Upgrading to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Jul 20, 2011 - 45 Comments

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Mac OS X Lion is available now and many of us will be upgrading immediately, while others will be waiting. Regardless of when you decide to upgrade to OS X 10.7, you’ll want to update your existing Mac OS X installation, check app compatibility, and backup your data.

Recommended Steps for Upgrading to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Before anything else, verify that your Mac meets the OS X Lion system requirements, which in brief are a Core 2 Duo or higher processor and at least 2GB of RAM.

1) Upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6.8 and get the Mac App Store

You won’t be able to upgrade an existing Mac to Lion without having access to the Mac App Store and 10.6.8:

  • Run Software Update and be updated to Mac OS X 10.6.8 including the Mac App Store
  • Optional: Run Software Update again and get the latest “Migration Assistant” download if you plan to transfer data from a 10.6 Snow Leopard Mac to another Lion equipped Mac

2) Check for App Compatibility and Update Apps

You’ll want to make sure that Lion supports the apps you are dependent on. Most apps should be updated by their developers to support Lion, but you can also quickly check for incompatible apps by looking at System Profiler to identify any PowerPC applications – these won’t work.

3) Backup your Mac and Data

The likelihood of something going wrong during the upgrade is slim, but that’s not the point, you need to backup your data. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

There are a few different approaches to data backups, the easiest method is to just use Time Machine and let it run a full backup. You can force Time Machine to perform a backup manually just by right-clicking on the Time Machine drive and selecting “Backup Now”.

Alternatively, you can use a modernized approach to Gruber’s 4-step method:

  1. Do a complete backup of your existing hard drive by cloning it to an external hard drive, using something like the free tool Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper
  2. Test that the backup is bootable and contains all files as expected
  3. Disconnect the backup drive
  4. Proceed to install Mac OS X Lion

4) Install Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Got your data backed up? Good. Installing OS X Lion is very easy, in fact it’s probably the easiest major Mac OS X upgrade ever. All you need to do is download it from the Mac App Store and launch the installer.

Download Mac OS X Lion from the Mac App Store

This will update your existing 10.6.8 installation to 10.7 and takes about 20 to 40 minutes after it has been downloaded, depending on the speed of your hard drive.

If you want to perform a clean install, or you plan on installing Lion on multiple Macs around your house, the easiest way is to just make an OS X Lion installer USB drive or boot DVD. Both methods allow you to do a fresh installation and save you the hassle of downloading the 4GB again on each Mac.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. bec says:

    im trying to upgrade my computer to at least os x lion 10.7 so all the downloaded shows i have i can watch.. I have read how to do it but cant find where it is in the mac app store to download it..
    im not very apple genius, can anyone help me?

  2. Christopher says:

    The Carbon Copy CCC software for back up is garbage, trash, junk – total crap – use this and kiss your data good bye.

    If you can follow the CCC instructions – better spend you time more productively on doing the calculus for perpetual motion.

  3. Anthony B. says:

    I would like to know if upgrading a mac computer’s osx version includes upgrades for its network drivers or upgrading the network drivers is done separately.

  4. Chris says:

    Ever since I downloaded Lion I am having trouble downloading anything from a browser. It just goes to a black screen – is there a way to get things to go to the downloads folder again?

    Please help!

  5. Anthony says:

    I upgraded my Snow Leopard to Lion..I just realized that its better for me to have it dual-boot..can i return my snow leopard? I think I’m quite sure that I didn’t make any backups.. plz help..thanks..

  6. JDLJDL says:

    Is it possible to update, then transfer all my files and settings back over via Time Machine?
    It seems like that would replace the Lion system files with Snow Leopard ones, no?

  7. Jack Felloney says:

    Can I upgrade from Leopard to Lion?

  8. Paul says:

    Well i updated to lion, I’m very new to Apple and Mac having used PCs all my life and……. and what can i say. i love it and the gestures are really cool …. enjoy everyone

  9. […] Recommended steps when upgrading to OS X Lion – start here, but in summary you should check for system compatibility, backup your Mac, and then upgrade […]

  10. […] a more serious note, if you plan on upgrading to Lion soon, don’t miss our recommended upgrade steps walkthrough. stLight.options({ publisher:'fe5e0a84-1fac-40de-8014-9f89fc1cbe6a' […]

  11. julien says:

    If anyone has a tip on how to disable launchpad and mission control, a bit like it was possible to disable the dashboard in snow leopard, i’d be interested, it’s just eye candy … useless for some users

  12. SD says:

    Uninstal Macfuse ntfs-3g before upgrading to Lion.

    @The Skeptic: Thanks for this info.

    After installation of Lion, I got the error message saying that Bootcamp drive could not be mounted. Is there a solution to fix this problem?


  13. SD says:

    Uninstal Macfuse ntfs-3g before upgrading to Lion.

    @The Skeptic: Thanks for this info.

    But unfortunately, I did not know this before upgrading. Now after installation of Lion, I got the error message saying that Bookcamp drive could not be mounted. Is there a solution to fix this problem?


