Upgrade Paths for Macs running Intel & and Apple Silicon CPUs

Last update: September 29, 2023

This is a mirror of the tip on https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-13695 stored to retain the original formatting after the communities formatting change of 2018.
It is maintained on my website, which may get compensation for me.

Backup (link explains how and why) your data before any installation.

Apple's operating system upgrades for Intel Macs are:

10.4 Tiger - only available on original installer discs for Intel Macs, not retail, 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard (10.6.6 includes the Mac App Store for 10.7 or later, 10.6.8 for 10.8 or later),
10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion, 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra, 10.13 High Sierra, 10.14 Mojave, 10.15 Catalina, 11 Big Sur, 12.0 Monterey, 13.0 Ventura, 14.0 Preview Sonoma
10.x.y - the y value is an update, and there are security updates that are available post the last update numerically that match up with the security updates of the next two upgrades (these have always included an update to Safari, though some browsers
are available for older operating systems that are newer than the last Safari release for that operating system).

Apple is still including the installers for 10.10 through 12.0 on its website.

Note, 10.6.3 is the last retail release of Snow Leopard on CD.   This is why some Macs below are separated by whether or not they need system specific 10.6 or 10.6.3 release.   The other riddle is that Apple has only made 10.11 available on the App Store 
for 10.6.8.    This necessitates recommending jumping to 10.12 where possible for 10.7 or later users.  Apple does offer a Feedback page if you want it for other systems.

If you are looking for a specific update to one of the upgrades below, my other tip can help.

The table below includes the Machine ID/Model Identifier, that comes from the System Profiler, found under Apple menu -> About This Mac -> System Report (or System Profiler) -> Hardware.  The EMC# indicated for some of these models is sometimes there,
and sometimes on a label on the machine itself.

This shows the upgrade paths up to Catalina for all Intel Macs, and their Model Identifiers.    

Each row in the table indicates the earliest Apple supported Mac by each starting OS and end OS configuration.

Note the horizontal scrollbar on the bottom of this tip to show the Mac Pro compatibility is beyond the width of this tip's layout.  

Every Mac released on or after an operating system release can't run an older version of Mac OS.  The one exception is Mac OS X 10.6 Server which can run on Parallels on newer Macs.  For more on release dates, see the identifying articles are found on this tip:

How to find your Mac's model and age?

iMac Late 2015 16,1 

(shipped with Mac OS X 10.11)

10.6 compatible - 10.6.8
compatible with 10.6 & 10.6.3 retail

iOS 6 and earlier9

MacBook 1,1 iMac 4,x MacBook Pro 1,x Mac Mini 1,x

10.6.3 to 10.7.5 compatible
compatible with 10.6 & 10.6.3 retail

iOS 9.0 and earlier under 10.7.59

MacBook with removable battery iMac 5,x; 6,x (Late 2006) MacBook Pro 2,x

Mac Mini 2,x
late 2007

MacBook Air 1,x
early 2008

Mac Pro 1,x-2,x
2006 through early 2007

10.8 -10.11 preloaded with 10.4
compatible with 10.6 & 10.6.3 retail
Also iOS 14
under Mac OS X 10.119

Late 2008 MacBook Aluminum 5,1 iMac Mid 2007 7,1 mid 2007 MacBook Pro 3,1 - 4,2
10.8 -10.11 preloaded with 10.5
compatible with 10.6 & 10.6.3 retail
MacBook White Early 2009 5,2 iMac Early 2008 8,1; 9,1

MacBook Pro 5,1 - 6,2
early 2009

Mac Mini 3,1
early 2009

MacBook Air 2,1
Late 2008
Mac Pro 3,1 and 4,1
early 2008
10.12 & 10.131 compatible with 10.6.3 retail.  Also 10.11 compatible through 10.6.8 App Store. MacBook Late 2009 6,1 iMac Late 2009 10,1 and 11,1

10.12 & 10.131
compatible with system specific3
10.6.3 or later

iMac Late 2015 MacBook 7,1 Mid 2010 iMac 11,2 Mid-2010 MacBook Pro mid-2010 7,1

Mac Mini

Mid 2010 4,1

MacBook Air Late 2010 3,1

10.12, 10.14
10.6.3 system specific1,3

Mac Pro 5,1 (2010)4
10.12, 10.14, and 10.15 compatible
(original shipping OS)1,5

MacBook early 2015 8,1

iMac Late 2012 12,1
(Shipped with 10.8.2)2
MacBook Pro Mid-2012 9,1
Mac Mini
Late 2012 6,1

