The release of OS X Mountain Lion is just around the corner (it’s official: July 25), but before jumping into the latest major Mac system update, you’ll want to do a few things. We’ve broken it down to a few simple essentials that are easy to follow:
1) Verify System Requirements and Check Compatibility
Almost all relatively new Macs will run Mac OS X 10.8. You can easily find out if your Mac will run Mountain Lion by comparing it against this list of supported machines:
- iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
- MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
- Xserve (Early 2009)
If you’re unsure of your make and model year, check on your Mac by doing the following:
- From the Apple menu, select “About This Mac”, then click on “More Info”
- The model name and date will be shown, compare that to the list
All things considered, the system requirements for OS X Mountain Lion are fairly light, but there are some Core 2 Duo Macs that lose support and won’t be able to update. That can be frustrating, but it’s the price of progress. Remember that you’ll need at least 12GB of storage space available to install Mountain Lion, but realistically you should have more than that available to insure your Mac runs best anyway.
2) Check App Compatibility
If you’re already running OS X Lion (10.7) then you probably don’t need to worry much, but for those who are upgrading to Mountain Lion from Snow Leopard, there’s a good chance that an app or two won’t work. This is due to new architectural requirements for the latest versions of OS X and unfortunately there are some developers who have gotten on board to update their apps yet, despite having years to do so (QuickBooks is a prominent example).
A good list of compatible and incompatible apps is maintained in a searchable database by RoaringApps, check it out here.
If you find apps that are incompatible with OS X 10.8 you can either find an alternative on the App Store, or consider holding off on the system upgrade until the developer gets their act together. Smaller developers tend to do this faster than larger software companies, so if you’re waiting for a large company it may take a long time.
3) Backup, Backup, Backup
This is probably the most important step when upgrading any OS and a Mac is no different. The odds of something going wrong are slim, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Your best bet is to use Time Machine and initiate a manual backup right before installing OS X 10.8 update. If you don’t have Time Machine setup and configured yet, what are you waiting for? Grab a cheap external hard drive and set it up as a backup drive now, Time Machine is completely automated and as easy as backups get.
Ready? Buy & Install
Once Mountain Lion is on the Mac App Store, it’ll be a $20 purchase and installs directly from the App Store. It takes about 30-45 minutes to install depending on the speed of the internet connection and it’s mostly automated, you don’t need to sit around babysitting the installer.
Remember, if you bought a new Mac recently, Mountain Lion is free for you.