  14. Peter Wagner says:

    Hi guys,

    has anyone tried to replace a 10.5 Leopard install with a fresh install of 10.7 Lion (via boot DVD) without having zo buy 10.6 Snow Leopard first?
    Of course i have to find someone with Mac App Store to buy and burn Lion to a DVD.
    Do you think this would work?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Matt says:

      As long as you performed a clean install on a bare drive, yes that would work.

      • Peter W. says:

        Can I easily insert the created boot DVD and install Lion over Leopard or do i have to take steps like formating the hdd first?
        Just asking couse you accentuated ‘BARE hard drive’…

        • Matt says:

          You can’t upgrade from Leopard to Lion, but you can perform a clean install on a bare drive. The only version of OS X that can be upgraded from is 10.6.6 or higher.

  15. hippotamamus says:

    yea i’m using tuxera atm, and its working,,

  16. Aim says:

    After I upgraded to Lion, my mac can’t find NTFS external hdd… already install paragon NTFS 9.0 and NTFS-3G

    Does anyone know how to this?

    • Stephen R says:

      Anotehr commenter has reported that MacFUSE does not work with Lion and should be uninstalled. Thus, NTFS-3G will also not work with Lion, as it uses Fuse.

      I can at least partially confirm this. I upgraded this morning, and then running Parallels from a BootCamp partition did not work because the computer would not mount BootCamp. I downloaded the current version of the NTFS-3G installer, installed, rebooted, then uninstalled. Then manually uninstalled MacFuse. Still had to go into the System folder manually and remove NTFS-3G — I think it was in /System/Library/Filesystems

      So it can be fixed. Didn’t take long once I figured out what the problem was.

  17. FredBerk says:

    After installing Lion my mail stopped working. What the.fffff ….. is wrong with it?

  18. Joao says:

    I have installed Mac OS X Lion GM. Do I need to install the original Mac OS X Lion on the App store?

  19. jf says:

    hey,I’m not sure if i’m missing something but I had one finger dragging enabled in snow leopard when I switched to Lion. Now after lion is installed there’s no way to disable it. I noticed this when I enabled three finger dragging in lion. It’s causing me conflicts. On my other macs I disabled the gestures before install to avoid the conflict; now on that mac (macbook air) the intro scroll demo doesn’t work, nor any other two finger gestures. man.

  20. Adam Jon says:

    I plan to do a clean install, as many have recomended. Will Migration Assistant bring all my installed programs back from my Time Machine external hard drive? I checked and made sure they are all compatible with Lion, which they are, but some I would have to pay for again to download them if M.A. doesn’t. Just looking for a little advice.

    • Matt says:

      Migration Assistant should handle this for you, but I would recommend making a separate backup in addition just to be safe.

    • Christo says:

      I’m doing this right now, and I’m still waiting for MA to recognize my TM… It’s recognized two other computers on the network, but not the TM yet… It’s been about 10 min :/

      • Christo says:

        EDIT: Please completely ignore my last post as I am retarded, or I’ve been drinking and am unaware of it.

        The “two other computers” it saw were two TM backups of my computers. I had forgotten I’d changed system names recently.


  21. vale says:

    I’m thorn. Shall I move to the server edition of Mac Os X since the price difference between the client and the server edition of Lion is about 20 bucks?

  22. Jon says:

    Any difference between the GM version and the final release version?

  23. Joren says:

    Also in Belgium, Lion is in the app store when you search for it! :D

  24. Mathew says:

    I am downloading Lion now from UK App store. Its not on the app store home page but you search for Lion and you will see it, enjoy =)

  25. d.a.r.k. says:

    A question about installing Lion in a dual boot system with Snow Leopard (an article by AJ dealt with that recently): Is it necessary to use a different User Name and Password for the Login of the two systems?

    I would differentiate the home directory name (which can’t be changed after installing), by giving them an additional “S” or “L”, but I’m loathe to have different Login-Names every time I change the OS. Am I in trouble, if I don’t?

  26. wizzzard says:

    Paragon NTFS does work in Lion.

    • shahvrob says:

      Doesn’t work in my case. Both my Windows partition AND my external HD cannot be recognized since i’ve installed the Lion. I even uninstalled and reinstalled Paragon NTFS 9.0. Any solutions? Thnx

  27. The Skeptic says:

    One other thing:

    If you have it, uninstall MacFUSE before upgrading. MacFUSE has been abandoned by the creator. It does not work in Lion, and the unsinstall script only works in Leopard or Snow Leopard.

    Without MacFUSE, TrueCrypt and NTFS-3G will not work.

    • Cigdem says:

      HELP !!! I installed Lion today, and my Mail does not work anymore :( Is anyone else having this problem ? Does anyone know the solution ?

      • Jman says:

        me too. find any help yet?

        • Paul says:

          Hi, was having same issues, unbelievably I simply checked for software update, there is one for iTunes and after downloading new iTunes and then trying mail again it worked!! Don’t know if this was the issue but it did work.

    • SD says:

      @The Skeptic: Thanks for this info. But unfortunately, I did not know this before upgrading. Now after installation of Lion, I got the error message saying that Bookcamp drive could not be mounted. Is there a solution to fix this problem?


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