OS X Lion made its public debut way back in July 2011, while Mountain Lion dropped the following year. Both were significant releases, introducing AirDrop, the App Store, FaceTime and emoji support.
You can’t run these releases natively on recent machines (anything that launched with Mavericks or later), but if you have an older Mac that still gets some use, their continued availability can be incredibly handy.
You may also want to use them to run older Mac software in a virtual machine. And now that’s even easier, with Apple dropping their previous $19.99 price tags.
OS X Lion and Mountain Lion now free to download
OS X Lion works with Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processors and requires a minimum 2GB of RAM and 7GB of storage. Mountain Lion works on the following machines:
- iMac (Mid 2007-2020)
- MacBook (Late 2008 aluminum, early 2009 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/late 2007 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
- Xserve (Early 2009)
Anything that launched with OS X Mavericks preinstalled is too new to run Lion or Mountain Lion.
Apple updates now free to all
Mountain Lion was the last Mac update that users had to pay to download. Its successor, OS X Mavericks, was a free upgrade for all compatible machines — just as subsequent releases have been.
Lion is now the earliest version of OS X still available to download from Apple. Snow Leopard, its predecessor, and earlier releases have since been removed from Apple’s website.