OS X Lion is now available from the Mac App Store and we know that many of you are preparing or have already started downloading and installing the new cat.
Preparing Your Mac for Mac OS X Lion
Mac OS X Lion has lots of new features to the Mac operating system, including enhanced multi-touch gesture support, the ability to swipe between fullscreen apps and a new auto-save system.
Upgrading an operating system can be a time-consuming process — no matter how easy the manufacturer tries to make it. To limit the potential headaches, we’ve put together this guide that should help you get your Mac ready for Lion.
Step 1: Check for System and Application Updates
Before upgrading to Lion, it’s important to check for any major software updates to both your operating system and to the programs and devices you use frequently.
A few weeks ago, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.8. This release was intended to help prepare users for Mac OS X Lion; it’s a required update before you can download Lion from the Mac App Store.
To update your system, click on the Apple menu and select “Software Update.” Go ahead and install any of the updates for your system and official Apple applications.
Next, check for available updates in your frequently used programs. A nice feature of the Mac App Store is that it makes it easy to find updates for programs you’ve purchased or installed. Just click on the “Updates” button in Mac App Store’s toolbar.
For other apps, lots of developers utilize various update frameworks within their applications and can alert users, when launched, that an update is available.
One of my longtime favorite Mac utilities is AppFresh. AppFresh is a free tool that scours your system for apps, compares them to the latest versions online and lets you install updates all in one convenient place.
Certain apps and utilities will need to be updated to work with Lion, so it’s important to make sure you are running the latest versions.
If you are using an older printer or scanner, you might want to determine if the manufacturer has updated drivers or has a plan for Lion compatibility.
2. Clear Up Some Disk Space
Lion is about a 4GB download, and to be on the safe side, it’s probably a good idea to have at least 10 – 12 GB of free disk space before installing the update.
Using a program like DaisyDisk or DiskWave is an efficient way to figure out what files and folders are taking up the most space. You can either back up some of those files to other drives or to places such as Dropbox, or delete unused apps or downloads.
3. Check App Compatibility
With Lion, Apple is making some changes to the way programs work and interact. As a result, not all programs that run in Snow Leopard are going to work flawlessly in Lion.
Fortunately, most app developers are already preparing and releasing updates and many more will have updates ready as soon as Lion ships. To get an idea of what apps will work, what apps won’t and what apps might “mostly work,” check out the community wiki, RoardingApps.
RoaringApps is a database/compatibility wiki for apps and Mac OS X Lion. Users of the Lion Developer Previews and the Golden Master can comment on how well (or how poorly) apps work with Lion.
I’ve found this resource to be quite helpful, especially for workarounds and potential fixes for apps that might not be fully Lion compatible.
Step 4. Say Goodbye to PowerPC Apps
A larger issue for longtime Mac users is that with Lion, Apple is officially dropping support for Rosetta. Rosetta was a technology that Apple developed to help users run older PowerPC apps on Intel Macs. Over the last five years, most major Mac apps have been updated or rewritten to work natively as Intel Mac apps or as universal binaries.
A handful of older applications (older versions of Adobe Creative Suite and Quicken 2007 are two frequently cited examples) will not work with Mac OS X Lion. Users will need to find replacement apps, upgrade to newer versions or keep a second-hard drive around to boot into Snow Leopard when needed.
Step 5. Backup, Backup, Backup
The last step in preparing your Mac for Lion is to do a serious backup of your system disk. While operating system upgrades are less error-prone than in the past, there’s nothing worse than doing an update and then having a problem with accessing files or folders or installing software.
If you don’t already have a hard drive dedicated to backup, pick one up before you upgrade to Lion. Drive space is inexpensive these days. I was able to pick up a 1TB FireWire 800/USB 2.0 2.5″ hard drive for about $150 two weeks ago. My MacBook Pro only has a 250GB hard drive, so I can partition that drive and use it as both a Time Machine backup and with Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable backup, plus still have plenty of room for additional storage space.
