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Installing OS X Lion: The Short List of Gotcha’s

It’s been a wild ride for the past 24 hours since Apple released OS X Lion. For those of you contemplating the move, here’s the short answer: Just Do It… after you make a backup.

A lot has changed and much has improved. On the pricing front, it’s one of the best bargains available at $29.99. That’s the price to load it on all your Macs, not just one. You’ll need to get a current version of Snow Leopard running on your existing Mac before you can install Lion because you need access to the Mac App Store for this download-only software. For those still using a PowerPC-based Mac, sorry. And say goodnight to Rosetta-based apps as well. The road ends at Snow Leopard for you. For everyone else, it’s a No Brainer!

There are a few things you need to know before you begin the install. First, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have any PowerPC-only apps that you desperately need because those are all toast once you move to Lion. Of course it’s been 6 years since Apple began the transition to Intel from the PowerPC so this shouldn’t be overly traumatic for most folks. The major apps that won’t work include Adobe Creative Suite (CS2 and earlier), AppleWorks, FileMaker Pro (version 8 and earlier), MacroMedia Studio and Freehand, Microsoft Office (2004 and X versions), Quicken (almost everything… lazy bastards!), and some older games. You can check for compatibility by selecting each app in your Applications folder and choosing Get Info. In the Kind field, if it says Universal or Intel, you’re O.K. If it says PowerPC, you’re S.O.L.

The second cautionary note concerns the Migration Assistant. This is an Apple utility that lets you migrate your data from one Mac to another. If you plan to transfer your data from another Mac to the new Mac on which you are installing OS X Lion, then you first must get the other Mac updated to Mac OS X 10.6.8. Otherwise, you cannot migrate the data as part of the Lion install. You’ll also need to install the updated Migration Assistant on this other Mac running Snow Leopard 10.6.8. Here’s the link to download the new Migration Assistant from Apple.

The final gotcha you need to be aware of is that the OS X Lion installer self-destructs once the install is complete. If you want to burn a copy of OS X Lion to either a DVD or an 8GB USB Thumb Drive, you must do so before you kick off the actual install by clicking on the Continue prompt on your Desktop. Once you purchase OS X Lion, a copy of the installer will be downloaded into your Applications folder. It’s called Install Mac OS X Lion.app. The links above will tell you what to do next. Or you can wait until August and Apple will sell you a Lion Thumb Drive for $69. 🙄

To play it safe, cancel the install after making your DVD or thumb drive. Then reboot while holding down the Option key and choose the DVD or USB installer you just made to perform the install. In this way, you’ll know you have a good installer to use with your other Macs. Then you can preserve it for posterity. At this point, the original installer still will be available in your Applications. But, be aware, it still will be deleted at the end of the install even if you’re using a DVD or thumb drive. So rename it if you want to preserve it.

Where to Go Next. The premiere platform for getting all of the latest and greatest tips on Lion (and almost everything else) is Google’s new Google+. We’d love to help you get started. Read our Google Plus article for some great tips.

Want an invite? Just drop us a note and include the word Google in your message. We’ll get one out to you promptly. Once you’re signed up, be sure to circle us for the latest tips and tricks.

Originally published: Thursday, July 21, 2011

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  1. "For those still using a PowerPC-based Mac"

    Did you mean "for those still using PowerPC-Based software via rosetta"?

    I think leopard, not snow leopard was the end for those using PowerPC Macs.

    [WM: Thanks. Wasn’t written as well as it should have been.]

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