How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

Apple’s latest jungle cat is called Mountain Lion, and the new version of OS X is available as a $20 purchase in the Mac App Store. If you’ve updated to a new version of OS X before, you know that getting everything in order isn’t always as easy as Apple makes it out to be. In this how-to guide, Cult of Mac will show you how to get your Mac ready to install OS X Mountain Lion the right way.

Note: For this guide, we’re going to assume that you’re already running Lion (10.7.x), although Mountain Lion (10.8) can be installed via the Mac App Store on select Macs running Snow Leopard 10.6.8. Check in Software Update to make sure you’re running the latest version of either Lion or Snow Leopard before attempting to install Mountain Lion.

Requirements

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

Here are the specific Mac models that are compatible with Mountain Lion:

  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

If you’re on one of the above Macs, you’ll also need a minimum of 2GB of RAM (at least 4GB is preferred) and a minimum of 8GB of free space on your Mac’s hard drive. All of your system information can be found in OS X’s System Profiler. You can also open “About This Mac” under the “” menu in Finder for quick access to your Mac’s current specs.

To free up space on your drive, try a tool like DaisyDisk.

Compatibility Check

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

Whenever a major new version of a desktop operating system comes out, there will inevitably be certain third-party apps and peripherals that are not supported out of the gate. And nothing will make you want to pull your hair out after upgrading to Mountain Lion like not being able to open a program or use an attached device you rely on every day. Professionals who need niche apps and peripherals for their Macs should do some serious research before upgrading to a new version of OS X. While most developers will add compatibility over time, you never known when a driver could just stop working. If there’s a possibility Mountain Lion could comprise your specific work flow, hold off on upgrading. For the majority of users, there shouldn’t be any major compatibility problems.

RoaringApps has a great list of third-party Mac apps and their current Lion/Mountain Lion compatibility status. Make sure to check the Mountain Lion column on the far right to see if the program you need is compatible. For instance, it looks like there may be some Mountain Lion compatibility issues with Adobe’s Creative Suite.

Backup

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

If you haven’t already backup up your Mac’s hard drive, do so now. For external drives, the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk is a solid option with 3TB of space for only $140. Apple’s Time Machine is already baked into OS X, and once you connect a backup drive to your Mac, you’ll be able to use Time Machine to easily save and restore your data. Your files shouldn’t be deleted when you upgrade to Mountain Lion, but it’s always a good idea to have a secondary (and even third) backup on hand if a full restore is needed. For another solution, cloud services like Carbonite will let you wirelessly backup your files and access them online for a small monthly fee.

Cleanup

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

While not necessary, it’s a good idea to tidy up your Mac before making the jump to Mountain Lion. Unless you’re already anal about your setup, there’s probably a lot of files lying around that can be sent to the Trash. Check your Downloads folder and similar locations for stuff you don’t care about bringing with you when you upgrade.

If you have FileVault enabled, disable it before upgrading to Mountain Lion. The install process will be much smoother and you’ll help prevent any unwanted headaches. You can also verify disk permissions in Disk Utility and run Software Update again to make sure everything is healthy and up to date.

Download

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

Now that you’re ready for Mountain Lion, it’s time to go grab it in the Mac App Store. Mountain Lion costs $19.99, but anyone who bought a Mac from June 11, 2012 onward is eligible to get a free copy from Apple.

Mountain Lion is a 4.05GB installer, so be aware of how long it may take to download on slower networks.

Install

How To Install Mountain Lion On Your Mac The Right Way [Feature]

Once Mountain Lion has been downloaded to your Mac, it’s a very simple installation process. Just open the installer, follow the instructions, and let your Mac reboot. Installing could take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours, so be prepared to wait. None of your personal data should be erased, and Mountain Lion should greet you once your Mac is done rebooting.

Got any more tips for installing Mountain Lion? Let us know in our forums or the comments!

  • Aidan Taylor

    Sucks when you cant upgrade hardware.. =[

  • Stuka_UK

    Tomorrow my Mac Pro 2006 will do a Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner.

  • Peter MacLeod

    My 2006 Mac Pro 1,1 runs ML just fine. Just search for instructions on the net.