MacBook Air Mid 2012 5,1

Mac Pro 2013 6,1
(shipped with 10.9.1)

11.0 Big Sur1,5 Same as Catalina7

iMac 2014 14,4
(Shipped with 10.9.3)7

MacBook Pro Late 2013 11,1
or later

Mac Mini 2014 (7,1)

MacBook Air 2013 6,1
Same is Catalina

12.0 Monterey1,10

MacBook Early 2016 9,1 (shipped with Mac OS X 10.11) iMac Late 2015 16,1 (shipped with Mac OS X 10.11)

MacBook Pro
Early 2015 12,1 
(shipped with Mac OS X 10.10)

Same as Big Sur Macbook Air Early 2015 7,1
(shipped with Mac OS X 10.10)
Same is Catalina
13.0 Ventura11

MacBook 2017

10,1 (shipped with Sierra)

iMac non-pro (18,1
Shipped with Sierra
and Pro 2017 (1,1) shipped with High Sierra

Macbook Pro 2017 (14,1 shipped with Sierra) Mac Mini 2018 (8,1 shipped with Mojave)

MacBook Air 2018
(8,1 shipped with Mojave)

Mac Pro 2019

(7,1 shipped with Mojave)

Mac Studio 2022 (1,1 shipped with Monterey)

14 Sonoma Not compatible

iMac non Pro 2019

(19,1) Mojave

iMac Pro 2017 (1,1)
shipped with high sierra

MacBook Pro (15,1)  2018

High Sierra

Mac Mini

Same as Ventura

MacBook Air

same as Ventura

Same as Ventura
Machine ID to minimum-max OS
10.4.4-10.6.8 10.4.4-10.7.5 10.4.4-10.11 10.5



10.6 System Specific-10.13 10.6 Sys Spec-10.14 10.7.3




Macbook Air 1,x 3,1 3,1 5,1 6,1 7,1 8,1
MacBook Pro 1,x 2,x 3,1-4,2 5,1-6,2 7,1 9,1 11,1 12,1 14,1 15,1
iMac 4,x 5,x; 6,x (Late 2006) 7,1 8,1-9,1 10,1-11,1 11,2 12,1 14,4 16,1 18,1 19,1
MacMini 1,x 2,x Late 2007 3,1 4,1 6,1 7,1 8,1
Macbook 1,1 Removable battery 5,1 Alum; 5,2 6,1 7,1 8,1 9,1 10,1
Mac Pro 1,x-2,x 3,1-4,1 5,1 6,1 7,1
iMac Pro 1,1
Mac Studio 1,1

Keep in mind Apple's operating systems have the following major transitions:

January 7, 2006 Apple introduces Intel CPU Macs. Prior transitions covered in more detail on my Mac OS X Native FAQ.

Mac OS 10.6 to 10.7 Apple got rid of Rosetta, for using PowerPC applications
Mac OS 10.6.3 last retail installer disc.   Not available for Macs between March 15, 2010 and July 22, 2011 release.  For those system specific discs,
or firmware installation for internet recovery, or an external installed supported system had to be cloned back to them to install the operating system.
Mac OS 10.6.4 first OS to support PC ExFAT formatting for read/write
Mac OS 10.6.6 could upgrade to 10.7 by the Apple Store
Mac OS 10.6.8 upgrade to 10.8 through 10.11 through the Apple Store.
Mac OS 10.7 and later systems offered internet restore
Mac OS 10.8 to 10.11 All have the same minimum system requirements.
Mac OS 10.12 and 10.13 have same minimum system requirements.
Mac OS 10.12.4 first multifactor authentication operating system for Apple ID.    Prior OSes AppleID password is followed by MFA reported ID on other devices when multifactor is enabled
Mac OS 10.13 first APFS operating system.    Solid state drives are automatically formatted APFS.    Platter drives are optional until 10.14.   Prior OSes can't read APFS operating system.
Mac OS 10.15 first 100% 64 bit application/driver.  Many upgrades are required on third party software.

