Prepare a Mac for OS X Mavericks the Right Way

Oct 19, 2013 - 1 Comment

Prepare a Mac for OS X Mavericks

OS X Mavericks is the newest major operating system release for Mac users, versioned as OS X 10.9, and it’s now available as a free download. Packed with over 200 new feature enhancements and refinements, it includes some very handy new features that will make a lot of Mac users happy, ranging from Finder tags, to tabbed Finder windows, to improved battery life and power management. It’s a great release of OS X and all users that can update their Macs should do so, and that’s what we’re going to help you with; preparing your Mac for the OS X Mavericks update.

Mavericks is super easy to install, and it’s similar enough to Mountain Lion that it’s unlikely most users will encounter any trouble with the update regarding app compatibility or system support. Nonetheless, major new operating system releases offer a good time to run through a simple check list to insure compatibility of the Mac itself, your apps, and also to do some general clean up, maintenance, and, perhaps most important of all – back ups.

1: Check Mac System Compatibility

At it’s core, updating to OS X Mavericks requires the following:

  • 64-bit Intel CPU
  • Advanced GPU
  • 8GB of free disk space
  • OS X Lion or OS X Mountain Lion
  • Internet connection so that it can be downloaded from the Mac App Store

If some of that sounds like jargon gibberish, it’s often easier to think in terms of the newness of Mac models. The newer the Mac the better, but here are the basic supported list of hardware:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

The list is quite broad, and if a Mac runs Mountain Lion it will run Mavericks too. But generally speaking, the newer the Mac, the better.

Perhaps the biggest requirement for many users will be having at least 8GB free on the Mac, which can sometimes be cut fairly close with the smaller SSD-based Macs. OmniDiskSweeper is a great tool to help free up available hard drive space, helping you track down what’s eating up drive space – it’s also a free download from here.

2: Install General System Updates & Update Mac Apps

Keeping system updates and apps up to date is good policy for stability and security, but you’ll often get new features too. This can be particularly true when apps have been updated to support new major OS X releases, where a potential new feature built into the operating system may need to be independently included within the apps themselves. Thus, take some time to update your apps.

Updating OS X and your apps through the Mac App Store is remarkably simple:

  • Launch the “App Store” from the Applications folder, Launchpad, or Spotlight
  • Go to the “Updates” tab and choose “Update All”

If you have items in the list you do not want to update for some reason, exclude them with a simple right-click “Ignore Update” trick.

The Mac App Store is obviously simple, but third-party apps downloaded from the web or directly from developers will require you to manually check for updates. Some apps will do this automatically upon launch, and others require another visit to a repository or website to get the latest version.

The good news is that even if you can’t update every single app for some reason or another, it will probably run just fine in OS X Mavericks if it’s currently running in OS X Lion or OS X Mountain Lion.

3: Do Some General System Clean Up

Major OS X updates are a great time to perform some general system maintenance and clean up to help insure things are running in tip-top shape. Much of this is optional, but if you have the time it’s a good idea to perform some cleaning on the Mac:

  • Delete old apps you no longer use, usually tossing them into the Trash is enough but you can do a more thorough uninstall if desired
  • Trash useless old files from the ~/Downloads/ folder
  • Delete unnecessary caches from user folders and old apps
  • Clean up files from the desktop, either throw them all into a ‘cleanup’ folder or individually into their appropriate places in your home directory – this is an easy task that helps to speed up older Macs
  • Consider running a free app like OmniDiskSweeper to track down large files eating up hard disk space and recover the capacity

All together it won’t take much time to complete, and you’ll be left with a Mac that has more available drive capacity, less clutter, and often better performance too.

4: Back Up with Time Machine

Last but certainly not least, back up the Mac. Having back ups of your important data and files is critical, and Apple’s Time Machine feature makes it so easy to backup everything that there is little reason not to do it. Always, always, back up your Mac before installing a major system update. It’s unlikely something will go wrong, but if something does go haywire you can quickly recover if you have a fresh backup handy.

It’s good to run a thorough backup or set up Time Machine if you haven’t done so yet, but don’t forget to initiate a quick backup immediately before running the OS X Mavericks installer too. This insures that all recent changes will be kept in the odd event that something goes wrong.

If you want to be extra cautious with backups, consider setting up a redundant backup using multiple drives with Time Machine, a very easy process that basically provides an automatic backup of your backups. Another redundant backup option would to be use a third party paid service that backs up to the cloud, like CrashPlan or Dropbox.

That’s about it, so go ahead and download and enjoy OS X Mavericks, free is a great price for a great operating system update!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. Greg says:

    This is the most comprehensive but easy to follow instructions I have found after 24 hours of searching.
    My sincere thanks for your efforts.

    Greg.

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