How To: Make Sure Your Mac Is Ready For OS X Lion

Posted in Apple News, OS X on 14/06/2011 by J. Glenn Künzler


Lion is here ($29.99, App Store Link) – it has finally arrived, and while I’m sure the meager $30 price tag won’t stand in your way, I do challenge you all with this one question: are you ready? Below we will provide some tips and tricks for prepping your system for Lion.

Mac OS X Lion

Apple has already spelled out what we should expect from Lion – a Mac App Store-based install, a boatload of new and revised features, the dropping of Rosetta/PowerPC support…the list goes on. With the release of Lion likely only a couple of weeks away, here’s what you can to do make sure you’re ready to roll when the time comes.

Make Sure Your Mac Is Compatible With Lion.

If your Mac was purchased in 2006 or later, you should be OK to install Lion, but be aware of the system requirements: OS X Lion requires no less than a Core 2 Duo processor or better – something which you can check by clicking the Apple Menu and selecting “About This Mac.” Users of older Macs, or non-Intel macs simply will not be able to upgrade to Lion.

Make Sure You’re Running Snow Leopard

Users of OS X 10.5 Leopard take note: you’ll need to upgrade to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (and make sure it’s upgraded to the latest version – 10.6.8) in order to be able to upgrade to Lion. This is due to the fact that, among other things, OS X Snow Leopard was the first version of OS X to support the Mac App Store. Fortunately, Snow Leopard costs just $29, and can still readily be obtained.

Get Ready To Gesture

If you’re on a MacBook, you’re in good shape here, as you’ll be able to take advantage of the full array of gestures offered in OS X 10.7 Lion. Those of you running desktop Mac’s, however, may want to consider investing in a Magic Trackpad. Gesturing is pivotal to the full OS X Lion experience, so those left without a trackpad may also be left without the ability to truly experience all that OS X Lion has to offer. While the Magic Mouse does offer some gestures, it won’t support all of OS X Lion’s gestures, and certainly won’t provide the same experience as a trackpad.

Make Sure Your Software Is Compatible

Some third party applications are inevitably going to be broken in the initial release of OS X Lion – it’s a fact of life. Sometimes, it’s up to the developer to implement support for a new OS, while sometimes a software update will fix the issue. At any rate, you may want to consider keeping a working install of OS X Snow Leopard on another partition just in case.

Kiss Rosetta Goodbye

Mac OS X Lion will be dropping support for Rosetta – the emulator than enabled previous versions of OS X to run PowerPC code. All PowerPC support has been removed from Lion, so be aware that you’ll need to find alternatives for any older PowerPC-based apps you might still be using – this is progress, people, come on!

You can check to see if you have any old PowerPC code on your system by going to the Apple Menu, selecting “About This Mac”, clicking on “More Info”, and browsing to Software > Applications in the left sidebar. This will show you every application on your Mac, and the “Kind” column will tell you what they’ll run on. Apps labeled “Universal” or “Intel” are the only ones that will run on OS X Lion, and if there’s anything marked PowerPC on your list, it will be history when you upgrade. You have been warned.

Wait It Out

Now you’re ready for Lion, and you, like the rest of us, merely have to (impatiently) wait for your download to finish, then $30 and one click later (App Store Link), and you’ll be made in the shade – that is to say, if Apple’s servers can keep up with the tremendous demand for bandwidth.

Are you going to buy OS X Lion? Will you buy it right away, or wait for the first update? I already have it, so do you have any Lion-related questions for us? Sound off in the comments!

  • Will installing Lion through the app store be just like a software update? Or will it act as a completely fresh install of the OS?

    • That’s a great question – You can install it as an upgrade, which will largely preserve your programs and setting from Snow Leopard, or you can perform a fresh install, where the Mac restarts to complete its task.

  • Sully

    Thanks for the article,, just one question do I have to reinstall my applications such as Photoshop, Autocad when I upgrade to OS X Lion? 

    • No – if you install it as an upgrade, you should be able to keep your programs and settings intact.

    • Nope.  They’ll all continue to work.

  • i have a Black MacBook 13′ inch late 2008. i’ve checked everything and i think i’m ready to install Lion, but…
    my trackpad is dying. the botton does not respond very often, and i can only use 2 fingers on it. because of that (and most importantly, because i’m a graphic designer), the last weekend i bought a Magic Mouse and i’m having a very good time using it. the gestures works like heaven!
    but does it mean i have to buy a Magic Trackpad to enjoy Lion’s gestures?? i don’t want to buy (now) a Magic Trackpad, i’m happy with my Magic Mouse…
    answer me please 😀

    • Of course you don’t have to buy a magic trackpad – but you might enjoy using one with Lion.