2020 Apple shifts to Apple Silicon Macs.   These Macs can run iOS Apps, do not support Boot Camp, and require VMware or Parallels with AMD Windows for Windows installation.


1) Note starting with 10.13, Apple introduced APFS that made reading newer systems on older Macs that don't support Mac OS 10.13 invisible. This also makes internet restore unable to see the drive until it is reformatted HFS Extended Journalled with Disk Utility on any Mac older than High Sierra's September 25, 2017 release.  This is especially a problem on formatted SSDs (solid state drives are drives that do not have platter based storage) as those would automatically format in the new system.   Older platter hard drives could retain the HFS+ GUID formatting on the newer operating systems to allow older systems to see the new systems in target disk mode.
The startup manager also can "see" hard drives booting into 10.12 and earlier won't see if the Mac supports that model.

10.12.4 which all the Macs with this footnote can run, also adds support for multi factor authentication with iOS devices and AppleTV.

2) Catalina machines that shipped with 10.8.5 or earlier need to be upgraded to 10.12 first before being able to upgrade to Catalina.   The original shipping OS, is also the OS that most likely will load when the Internet Recovery Shift-Option-⌘-R keyboard shortcut is selected on a wired USB keyboard or built-in keyboard.   The cloverleaf key being the one that Apple's hardware will interpret the Windows logo key to be on a USB Windows keyboard, and the Option key is what the hardware will assume the Alt key to be.

3) System Specific disc models, had discs that are specific to the model and vintage of that model that can be used to install the operating system.  Unfortunately these Macs do not work with system restore, unless a firmware was installed first.
AppleCare may have these discs, or you might be forced to keep a clone of the original system or later system if you have to wipe or replace the drive connected to that Mac.

In Short, these skipping upgrade paths are possible if the hardware supports it:

10.6 or 10.6.3 retail to 10.6.6 to 10.7 through App Store to 10.7.5 through Apple Downloads support site.
10.6 or 10.6.3 retail to 10.6.8 to 10.11 through App Store
10.6 system specific to 10.6.8 to 10.11 through App Store.   Everything beyond is through App Store only.
10.6.8 -> 10.11 to 10.13 

10.7.5 -> 10.12 to 10.14

10.8 -> 10.13 to 10.15

10.8 -> 10.14 to 10.15  (10.8 through 10.10 require an 18.5GB + 15% minimum, where as 10.11 or later requires a 12.5 GB + 15% minimum free space to go to Mojave)

10.8 -> 10.9 to 10.15 (10.9 and 10.10 require an 18.5GB + 15% minimum, where as 10.11.5 requires a 12.5 GB + 15% minimum free space to go to Catalina)

4) The Mac Pro 5,1 can only upgrade to 10.14 with the appropriate graphics card listed on Apple's website.

5) All Catalina and Big Sur upgrades require looking into 64 bit software updates.

6) Required upgrading to either 10.9 or 10.12 first before getting to Big Sur.  10.9 is only available if you downloaded it before on your Apple account through the Mac App Store.   10.12 required 35 GB free space purgeable
to install Big Sur.  Newer shipped with the most current OS at the time of release.

7) Could install Big Sur from any installed OS.   If 10.12 or later was used, 35 GB free of purgeable space was required.  Newer shipped with the most current OS at the time of release.

8) There are some older Macs that meet the requirements for Big Sur, but require extra steps to upgrade as documented on support.apple.com/en-us/HT211242

9) Currently, as of August 22, 2021 any Mac that can run El Capitan, can run 10.11.6 and use the latest version of iTunes for synchronization with iOS 14.  Also Mac OS X 10.12.4 is necessary to manage multi-factor authentication'
if turned on your iCloud account.

Older Mac OS X versions can only synchronize calendars, contacts, and ripped music with older iOS systems.    Photos and videos can be transferred via the Mac OS X Image Capture application on older Mac OS X versions than the synchronization supported.  This footnote is on each system to  indicate what iOS runs with the latest Mac OS in the group of the Macs in question.  For more information, see my user tip 8871.

10) Monterey requirements updated on 10/18/2021 on Apple's website for the 10/25/2021 release.