Fortunately, creating a backup of your system (something you should be doing regularly anyway) is easy in Mac OS X. When Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was released in 2007, one of the flagship features was the debut of Time Machine. Time Machine makes it easy to make continuous backups of your files, folders and applications.
To get started with Time Machine, just open up the app in your Applications folder or from its panel in System Preferences. If you have never used Time Machine before, just plug in a hard drive, and tell Time Machine that you want to use that drive (or a partition on that drive) for your backups.
Bootable Backup Disks
A Time Machine backup can be useful for restoring old files or applications after you upgrade to Lion, especially if you choose to do a clean install (yes, you can do a clean install of Lion, it just takes a tad more work. We’ll have a full guide ready as soon as Lion is available in the Mac App Store.), but we recommend creating a bootable clone of your current hard drive too.
Using a program such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, you can quickly make a bootable backup of your hard drive.
In a worst-case scenario, you can boot from your external backup drive and use that as your main hard drive (if needed). Mac OS X Lion will no longer support older PowerPC Mac apps using Rosetta. As a result, users who still need to access an old program or old file formats should make sure they have a bootable copy of Snow Leopard around, just in case.
SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner are both great apps. Carbon Copy Cloner is free (though if you find it valuable, please consider donating — it’s a truly fantastic app), while SuperDuper is $27.95 to unlock its more advanced features.
To use Carbon Copy Cloner to create an exact replica of your current hard drive, launch the app and then select your “Source Disk,” which is your startup volume.
Select your external hard drive (or specific partition) as your “Target Disk.” By default, this will make an exact backup of all of your files, folders and applications and make the hard drive bootable. Click the Clone button and you’re done. You might want to take a break and do some reading or spend time with the family — the backup process can take a while.
Clean Installation of Mac OS X Lion :
Because installation takes place entirely from within the Mac App Store, the usual “clean install” option isn’t present. If you’ve followed our guide for preparing your Mac for Lion, you’re probably in good shape to proceed with an upgrade. If, however, you long for the ability to do a clean install without having to first install Snow Leopard and then only install Lion.
If you want to create a bootable USB stick or burn a DVD of OS X Lion, read along.
Step1 : Download Mac from Mac App Store:
Download OS X Lion from the Mac App Store. This is a 4GB download. Now as soon as your download is complete, exit out of the installation prompt. We don’t want you to do an install right now.
Step2: Find the “Install Lion App” in finder.
Locate the Lion Installation program.
Step3: Right-click or CTRL click on the program icon and select “Show Package Contents
Right-click or CTRL click on the program icon and select “Show Package Contents.” Now, you want to browse to the “Shared Support” folder inside the “Contents” and locate a file called “InstallESD.dmg.” This is the file we use to create our bootable Lion image.
Copy this file to your desktop or any other folder you have easy access to.
Step4: Start Disk Utility
Open up Disk Utility(It’s in the Utilities folder in Applications). At this point you should see various hard drives connected to your Mac. If you haven’t plugged in an empty USB thumb drive or a hard drive with empty partition, you need to do that now.
Step5: Insert a blank DVD
For users who want to create a DVD for installation purposes, go ahead and put it in your Mac. In the Disk Utility, click the Burn icon and then select the “InstallESD.dmg” file that we just copied.
Let it burn.
Step6: Select the USB drive you want to use.
Click on the tab that says “Erase.”
If however you’d prefer to create a bootable USB drive. Select it now. In the source menu select “InstallESD.dmg” file that we already copied.
For destination, choose the drive you want to use. Beware, that you will erase everything in this partition and replace it with Mac OS X Lion, so be sure that you don’t have anything important on that drive or partition.
After the image is burned to USB or DVD, restart your computer by holding down the option key. You will now be given an option to boot from the DVD or USB drive. Go through the installation, ready to enjoy a new, clean install of Lion.
For the Uber-Scared
Apple will be selling OS X Lion on USB thumbdrives in its stores in August for $69. You can buy several 8GB USB thumb drives for that price, so our advice is to skip the Apple release and just burn your own Lion installer copy for safe keeping.