  • Niko360

    I will be updating on day 1 of Lion but I will be doing a fresh install of snow leopard to clean up my MBP’s hdd first

  • Chris

    I’d buy it! If I wasn’t already running it lol

    • Mac-CADDIE

      we dont care…people only want to hear from users who do NOT already have it…. and the issues/concerns in upgrading to the new osx.

  • Chris

    I’d buy it! If I wasn’t already running it lol

  • Jbartschi

    I’ll update the minute it’s available in the Mac App Store.

  • What if I ever want to reinstall my MacBook that came with Tiger? Would I have to install Tiger, then update to Leopard, then to Snow Leopard and then download Lion again or will there be an easier option?
    Also what will the download be? A DMG like the Developer Previews that you can burn to a DVD or recover on a partition somewhere and then boot from?

    • Its unclear – I suppose we’ll all find out when it launches.  The file will be a bundle, and it is possible to extract a portion of it (called ESD, which is a .dmg file) and burn that to a disc and boot from it.

    • Its unclear – I suppose we’ll all find out when it launches.  The file will be a bundle, and it is possible to extract a portion of it (called ESD, which is a .dmg file) and burn that to a disc and boot from it.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be upgrading as soon as it’s available.  It looks amazing.

  • Lyrajf

    I’ll be waiting for the first round of updates. It’s foolhardy (unless it’s part of your job to stay absolutely on the brink of new tech.) to do otherwise, but I am excited!

  • faith

    I do not have Snow leopard, so will I have to buy it in order to buy Lion? Since I do not have the App store, will Lion be available to buy in Apple Stores?

    • Lion will not be availble in Apple Stores – only on the Mac App Store.  To upgrade, you’ll need to install Snow Leopard, update it to the latest version through Software Update, and then purchase Lion through the Mac App Store.  Keep a watch on the news, as Apple (or a tech blog) might find an easier way.

    • No need to get SL probably

      Apple will probably come out with a disk box set soon. Most likely only if you want to download on day one will you need SL so you ca access the app store.

  • Bevan

    I will buy it the minute I know it is available.

  • Nic

    thank you for those helpful information. may I ask if application download from iphone/ipad eg. good reader etc will be affected?

  • Jpedreira88

    Do i have to buy lion for each of my apple computers?

    • No.  One purchase will install on every computer that you have authorized for the Mac App Store under the same account.

  • Jpedreira88

    Do I have to buy lion for each of my macbooks, or can i use the same purchase for both of them? and how could i do that? thanks

    • Should be able to use the same purchase, with the same Apple ID

  • Jpedreira88

    Do I have to buy lion for each of my macbooks, or can i use the same purchase for both of them? and how could i do that? thanks

  • Anonymous

    just one simple question:
    If I am going with fresh install ideally it should wipe my hard disk and perform fresh install. Now if installer is residing on hardisk and I am going for fresh install, it will wipe the installer also.Then how installer will work?

    • The only true way to do a fresh install: 

      • catalyst

        page not found :^(

      • Keep up the excellent piece of work, I read few content on this web site and I conceive that your blog is really  interesting and holds lots of great information.

  • Neat website to check what apps have been tested on Lion –

  • 2 gigs minimum RAM – for what.

    • Any modern computer with les than 2GB of RAM is pretty much incapable of running the operating system along with modern apps.

  • hi there i have a mac book, 13inch, will i be able to have all the trackpad options in lion when it’s released, as i am worried that the macbook i have has a track pad but also has the old school button on the bottom of the trackpad. cheers

  • Meandmyhouse

    I’m currently running Leopard (and hadn’t planned to upgrade to Snow Leopard, was waiting for Lion). I see now I have to upgrade to Snow Leopard before I can get Lion. I also see I have some PPC apps (that I don’t want to completely lose – nor spend big bucks to upgrade them.) If I want to keep Snow Leopard, so I can use those apps (they’ll run in SL since they run in Leopard, right), will I still be able to just upgrade to Lion (so all my app settings will be OK and such,) or to put it in a different partition will I have to do something more complicated?

    • You’ll need to keep your Lion and Snow Leopard installs on seperate partitions

  • Victor Hugo Gómez Johnson

    If I have Snow Leopard, the update for Lion will have to be purchase? Or it only be an update?

  • Victor Hugo Gómez Johnson

    If I have Snow Leopard, the update for Lion will have to be purchase? Or it only be an update?

  • i’m going to wait atleast half a year for every third party dev to come up to speed for my main mac. i’ll still be booting of an external firewire 800 disk with lion on it, but my main installation will stay snow leopard for a while…

  • RickieVz

    Will it be possible to copy the software download to cd/dvd disc just in case the system crashes and everything is lost ?

