Trapped DVD after a failed Snow Leopard Install on a Mac Mini

Yeah, that’s a long title, but I want it to be easily searchable on the web.

I have an Intel-based Mac Mini running Mac OS X Tiger. I recently procured a Snow Leopard DVD and read that you can, in fact, upgrade from Tiger to Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard has some cool new features that I thought I’d like, so I gave it a shot.

I inserted the DVD and the finder window came up showing me the “Install Mac OS X” option and I double-clicked on it. It told me it had to reboot in order to perform the installation, so I said okay and it rebooted.

(Note that I didn’t care what happened to my existing installation, files, etc… this machine is used for web application testing, so I don’t care if I wipe everything or not).

After a few minutes, the installer came up and asked me what language I wanted to use (English) and I continued the install. It thought about things for a while and then told me:

Mac OS X cannot be installed on this machine because it does not have enough memory.

My options at this point were: Restore from Backup and Reboot. I chose the latter, thinking that the DVD would eject and I’d be back to using my old Tiger install.

Instead, the DVD stayed in the drive and, after the reboot, the whole process repeated — basically, I was asked what language I wanted and then told that my computer didn’t have enough memory to install Snow Leopard. :(

So, I tried the most obvious thing any Mac user would do: I pressed the eject button on the keyboard. No dice. I held the eject button down for what must have been 2 minutes. Nothing.

I tried Googling for answers. Lots of people giving various suggestions, none of which was working for me. CTRL-COMMAND-O-F apparently doesn’t work on Intel Macs. Holding OPTION during boot did nothing. Holding EJECT did nothing. Holding the mouse button down did nothing. I was seriously contemplating cracking open the machine to extract the DVD.

Someone suggested plugging the mouse button directly into the Mac, because some USB hubs don’t work quite right at initial boot. I have a Mac keyboard with my mouse plugged directly into that. That’s about as directly-plugged as you can get, right?

Well, apparently not. I moved by USB mouse from the keyboard to the back of the Mac Mini and held down the mouse during boot. Voile! Out popped the DVD.

So, anyone having similar problems can try this trick. It may save you from tearing-open your Mac Mini, or tearing-out your hair.

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