OS X Lion Available Tomorrow (7/20): Read Before Upgrading

This post was a co-production of Zig Baird and Trace Dominguez.

Apple's Promo Image for Lion

The Wait Is Over!

Today, Apple had it’s 3rd Quarter financial report and GeekBeat blogger Zig Baird (who claims to understand all this financial mumbo-jumbo) reported to Livid Lobster, “Lion will launch tomorrow.” This follows the July 1st release of the Gold Master seed of Lion to developers.

NOTE: A Gold Master release typically signifies that a public release is on its way barring any major issues.

Official word from Apple begs the question, “Are you and your Mac ready for Lion?”

Things to Do Before Upgrading

While you still might be on the fence about the new OS, Lion will be here tomorrow and it’s time to make sure your system can handle it. I’ve put together 9 easy steps to help you out.

1. Check your processor

If your Mac model is after the late 2006 release, chances are your hardware should fit Lion’s requirements (if you don’t know try MacTracker). No PowerPC processors are supported anymore nor are single-core Intel processors.

Intel Processors that do work: Core 2 Duo || Core i3 || Core i5 || Core i7 || Xeon

Additionally you will need at least 2GB of RAM and – 4GB of free hard drive space.

2. Run verify permissions and fix disk before applying any updates

To do this:

  1. Open Disk Utility (standard with most versions of OS X located in Applications > Utilities)
  2. Click Repair Disk Permissions
  3. Once completed click Repair Disk

Interested in what this does? X-Lab provides a guide for more information. It shouldn’t hurt your computer, it’s just making sure everything is kosher.

3. Update your Operating System

Before you can upgrade to Lion, you’ll need to make sure you have Snow Leopard. OS X Lion is only available from the Mac App Store which wasn’t available until 10.6.6. If you have a Snow Leopard version prior to 10.6.6, run Software Updates to get the newest version (currently OS X 10.6.8).

If you don’t have Snow Leopard then visit your local Apple Store and pick one up for $29. Snow Leopard adds a number of features and slims OS X down and can even result in more disk space for you! More info on Snow Leopard.

4. Check file storage space

Lion requires 4GB of hard drive space for download files but users should probably aim for at least 10gb to account for temporary installation files. The more free space you have over the minimum the better (and possibly faster) the installation may go.

To see your free space simply open a finder window for your Mac’s HD and look at the bottom status bar. If you need help reclaiming your space Zig recommends DaisyDisk.

5. Check software applications

When Snow Leopard (version 10.6) was released, Apple announced they would no longer support PowerPC systems and would focus only on Intel Macs. However, some PowerPC applications could still run in Snow Leopard if users installed a software translator called Rosetta.

This is all a moot point now, as OS X Lion no longer supports Rosetta. Those old PowerPC apps will have to be upgraded.

If you’re worried your apps won’t be compatible visit OSXDaily’s guide on how to check.

6. Disable FileVault

Apple created FileVault to protect your data. It encrypts your hard drive and does a pretty good job of it, however Lion is going to improve that encryption. So disabling it and then re-enabling after the upgrade will give you that much more data protection.

7. Backup Your Data!

I just lost over 300 video files this week, because I didn’t have a reliable backup. There are plenty of ways to do this, from Apple’s built in Time Machine, to online data storage and backup. Anytime you ever do a system upgrade it’s good to back up your data. For piece of mind if nothing else. Make sure you verify and test your backup before you move on, don’t just assume all is well.

8. Ask yourself if you want/need to update

Do you want the new features? When OS X Lion is released, open the Mac App Store and check it out, or visit Apple’s promotional pages to learn about the software.

Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s everything you’ve ever wanted. You might love your Mac now and not want to spend the $30 right now. If you wait then you can let others find the bugs in the software for you, and come in later to a clean and familiar system.

If you’re like me and you can’t wait to get your grubby little mitts on it, then open the Mac App Store, buy it, download it, and follow the on-screen instructions to install Lion. Make sure you keep napkins hand in case of drool.

9. Accessorize your Hardware

OS X Lion has a whole slew of new features, including support for the Magic Trackpad. Why not go out and pick one up if you’re on an iMac! you’ll appreciate the intuitive gesture system — especially if you use an iPhone, iPad or Mac laptop as you’ve already learned them.


  1. Richard says

    De-authorise your iTunes account. From the “Store” menu in iTubes choose “deauthorize this computer…”. You’re limited to 5 machine authorised to access your iTunes account. Should everything go fine you can re-authorise iTunes on the machine again after the upgrade. If something goes horribly wrong then you’ve not lost one of your 5 authorisations.

    The same goes for any other software you’re using which needs to be registered on a specific machine basis. Hopefully none of this software will be upset by the operating system you’re using changing, but it’s worth checking before hand rather than have a piece of software you rely on stop working post upgrade just because of a licensing issue.

    Oh and backup, at least twice just in case. Even if you’ve a years worth of Time Machine backups, clone your computer to an external drive and make it bootable, Carbon Copy Cloner or similar tool will do this. Again, should something go horrible wrong at least you’ll be able to boot up off the external drive and run from that whilst you fix the problem.