be powerpc based and vice versa if you are installing on an intel based mac.

2 thoughts on “Installing OS X without a functioning optical drive

  1. Thomas Vacchino

    I have an intel G5 Imac that has a faulty Optical Drive. I have set up target disk mode with my old g4 Titanium in hopes of reinstalling TIGER. Problem I run into is when the G5 Disk shows up it has a exclamation mark on it and states “Cannot install OSX on this volume. OSX cannot start up from this volume”………… I’m hesitant to pursue this any further as it seems a reformat MAY let me go the install which is fine as that was the intention. But where as teh G5 Optical Drive is gone I’m pretty much screwed if I reformat and still get that Exclamation mark.

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