Now that Lion has attained “golden master” status, it may be just days before Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.
Only Apple knows the release date –the latest rumors have it on July 14—but you can prepare your Mac now to make the upgrade go faster and smoothly. Here are the steps you can take now before OS X 10.7 hits the Mac App Store.
- Make sure your Mac can handle Lion – Lion’s system requirements are slightly different from Snow Leopard’s, so you need to verify that your Mac can run the new operating system. Select “About This Mac” from the Apple menu, and look at the “Processor” and look at the “Memory” items in the resulting pop-up. Your Mac must have an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon CPU for a processor. As for the memory, you need 2GB or more.
- You must be running Snow Leopard – according to Apple, you can only upgrade to Lion from Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard. For now, Apple hasn’t spelled out any direct upgrade path for users running Leopard, or Mac OS X 10.5, so if you’re using that 2007 operating system, you’ll first need to migrate to Snow Leopard.
- Upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6.8 – having Snow Leopard on your Mac isn’t enough for Lion: you need to update the OS to version 10.6.8, which Apple released last June 23. Apple has said only that 10.6.8 “enhance[s] the Mac App Store to get your Mac ready to upgrade to Mac OS X Lion”, referring to the Mac software download store that Snow Leopard has supported since January and which Apple will use to distribute to Lion. Select “Software Update” from the Apple menu and install 10.6.8.
- Obtain an Apple ID – to download Lion from the Mac App Store, you’ll need an Apple ID. You may already have one – that’s what you use to sign in to iTunes, for instance- but if you don’t, you can create one by providing an email address, password and other information. (Hint: Use a different password for your Apple ID than you do for the email addresses you give; that way, if either your email provider or Apple is hacked, there’s less chance that the criminals can access both).
- Prep the Mac APP Store with a payment option – you’ll also need to provide a payment method for Lion on the Mac App Store. Most users will have assigned a credit card to their Apple ID, but if you don’t have a credit card – or don’t want to give one to Apple – you can buy an iTunes gift card and transfer its funds to the Mac App Store. To do that, click on one of the first three icons at the top of the Mac App Store application – Featured, Top Charts or Categories – the click “Redeem” under the “Quick Links” section at the upper right. Enter the gift card code in the field provided, and then click the Redeem button. Note: Apple Gift Cards, which are redeemable only at Apple retail stores and its online store, cannot be used for the Mac App Store.