Upgrading Your Mac to Mountain Lion

What You Need to Run Mountain Lion

If you are considering an upgrade of your Mac OS to Mountain Lion, first be sure that your computer meets all of the required specifications:

  1. About-this-Mac is one of the following models:
    • 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)
  2. Software-update is running OSX 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or OSX 10.7 (Lion) 
  3. has 2 GB RAM 

The reason you need Snow Leopard or Lion is so you can access the Mac Apple Store. Mountain Lion is available only as a download and can be purchased online through the Apple Store. Apple stopped providing OSX disks beginning with Lion. You can use the same Mountain Lion install disk on 8 machines.

You can upgrade for free from the Apple Store if you bought a new Mac without OSX Mountain Lion on or after June 11, 2012.

If your machine is running Leopard, you’ll have to upgrade to Snow Leopard first, which will allow the Mountain Lion to be installed later (assuming you have enough RAM). Snow Leopard will improve the iMac’s behavior and things will run smoother than with Leopard.

It’s a good idea to call the Apple Store to make sure your machine can run Mountain Lion:
1-800-MY-APPLE. They will walk you through all of the specifications.

Before Installing

Before actually installing any OS, you should take some precautionary steps, best outlined in this article:

Here’s the Apple support page for installing Snow Leopard: http://www.apple.com/support/snowleopard/installation/

In summary, you should:

  1. Check your hard drive to make sure it’s “healthy”. Use Disk Utility for this, which is found in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder. However, when you do a “live” verification (checking the startup volume while your computer is started from it), you will be unable to make certain repairs. So, I recommend starting up your Mac with the Install DVD and using the Disk Utility on that disc to check permissions and make repairs if necessary.
  2. Run software updates.
  3. BACK UP everything on your hard drive. There are many ways to do this. I suggest using an external drive or another computer on your network.

One important thing I’d like to point out: be sure you use Disk Utility to verify and repair (if necessary) disk permissions. I thought my Mac was all set because I use the Cocktail utility on a weekly schedule. But Disk Utility did find several disk permissions that needed repair. And the Mountain Lion installer wouldn’t launch until I took care of this. Once I did, the installer ran smoothly and there were no problems with the upgrade.

Sometimes problems will be discovered by Disk Utility, but it will be unable to “repair” the disk. One thing that you could do is to reinstall the OS. Again, be sure you back up everything before reinstalling the OS. The “Archive and Install” option is a good way to go: you won’t lose your user accounts and networks settings this way.

The Upgrade Install

The OSX Mountain Lion upgrade installation itself is done via a downloaded file and takes only 45 mins. or so. It’s the precautionary steps and software upgrades that can take more time. Set aside at least 1-2 hours per machine. Follow the onscreen instructions (no need to boot from a disc), and you’ll be all set. The upgrade install allows you to install Mountain Lion over your existing OSX and retain all of your user data, most of your system preferences, and most of your applications. Anything not supported or compatible with the new OSX will naturally be changed by the installer.

A point of clarification regarding the type of disk you can and cannot use to install other OSX: When you purchased a Mac computer in the past, you got a grey disk with all of the OSX install and utilities files. That grey disk can only be used to install the OSX on the the machine it came with. You can use the grey disk to run the utilities files on another machine, but that’s it.

If you are installing Snow Leopard on another machine, you must purchase and use the white retail install disk.

If you need to purchase RAM, check out this website, which is very cool: http://www.crucial.com/

This is a very helpful read: http://www.cultofmac.com/180100/get-your-mac-ready-for-mountain-lion-the-right-way-feature/

Good luck with your upgrade! I hope all goes smoothly.

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