Using an iPhone 5S When You’ve Been Sticking with OS X Snow Leopard

I hadn’t realized how much work it would be to move my wife from her iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5S. The project took many, many more hours than anticipated.

Still Using Snow Leopard

I have a Mac mini running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and a MacBook running OS X 10.9 Mavericks. I back up my old iPhone 3GS and 4G iPod touch to the Mac mini and my iPhone 4S to the MacBook, because iOS 9 isn’t compatible with Snow Leopard.

My wife uses a 15″ MacBook Pro, also with Snow Leopard, because she uses Microsoft Word and Excel from 2004 all the time – and Snow Leopard is the last version of OS X to support Office 2004. Until Tuesday, I never thought to upgrade her beyond OS X 10.6.

iPhone 5SWhen I got the second-hand iPhone 5S last week, I hooked it up to my MacBook, and everything was fine. But when it came time to clone her iPhone 4S to the 5S – well, let’s just say that iTunes 11.4, which is on her MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6, doesn’t work with an iPhone running iOS 9 and leave it at that.

My wife has her own music collection on her MacBook Pro. After a lot of trial and error, I ended up digging out an old 250 GB 3.5″ external hard drive, connecting it via FireWire 400, and cloning her internal hard drive to that external drive using SuperDuper! It took about 3 hours to clone 110 GB from one drive to the other.

Next step: Upgrade the external drive to OS X 10.11 El Capitan. She may as well have the latest and greatest on this hard drive, since it’s only going to be used for managing the iPhone 5S. That’s another project that took hours just to download the update. (Apple’s servers were probably busy with so many people upgrading to iOS 9.3.)

She’ll also be able to do FaceTime on her computer, giving her an alternative to holding the iPhone at arms length.

Once El Capitan is installed, there would normally be several incremental upgrades and security updates, but those can wait. It runs, and so does iTunes. The iPhone 4S was completely backed up and the iPhone 5S could finally be updated with everything from her iPhone 4S.

In retrospect, it might have been wiser – and maybe quicker – to install El Capitan on the external drive and them import the user. That didn’t even occur to me until I’d cloned the internal drive and downloaded OS X 10.11.

Be Prepared

The moral of the story is the old scouting motto: Be prepared. Know what version of iTunes and OS X are required for the version of iOS on your device. Under iOS 8, the iPhone 5S would have worked just fine with Snow Leopard. But once you’ve installed iOS 9, you need a newer version of OS X to support a newer version of iTunes.

For now we’ve got that external drive with El Capitan installed, and all the old PowerPC-only software was deleted. A lot of apps and utilities and downloads and old files that don’t need to be on the El Capitan drive have also been deleted. And in the short term we have a way to backup her iPhone 5S. (For her original iPad, we can stick with Snow Leopard.)

The midrange plan is to use an external bus-powered FireWire enclosure (the MacBool Pro’s USB ports are always in use, especially with an iPhone connected) with a 160 GB or larger 2.5″ hard drive, clone the big external drive to the bus-powered drive, making it much easier for her to boot El Capitan when she needs to.

The long term plan is to get a high enough capacity SSD (probably 512 GB) for the MacBook Pro, partition it for both operating systems, and eliminate the need for an external drive altogether.

By the way, she’s loving her new iPhone!

I hope to get another used iPhone 5S in coming weeks so we can each have one. the iPhone SE has really driven down their prices.

Keywords: #osxsnowleopard #osxelcapitan #itunes #iphone5s #ios9

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