How To Prepare Your Mac For OS X Lion

lion background

Photo: Cult Of Mac

Apple’s latest operating system, OS X Lion, is due any day now.Aside from offering a bunch of neat iPhone-like features on your desktop, this will be Apple’s first operating system that won’t require a disc to install.

Instead, current Snow Leopard users can download and install Lion directly from the Mac App store.


If you’re planning on making the upgrade, we have some essential tips to take care of before you begin. Click below to see what you need to do.

Make sure you have the right system requirements

Apple says your Mac must have an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, or Xeon processor to run Lion.

If you don't know what your system is packing, click the Apple symbol in the top left corner of your screen and select 'About This Mac.' You'll see your Mac's processor listed there.

Consider upgrading your RAM

With Lion's new Launchpad feature, you'll probably be running a bunch of apps at once. To help, take a look at how much RAM your computer is packing. We suggest at least 2 GB. If you have less than that, check out sites like New Egg for good deals on extra memory for your system.

Get ready for a 3 GB (or larger download)

When we tested Lion in developer beta, we had to download a massive 3 GB file before installing. It's very likely the final version will be bigger. Make sure you have plenty of space on your hard drive before you download.

To check how much space you have left, open the finder and select your hard drive in the menu on the right. The finder will tell you how much space you have left at the bottom of the window.

Lion will take up about 8 GB of space after you install.

Backup your data

You backup your stuff, right? If not, shame on you. The easiest thing to do is back up using Apple's Time Machine. If something goes wrong when you install Lion, you can easily resurrect your system from the last backup. This will also help if you plan to perform a clean install.

To be 100% sure you have everything, set Time Machine to back up just before you're ready to install Lion.

Make sure you're running Snow Leopard

If you're not running Snow Leopard right now, you don't have access to the Mac App Store. And if you don't have access to the App Store, you can't install Lion. If you're still running Leopard or below, it's time to upgrade before you upgrade.

Apple just released the latest update to Snow Leopard, version 10.6.8, so make sure you have that before you install Lion.

To make sure you're running the latest version of Snow Leopard, click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen. Then click 'Software Update.' You'll be prompted to install the update if you don't have it.

What if you want a clean install?

A clean install completely erases everything on your computer and installs your new operating system. This is a good way to clear out those tiny files that have been slowing down your computer.

Before, it was easy to perform a clean install from a Mac OS X disc. But since there is no disc for Lion, you'll have to make your own. Click here for a handy guide on how to do it.

Your really, really old apps won't work with Lion

When apple made the switch to Intel processors, it included a neat feature in OS X called Rosetta that made old PowerPC apps work. Rosetta would 'translate' the old apps to work on Intel-powered Macs.

But with Lion, Apple doesn't want you to live in the past. Rosetta is out, and so are those old PowerPC apps. Good news: You should be able to find Lion-friendly versions of most of them.

Cult Of Mac suggests using the nifty free app App Fresh to scan your system and figure out which apps need ot be updated.

Now we wait...

Lion should be launching any day now in the App Store. It'll only cost you $30 to upgrade. Sounds like a no-brainer to us.

Want a sneak peek at Lion?

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