#170 FAQ: what to do when OS X installer says "cannot install"

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I have a Mac laptop, set up to dual-boot OS X and Ubuntu, using rEFIt.

I just tried to upgrade my Mac laptop to the latest OS X version. The OS X installer would not do the upgrade. It printed an error message: "You cannot install Mac OS X on this volume" It also said "Mac OS X cannot start up from this volume"

The fix is incredibly simple: just uninstall rEFIt. Then the OS X installer is happy again.

I didn't know to do this, so I backed up my entire hard disk, wiped it, and then performed the install to OS X. (I'm not bitter... I made a few improvements to the disk partition layout while doing this.)

But I urge you to put an item in the FAQ, with the error messages, and the simple explanation that uninstalling rEFIt will sort the problem out. Then Google searches on the error message text will land users on the rEFIt FAQ and they can find this out.

FYI, here is a web page from Apple discussing this error. (Sadly, they do not mention rEFIt as a possible cause of this issue.)



  • Joe van Tunen

    Joe van Tunen - 2010-06-24

    rEFIt is just an ordinary folder called /EFI filled with ordinary files. It should not affect OS X installs.

    You didn't explain how you know that rEFIt is the problem.

    By latest version, you mean 10.6.4. Did you try the updater or the combo updater? Were you updating from 10.6.3 or an earlier version?

    Was rEFIt installed to your Mac OS X partition? Did you click the Mac OS X partition in the Mac OS X updater?

    http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1600 is discussing partition type limitations. Do you have other drives connected to your laptop? Do they all use the same partition scheme? What partition scheme were you using before and after the update? You wiped the drive - does that mean you reformatted it? Maybe you fixed a partition scheme problem when you did that.

  • Steve R. Hastings

    I just attempted to reproduce the issue by booting from the Snow Leopard install DVD. This time the install DVD is willing to install to the volume. So, it would appear that you are correct and there was something else going on.

    My apologies.


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