  • Oxymoron

    My iMac (2007) is on the list. Never thought that a computer works well that long. You can think what you want of Apple, but their OS is great!

  • MrSarcy

    One unexpected ‘bonus’ of upgrading to Lion was that Apple had changed the specs for AFP which meant my WDTVLive could no longer stream video from a share on my Mac. And Filemaker suddenly started generating invoice dates in Kanji. So here’s a lesson: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Upgrade It. I don’t see anything useful in Mountain Lion anyway.

  • Stuka_UK

    Peter MacLeod wrote…

    My 2006 Mac Pro 1,1 runs ML just fine. Just search for instructions on the net.

    Peter – I searched as you suggested, and found it doesn’t run on some video cards at all, and where it does the instructions are complex to say the least… You need to elaborate when you make such statements or else you give false hope.

  • RudyHooks

    you can do all of this and then wait, or go to a torrent site and download now for free lol

  • ithacaindy

    I just learned my late 2006 iMac doesn’t make Apple’s compatibility list for Mountain Lion. Is there a way to sneak it past the picky installer?

  • ithacaindy

    I just learned my late 2006 iMac doesn’t make Apple’s compatibility list for Mountain Lion. Is there a way to sneak it past the picky installer?

  • Tallest_Skil

    I just learned my late 2006 iMac doesn’t make Apple’s compatibility list for Mountain Lion. Is there a way to sneak it past the picky installer?

    It’s a physical impossibility, first, and second, there’s a reason it was dropped.

  • Ed_Kel

    I just learned my late 2006 iMac doesn’t make Apple’s compatibility list for Mountain Lion. Is there a way to sneak it past the picky installer?

    Sure there is a way – buy a new Mac.

  • apisch

    I upgraded my mini using Splashtop remote desktop from my iPhone while I sat at work, but just like last summer, the desktop client isn’t supported by the new operating system, so I have no idea what my computer is doing right now. boooooo.

  • Buster

    you can do all of this and then wait, or go to a torrent site and download now for free lol

    but that’s illegal….

  • Shashank Tripathi

    If my terrible experience with Lion and its ridiculous “Kernel task” memory hog is anything to go by, there is only ONE WAY to install a new OSX: fresh install. Wipe everything, install afresh, and save yourself countless hours of tearing your hair out.

  • Shashank Tripathi

    My iMac (2007) is on the list. Never thought that a computer works well that long. You can think what you want of Apple, but their OS is great!

    Well Lion was NOT a great OS by any stretch. Look at the sheer volume of Apple forums that had issues with Lion’s “Kernel Task”. Hope ML is better.

  • Boo Radley

    Am I on glue or are mountain lions not jungle cats?

  • Boo Radley
    you can do all of this and then wait, or go to a torrent site and download now for free lol

    but that’s illegal….

    And it’s only $20. Seriously.

  • Tallest_Skil

    Am I on glue or are mountain lions not jungle cats?

    Why does that matter?

  • shade/ohio

    does installing moutain lion will delete my data on my imac ?

  • aquabob

    This ML isn’t as well behaved as the Lion I installed last year when it took only me once to get that installed. Tried several times today to get ML installed on my 2010 MBP and still no luck… It complained about not being able to verify the copies I downloaded and re-downloaded from the App Store. When I finally got the copy that can be verified, I tried to install it from the DVD I copied that download to, but it said “Could not find installation information for this machine, Contact AppleCare” after it said “… your computer’s eligibility will be verified with Apple.”

  • JKL

    Any bugs so far?

  • case

    After downloading and installing and updating apps , I found that Aperture, iPhoto and iMovie were showing very dark pictures while the same pictures on Pixelmator remained normal. The Chrome Browser is now so slow it is useless.

    When I decided to forget Mountain Lion for now, I found out my back ups of snow leopard, which are on a different partitions of the same hard drive, had also been updated with new versions of Aperture and iMovie as well. That is a disaster as the new versions only work with mountain lion not snow leopard. Now I’m stuck can’t go forward or backwards.

  • walterhalljr

    HELP… Trying to get Mountain Lion and the following pops up on the screen when I hit buy app: Cannot complete your purchase as The product distribution file could not be verified. It may be damaged or was not signed.

    Any ideas, recommendations etc?????

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About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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