Don’t upgrade to Lion until you’ve read this

With the recent release of the Golden Master version, it looks like Lion will be officially released either this week or next. Before rushing into upgrading though, take a deep breath and consider some of the following to ensure you have no nasty surprises:

  • Lion will only upgrade if you’re running OS X 10.6.8.
  • Your processor must be an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon CPU.
  • You must have at least 2GB of RAM.

If you’re unsure about these 3 basic requirements, click on the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and select About This Mac:

If all of the above are correct then consider the following:

  • Obtain an Apple ID. If you’re an iTunes user, you’ll already have one but if not, you’ll have to create one because for the first time, Apple are releasing a new operating system via the net i.e. The Mac App Store.
  • Have a credit card ready. Lion costs $29.99. If you don’t have a credit card, you can use an iTunes gift voucher. Note that Apple Gift cards will not work in The Mac App Store.
  • Make sure you have at least 8GB of free hard drive space. If you’re need to clean some space but can’t quite identify which files are taking-up so much room, try DaisyDisk or OmniDiskSweeper (which is now free).
  • Backup your hard drive. If something should go wrong with the installation of Lion, it’s essential that you have a backup of your data. Time Machine comes free with OS X and is ideal for this or alternatively, Super Duper! is another excellent backup tool.
  • Lion doesn’t support PPC Macs so Rosetta Apps won’t work with it. If you’re running older versions (usually 5 years or more old) of any of the following and can’t afford to upgrade them to an Intel version, don’t install Lion just yet as they either won’t work or you will experience problems with them: Creative Suite, Quicken 2007, Microsoft Office 2008, Rosetta Stone Language Software, Freehand and Appleworks. For a breakdown of which major apps are and aren’t compatible with Lion, check here.
  • Have some updated Printer Drivers handy. Since some older printer drivers require Rosetta to work, you may find that your printer doesn’t work with Lion. You should be able to find updated drivers on the developer website although if the printer is really old, you’ll be out of luck.
  • Be extra cautious if you use Apple Mail or Aperture. Both applications are particularly sensitive to OS changes as was illustrated with Mail when Snow Leopard arrived. It may be worth waiting at least a few weeks before upgrading to Lion if you rely on either or both and can’t afford to waste time re-configuring them.
  • Throw away your Magic Mouse and buy a Magic Trackpad (about $69). Well, you don’t have to throw away your Magic Mouse but you’ll probably feel like it if you’ve ever used a Magic Trackpad. Lion has been optimized to be more like using an iPhone so you’ll miss out on many gesture features if you don’t have a Magic Trackpad although it’s not essential.

If you are concerned about teething issues when upgrading, the best single piece of advice is simply wait! Most of the problems with Snow Leopard were ironed-out within a month-or-so of the release and so if you’re not desperate to have Lion on your Mac immediately, take it easy.

There are bound to be issues that arise after upgrading, so if you discover any when Lion is released, let us know in the comments below!

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