Save Your Bandwidth! Prevent OS X Lion Installer From Self-Destructing!



Here’s a little known fact about the OS X Lion installer — it self-destructs after it completes the OS X Lion installation and if you are on a limited or capped ISP data plan that sucks. Especially if you plan on upgrading more than one Mac in your home or office. Luckily, you don’t need to download the OS X Lion installer on each computer and waste precious data or time.

You only need to download it once if you follow this quick and easy tip before installing OS X Lion the first time.

The fix is simple. All you need to do is make a backup copy of the installer application that was downloaded from the Mac App Store before you allow it to upgrade your Mac. If you’ve already updated your Mac to OS X Lion it is probably to late, but we’ll know in a moment about that.

If you’ve downloaded and installed OS X Lion check your Applications folder after the update to see if the Install Mac OS X Lion application still exists on your Mac. If it doesn’t you’ll have to re-download it again. If it does exist then you can use these steps to make a backup copy or to locate a copy of it you can copy to other Macs that need to be updated.

Here’s how to make a backup copy of the OS X Lion installer:

  • If you haven’t already go purchase and download the OS X Lion update from the Mac App Store.
  • Once the download is complete it should automatically execute.  Do not press the Continue button on the installer.
  • Open the Applications folder on your Mac startup drive. Locate the Install Mac OS X Lion  installer application. Click it once to select it.

  • Now press CMD+D to make a duplicate copy of the installer which should be named Install OS X Lion Copy

  • Drag the copy of the OS X Lion installer with copy on the end of the file name to your Documents or Download folder.

You now have a backup copy of the OS X Lion Installer safely tucked away in one of the above folders. You can copy that file to any Mac that needs the OS X Lion update, change the name to the original without copy appended to it, and use it to update as many Macs as Apple allows. However, it will only work as long as you use the same Apple ID used to purchase the upgrade on each of those Macs.

Apple’s Gold Master exhibited this feature during testing. I haven’t tested this yet on the version of  Mac OS X Lion from the Mac App Store, but since according to my sources the Gold Master and released version are completely identical I expect it to exhibit the same bad behavior. I personally think that Apple should have made the auto self-destruct mechanism optional especially when so many broadband users these days have data caps.

Although this won’t prevent the installers eventual self-destruction at least you’ll have a backup copy to use again. Finally, If a data cap applies to you then using this method to upgrade multiple Macs will definitely be a bandwidth saver for you!

  • Baghdadbythebay

    <sigh> now you tell me. I just installed it.</sigh>

  • Elliot George

    :L ditto 

  • SpongebobUK

    There was a post earlier in the week on cult of mac pointing to… which I followed with success today. If you copy the installESD.dmg file from the shared support folder rather than the whole package then you don’t trip over the licence issues.

    As other posters have already noted, it sucks if you didn’t know about the self destruct before hand. Given though that you can download a number of times with the same Apple Id, I wonder if you could just restart a download from the app store? 

  • Abdulla Al-Ameeri

    I installed Lion. Didn’t have any problems at all. It is working perfectly fine, and the download and installation was very smooth. 

  • m_ove

    Great, I just installed it and then read this post, damn I still have 2 other Macs to install it on, oh well back to downloading!

  • appledrunk

    You can also simply make a bootable DVD that you can use anytime to install Lion on a Mac:

  • Peter

    What ever happened to ‘it just works’?

  • twitter-28439603

    Why duplicate it, why not just OPTION-DRAG it to copy?

  • Dion Lane Smith

    I read this after downloading Lion and it disappeared.  I did find that if you Option Click Purchases in AppStore than you can download again.

  • Jose Leo

    for those of you that did not make a bootup or startup disk before installing, you can re download by going to the app store, and hitting option purchaased and download it again

  • Brian Moore

    I downloaded & installed it on my 2010 13″ MPB. But I FORGOT to make a copy… TOO LATE… But, I found out, if you have your computers on the same network, I just logged into my Apple account after opening APP Store of the other computer (Mac Mini), I was able to upgrade the Mac Mini WITHOUT having to buy it again. It was there, just said INSTALL( not buy & install). So I clicked on install, it downloaded, and this time I did make a copy, but I installed it on the Mini…
    From what I understand, you are allowed to install on all of your own personal computers.

  • onegiantleap

    I just installed, so the file was gone. BUT – I could recover it from Time Machine backup, it could be found in the program folder.

  • Brian

    Same thing happened to me…coming from Windows, I had no idea that the installation package would be gone after installation.  For a file of this size, Apple should give at least some warning.  I downloaded it again last night on my slower home connection and it took 12+ hours.  Not a big deal, but in this new age of online software Apple needs to consider those of us that don’t have large internet pipes coming into our homes – especially for the large files.  Just a warning would have been nice.

  • Jeff Stoddard

    I was able to recover from my Time Machine backup as well, thanks for the tip!!!

  • Chris Jones

    Time Machine was my friend :-) Downloaded then did a time machine backup before install, and lo-&-Behold, there it was

  • Neil_Jones

    You can if its not already installed

  • Neil_Jones

    Damnit why didn’t I look at this first. I have a crap connection at home 2mb down and 0.27mb up. I had to download at work which took 4 minutes but I wont be able to do this all the time and don’t want to have to!

  • Marcello Valentino

    The dmg file does not work when written to disk.
    after the lion install starts, it says it will reboot in 23 min, then the usual popup : Can’t download the additional components needed to install Mac OS X.

    Any Ideas?

  • Yogesh Agrawal

    Does the same apply for other app downloaded from mac app store for example xcode

  • ryan coleman

    “A newer version of this app is already installed on this computer

    If you want to replace it with this version, move the existing app to the trash.”

    Because it doesn’t work.

  • 0157h7

    Did you ever get around this problem?

  • Weeto

    Just tried this, but the copied version is 146Mb, versus the original 3.77Gb. I’ve done as you said, but have also right clicked on the original and burnt it to disk.


  • rcMike

    Option-Drag copies if you drag it to a separate hard drive.  Option-Drag moves the file if you do within the same disk.