Can I Dual-Boot My Mac But Share Apps and User Data? [Ask MacRx] | Cult of Mac

Can I Dual-Boot My Mac But Share Apps and User Data? [Ask MacRx]

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Apple operates under the philosophy that the latest and greatest OS is what everybody should use, but many of us prefer to try things out first and upgrade a bit more slowly. When you dual-boot your Mac among two different versions of Mac OS X some things will work fine, while others require one system or the other:

I’m running Snow Leopard 10.6.8 on a MacBook Pro 3,1 and I just got a new 750GB, 7200rpm drive to put in. Can I create say a 100GB OS X 10.7 Lion partition and share the apps / data from the 10.6.8 partition?

I think this may mess with the documents, i.e., if they’re modified in 10.7, will 10.6.8 be able to access them again? How about apps? Can I create aliases for apps and data in Lion that link to the data in 10.6.8 or am I asking for trouble? I don’t want to have duplicates of everything but, I still want to get accustomed to Lion.

Any thoughts would be appreciated, Ned

Hi Ned,

You won’t have a problem sharing your user data between Snow Leopard and Lion; files are simply opened by individual applications and changed as needed. The OS itself doesn’t affect your documents. Note that you will need separate copies of the Apple Address Book/iCal/Mail databases in each system.

Some applications will launch fine from a non-boot partition or drive, others won’t run. Depends whether there are support files and background processes needed and not present, or missing authorizations. The Adobe CS applications may have problems working the way you describe. You might just want to install your Lion test system on an external drive to play with, then upgrade your primary system when ready.

Thanks for your help. I think your advice is probably the sanest as this is my only computer and Lion still has a lot of kinks to be worked out.