Upgrading to OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard

Posted on 12 February 2010 • AppleBlog

Ok, so I’m always late — will most likely be late to my own funeral — but yesterday, at long last, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my trusty MacBook Pro from OS X 10.5 to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. I’m a late adopter when it comes to my own computer. I prefer to wait until all the early adopter ubertechs sort through all the bugs before trusting a new OS to mess with my digital life. Granted I usually only wait a couple of months, but… no excuse really, just been a bit busy/useless. Finally took the plunge and purchased the beastie from Amazon as they’re a few quid cheaper than Apple.

First off I backed up my computer to my trusty Time Machine backup to ensure it was up-to-date. I then opened up System Preferences and switched Time Machine off. This is a very important step that Apple, in their infinite wisdom, fail to mention. They should scream it at before you upgrade. Why? Because Time Machine does automatic backups. Meaning that if you leave TM on, then after you’ve upgraded it will start backup up to your existing TM backup, overwriting it. If you then decide something went majorly wrong during your upgrade, you can’t go back. Your OS X 10.5 Time Machine backup will be completely useless as it’s been converted to an OS X 10.6 TM backup. Thanks Apple for not warning any of us about this one. Anyway, ran into that problem with a client computer, now back to mine.

I also took a second backup using the lovely Mike Bombich’s open source app Carbon Copy Cloner. The app is free to use, though please donate if you want to thank Mike for his hard and generous work providing it for free (hence him being lovely guy). Now, call me paranoid, but I never trust just having one backup, especially when I’m doing something drastic like upgrading my computer’s OS, so a second independent copy of all my dinky data is necessary for my peace of mind.

So, after spending most of the afternoon preparing, it was now just about teat time, and I was finally ready to make the move to the next level of life in my Apple existence. Clicked install OS X and then went and had dinner, watched the news and caught the first episode of Emmerdale (yes, I know, but don’t hate me for loving my soaps). A couple of hours later I heard my trusty Mac restart from the other room and rushed in to find my new Mac all upgraded to the new world of Snow Leopard, which looks a lot like the old Leopard, but did free up nearly 8GB of disk space on my hard drive. Thanks and praise to Apple for reducing the footprint of OS X!

Now most of this worked a treat. I of course had a few applications which needed to be upgraded to work with the new OS, such as:

The system extension “/System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext” was installed improperly and cannot be used.

Sorted by a quick upgrade of Soundflower app which I sometimes use to record audio running through my Mac.

But, when the error message popped up, I did what I always do: hit shift+cmd+4, followed by the spacebar, to do a Screen Capture of the error message window. The only problem was this:

Your screen shot can’t be saved. Unable to create type string.

Now this is really and totally Apple’s fault. It’s a damaged preferences file, which should have been easy to fix. I decided to clean up my hard drive and disk preferences. Restarted, holding the c key just after the ping sounded to startup from the OS X 10.6 CD. Launched Disk Utility and tidied up my hard drive. Then restarted as normal, but no joy. Apple’s fall-back easy solution didn’t fix the problem. Should have, but didn’t

So, it was off to the Apple Support Forum where I first tried this solution:

  1. Launch the Terminal application (Applications/Utilities/).
  2. Run the command “defaults write com.apple.screencapture type png“.

It should have rewritten my Preferences file, replacing the damaged one. Unfortunately no joy. After much trial and tribulation I found a solution posted by Everfresh (slightly abridged version below:

  1. Open the System Preferences (Apple menu top-left).
  2. Go to the Accounts tab and click the + button to add a new Administrator account.
  3. Logout and login to the new Admin account.
  4. Launch the Terminal application (Applications/Utilities/)
  5. Run the command “defaults write com.apple.screencapture type png” the quit Terminal.
  6. Go to the ~/Library/Preferences/ folder and copy the file com.apple.screencapture.plist to the root of your hard drive (i.e. outside of your user folder).
  7. Logout and login to your normal account.
  8. Copy the file com.apple.screencapture.plist from the root of your hard drive to your ~/Library/Preferences/ folder, entering your Admin password to overwrite the existing file.
  9. That’s it, Screen Capture should now work

It was all a bit long winded, but in the end the Apple community offered me a solution, and SO GLAD I waited until the ubertechs had found solutions for Apple’s bugs.

Also, there was a link at the bottom of Everfresh’s post to and article Everything you need to know about screen captures at the end of which was a nice little site with a whole host of great ideas for getting the post from Snow Leopard.