Best way to update 10.6.8 Mac

What's the best way to update Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 (Mid-2010) from 10.6.8 to either El Capitan or Sierra or at least something newer than 10.6.8. We do not mind doing fresh install. We have other El Capitan Mac which we could use to create an installation image. Can we just install El Capitan and will it automatically activate and not ask for licence serial number? Will drivers still be available?

Tom SkowyrskiAsked:
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

You can't.  They're not supported.  The Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 (Mid-2010) can only go to Snow Leopard.  It's time to retire the thing or install linux.  Even Windows 7 in bootcamp would be newer.  You probably can't get Windows 10 on it if you only know how to use the Bootcamp Assistant.  You'll need to  tweak that install manually.  Depending on the exact model, you might be able to get Lion (10.7) on it, but that's also too obsolete.  Linux will be best bet or just get rid of it.
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
We already have Mac OS X version 10.10.5 installed on another one by previous guy, so how could he have done that? Did he manage to do that, because it was done a while ago and it cannot be done now?
Ok, I seem to remember incorrectly, or they've changed what was supported.

It looks like you can get to 10.11, which is El Capitan.  Unfortunately, you'll have had "purchased" it from the App Store at some point to get a free copy for yourself.  Otherwise, you'll have to find someone that has it.  Once you do have a copy, you can create a bootable USB and install it.  Here are the instructions for each version of OS X:
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
The mid 2010 Mac Mini can support all the way up to the current O/S (10.13.x - aka "High Sierra").  I have one running on my desk in front of me right now.  All my apps run without issue or so it seems to me.  I recommend that it have AT LEAST 8 GB of RAM.

That being said, it's probably at the limit.  It would not surprise me at all to find out that the next O/S has moved beyond that generation of Mac Mini.

The best way is to do a clean install.  To do that, you will need a bootable USB memory stick or hard drive with the installer on it.  That way you will (or should) have a fully self contained environment for the install.

You will also need brand new installers for any applications you might want.  Don't bother with the older ones or trying to save an installed copy.  Fresh is the way to go here.

Finally, it is best to have the device online for all the post install steps.

Step one is to make sure all the data you want to keep is safe.  By safe I mean on a separate drive somewhere, be it external, another Mac or even a network shared drive.

Step two is to boot into the USB stick and run Disk Utilities to wipe the drive.

Step three is to start the installation process.  It will probably take 30 to 45 minutes, if memory serves.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
Thank you. The end user understood it and decided that should be able to do it himself with me being on the phone. We are changing HDD to SSD, so we are not going to do the backup as we can just put the old HDD back if it does not work with SSD.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Apple Software

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.