Preparing Your Mac for OS X Lion

July 14, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Mac OS X Lion is set for release this summer, the first major update to the Apple desktop and notebook operating system since 2008. Due to the length of time since the last release, there are some particularly important changes being introduced, not least the end of support for old apps that are currently given compatibility via Rosetta.

In addition, the system requirements are changing once again, which means that only Macs with multicore processors (the lowest option being the Inter Core 2 Duo) will be able to run this new version. If you purchased your Mac in the last two or three years then you should be okay to upgrade to the next generation of OS X, but to make sure you can easily click the Apple menu on your desktop and click About This Mac. The details listed here will inform you as to whether or not you can upgrade: if the Intel Core Duo (the forerunner of the Intel Core 2 Duo) or any processor with a G at the beginning is listed then it’s time for a new Mac or to stick to the older OS X version.

Prepare your Mac for OS X Lion

Do I Need to Upgrade My Old Apps?

Not only will Macs with PowerPC processors be unable to upgrade to OS X Lion, users of older apps that currently rely on the Rosetta tool for compatibility will be left disappointed.

Any app that originates from the PowerPC era of Mac OS X is now no longer supported, which will necessitate quite a few upgrades. But how can you tell what type of app you are running?

This is best discovered via Apple > About This Mac > System Profiler; in the left-hand pane, you will find the Applications section, an index of all installed software. On the right-most side you will see a label, Intel, Universal or PowerPC. If you app is labeled as PowerPC you will need to look for an upgrade for this this on the developer’s website, in order to use it in Lion.

If you use Rosetta regularly to access older software, then upgrading to Mac OS X Lion is only something you should be doing if you have taken steps to upgrade your older software and have been able to transfer any data saved within it.

How to Ensure Top Performance

In addition to requiring a top quality processor for running OS X Lion, you will also need to take a look at disk space and RAM. At least 2 GB of RAM is required for Lion, while 4 GB will give you the best option for performance. As with any new software, you should also make sure that you have enough hard disk space for installing Lion.

This last point is also combined with my final suggestion: make sure you have a fast Internet connection before upgrading to Mac OS X Lion. This is the first update that is available purely via the new Mac App Store, which means that there will be no DVD release of the new OS.

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