No 'Clean' Install of OS X Lion, Unconfirmed Steve Jobs Emails Suggest

Purported email exchanges between Apple fans and Steve Jobs are doing the rounds raising concerns that OS X 10.7 Lion doesn’t support what is known as a ‘clean’ install.

A ‘clean’ installation of Mac OS X refers to the user’s ability to get a completely empty machine up and running with that version of Mac OS X. For example, a MacBook whose hard drive has been completely erased (formatted).

So, the question is: can we install Lion on that machine without having to install Snow Leopard first?

According to a MacRumors post, a person who was concerned about this matter allegedly sent Apple’s CEO an email to clarify whether or not Snow Leopard was a requirement for ultimately clean-installing Lion.

Here’s the alleged conversation:

On Jun 20, 2011, at 9:57 PM, xxxx wrote:


I’m really exited about Lion, but I’m a bit anxious about the absence of any physical media in the event of a crash where I need to do a clean install. Will Lion still provide a way to make a bootable image in the event that I need to start from scratch?

From: Steve Jobs

Subject: Re: Lion clean install

Date: June 21, 2011 7:55:05 AM PDT

To: xxxx

You can clean install Snow Leopaard [sic] first.

Sent from my iPhone

As Cult of Mac points out, the email exchange is questionable. First of all, Apple's CEO uses an iPhone and an iPad, both of which run iOS, and therefore have autocorrect.

Say Jobs turned off autocorrect (after carefully reading through our comprehensive guide on how to get it done), which would have fixed that ‘Leopaard’ mistake there, we must say we haven’t seen all that many Steve Jobs emails that had typos in them. Have you?

There’s also the matter of actually being able to achieve a clean installation of Lion. Apple hasn’t yet laid out the official methodology, but rest assured, Lion can be installed without needing Snow Leopard.

The fact of the matter is Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.6 and later) is the only ‘tool’ that downloads Lion from the Mac App Store, as the OS itself brings the storefront interface.

But nothing is stopping users from putting the already downloaded Lion onto a disc, or a USB drive to install it on a blank HFS+ partition later, or on a different computer.

It is likely that Jobs would have clarified this. What’s more, Jobs’ alleged response doesn’t even seem to be a response to the user’s question.

Another purported email from Steve Jobs (via says pretty much the same thing:

Andreas Dantz asks:

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I just wanted to know if there will be a way to install Lion on a new HDD/SSD without previously installing 10.6?


Andreas Dantz

Steve’s reply:

Sorry, no.

Sent from my iPhone

We believe the Mac makers will, at the very least, issue a Support document outlining the process of achieving a clean install of Lion, once the OS debuts.

What’s your take on this?

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