    • yup, the file that the appstore will download is an .app file, which is installed like an application, but it’s not an actual upgrade to lion, cos you can choose at what time you wanna run the .app and go ahead with the install itself.
      it’ll just appear on your dock as an icon, with the text “Install Mac OS X Lion” when you mouse over it

    • You can copy it to a disc to restore by using these instructions: 

  • Tracyshellhammer

    I have two MBP and a desktop, will I need to purchase the download 3 times for a total of $90?

    • Gear

      no…like the other applications from the Mac app store, one purchase gives it to you on all your authorized macs…but you do have to download it on each one

  • Thomas

    How will Lion handle versions? Where are these files stored – and what if you are working with a file server? Can it be disabled?

    And how about auto-save? This feature sounds dangerous to be. What if you want to control save (or not) yourself?

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  • Might not need snow leopard

    You need to have snow leopard to get lion n day one. However, if they come out with a box set of lion after, then most likely there will be no need to have snow leopard.

  • I’ll be waiting to hear how it works with Logic Pro, some of the past OS upgrades have been nightmares.

  • Kinondonird

    I’ll be plunging in at the deep end as soon as it’s available.

  • Kinondonird

    I’ll be plunging in at the deep end as soon as it’s available.

  • Lalinde77

    With Lion if I only upgrade, will it effect my Final Cut Studio 2 ie FCP6, Compressor, etc? I can’t lose those programs. Thx

    • That’s unclear – It’s not listed on any of the compatibility charts I have seen.

  • Lalinde77

    Not sure if I’ll upgrade from day 1…I got burned with FCP X on day 1. Don’t want a repeat of apple’s hidden failures.

  • Rodri_sarzosa

    I’ve a Question!

    Do you consider essential to have a Backup before installing OsX Lion?

    • It’s important to have a backup before making any major upgrade, I’d say.

  • ramramram

    Can i purchase Lion with an iTunes gift card? 

  • Tik Tik

    Will there be any chance that the upgrade will be provided in a CD that can be purchased from Apple resellers? Not all parts of the world have a stable and cheap internet access.

    • No, I very much doubt it.  However, many Apple Retail Stores and Apple Retailers will be allowing customers to use their store’s Wi-Fi connections for this.

  • Leonlai88

    I have photos and music in my macbook pro. Do i lose files if u upgrade to lion?

    • It’s not like that you’d lost files, but I nevertheless recommend that you back everything up that’s important to you.

  • Pingback: Mac OS X Lion Has Arrived! Here's What You Need To Know Before You Download | MacTrast()

  • Already downloading.  Resistance was futile.

  • Ryan

    How do you get access to snow leopard? I’m currently running on leopard and can’t see anywhere on the apple store where I can buy snow to upgrade to lion!! P.s I’m from the UK

    • You can still order discs from, or from the Apple Online Store:

  • Heshammk

    If I’ve got multiple macbooks in my household, will I have to download the Osx Lion everytime I want to install it on a diiferent computer? 

    What about the storage space from the Osx Snow Leopard…wil it be deleted and replaced?

  • Chris

    Does it download as a DMG or installation package that you kick off or does it install automatically?

  • dgmo

    Will my current files be effected in any way?  Also will my WMware (VM Fusion 3) be effected???

    • Just do a full system backup in case something goes wrong – but I doubt either of those would be affected.

  • Tomprice

    old mac’s pre gesture track pads? will they benefit from this of will they need a magic mouse to take advantage of all the new things? is it worth while getting lion is you don’t have the ability to gesture?

  • I will NOT buy it, unlike my earlier upgrades.  I do have a Rosetta based software program.  Not only will it not work with Lion, I am even having problems with my new MacBook Pro–problems I am not having with the older MacBook Pro (which is still living.)  I am beginning to suspect that the Rosetta incompatibility is related to the different track-pad.  IS that possible?  

  • No, I will not.  I’ve not even upgraded yet, but am already having problems with Rosetta software, when using my MacBook Pro with the new trackpad.  Not so the older MacBook Pro.

  • No, I will not.  I’ve not even upgraded yet, but am already having problems with Rosetta software, when using my MacBook Pro with the new trackpad.  Not so the older MacBook Pro.

  • Rupindersingh Goraya

    can all the features of OS X Lion be enjoyed using magic mouse or magic trackpad is essentially required?

    • My advice would be to get a Magic Trackpad.  While the Magic Mouse will work for many purposes, you’ll get the most benefit from Lion’s new gestures and features by using a trackpad.

  • M216sanders

    i updated my MacBook from 2008 w/ snow leopard and then Lion…but now my address book, mail and iCal are not working…any suggestions?

  • I have learned result-oriented things from your blog post. Thanks for your write-up.

  • Sammie-32

    how do i know if snow leopard has installed on my macbook pro? my friend has the same laptop and the white ps3 pad works on his but not on mine, not sure if its my bluetooth setting but its driving me mad!!!!! very mad

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J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.