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5 Tips to Get Your Mac Ready for Mountain Lion

With Mac OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion arriving in July with over 200 new features, you'll definitely want to pay the $19.99 price tag to upgrade your Mac. Before you step up to Mountain Lion, you should take the opportunity to perform some overdue system maintenance.  Installing any new Apple OS is a very streamlined process, but we've collected some simple but often overlooked steps you should take to ensure that the process goes smoothly. 

1. Back Up Your Data

You should always be doing regular backups of your data, but even if you haven't been doing them every week, now's the time. It is very important to make a backup of all of your data before upgrading an operating system because a major overhaul like this can be very stressful to your hard drive and your file system so there's always the chance of losing something. 

To backup all of your data, purchase or use an external hard drive that’s as big or bigger than your internal hard drive. Plug in the external hard drive and turn on Time Machine, a piece of software that has been packaged with Mac OSX 10.5 and up.

1. Open System Preferences.

 2. Open Time Machine.

 3. Click on Select Disk.

4. Select the name of your external HD in the drop-down window. Click on Use Backup Disk on the lower right hand corner of the drop-down window.

2. Check Your Essential Apps

Before your upgrade, check the Mountain Lion support status of your most essential software. Everyone has a handful of apps that they cannot live without. Go to the company website for each of your favorite apps and see if there are any news or forum posts about Mountain Lion.

For example, Skype has announced that they are Mountain Lion ready. If you cannot get confirmation about how your app will behave in Mountain Lion, hold off on upgrading and keep an eye out on the company’s support forum.

3. Have an Ethernet Hookup Ready

The most stable way to upgrade your operating system via the Apple App store is to use an ethernet connection because the connection is more reliable and it will be faster than wireless connections. There have been cases of wireless connections timing out during the middle of Mountain Lion downloads. If you have a Macbook Air, it might be worth it to dish out the dough for an ethernet adapter.

4. Hardware and Software 

Check the hardware and software of your machine and make sure that it is Mountain Lion ready. Go to Apple's site for a list of hardware and software requirements for Mountain Lion.

To check your hardware, go to About This Mac (pictured) by clicking on the Apple menu on the upper right hand side of the screen and click on More Info. Go through each tab and see if your hardware is capable of running Mountain Lion.

Mountain Lion will run on these following machines:

  • iMac (mid 2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, 2.4/2.2 GHz), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later) 

To check your software, go to the Apple menu on the upper right hand corner again and click on Software Update. If you are not someone who diligently does all the software updates, you might want to check again once the system restarts because some software updates only show up when another one is updated. Keep checking until it tells you that there are no more software updates available. 

5. Get Your Apple ID Ready

Since Mountain Lion is an App Store download, make sure you sort out your Apple ID username, password, and credit card information before going to download the new OS. For families with multiple Apple IDs, the best way to keep things separate is by creating different user accounts on the computer to avoid having to sign-in and sign out and accidentally syncing someone else's Apple ID onto the wrong device. Separate user accounts also provide a great way to manage parental controls. 

Do You Get a Free Upgrade?

Have you bought a new computer since June 11, 2012? You can see if you quality for a free copy of Mountain Lion.