Installing Lion: a complete guide

You just download it directly from the Mac App Store

Apple's Mac OS X Lion.

Apple's Mac OS X Lion.

At long last, Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) is available, and unlike previous versions of the Mac OS, getting it doesn't involve driving to the nearest Apple Store or retailer, or waiting for the FedEx truck to arrive — you just download it directly from the Mac App Store. The installation process itself is also easier and faster, requiring just a few clicks to install Lion over your existing copy of Snow Leopard. But just because Lion is the easiest-to-install version of Mac OS X yet doesn't mean you should make the jump without any preparation, or that there are no important decisions to make along the way.

We've installed Lion more times than we can count, on a variety of Mac models, in order to put together a guide that we hope will make the transition painless for you. In the articles below, we cover the requirements for running the next big cat; the things you should do to get your Mac ready; and the purchase and download processes. We walk you through the actual installation; recommend some post-install tasks; discuss some upgrade challenges; and help you decide if a "clean install" is for you. We've also got instructions for creating a bootable Lion installer disc or drive, as well as for installing Lion over Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5), provided you have the appropriate license to do so. Finally, we've got a hands-on look at Lion's new recovery mode.

Click on the links below to read on!

Get your Mac ready for Lion

Apple bills Lion as the easiest-to-install version of OS X yet, and that may be true. But there are still a few things you can do right now to ensure that your Mac is ready for 10.7.

Installing Lion: What you need to know

Now that Lion has been released, here's a look at the details of installing and setting up Apple's first download-only OS. We also take a look at some of the upgrade obstacles you might face.

How to make a bootable Lion install disc or drive

Though you can install Lion directly from your Mac's hard drive, a bootable installer drive or DVD can be more convenient for installing Lion onto multiple Macs, and if your Mac is experiencing problems, a bootable installer makes a handy emergency disk or disc.

Should you do a "clean install" of Lion?

Some Mac users prefer to do a "clean install" of each major new version of OS X, erasing their drive and starting over. We examine whether or not that's possible or, more important, advisable with Lion.

How to install Lion over Leopard

Installing Lion officially requires that you have Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) installed, but there are situations in which you may have a valid Snow Leopard license but want to go directly from Leopard (OS X 10.5) to Lion. It turns out there are several ways to do so.

Hands on with Lion Recovery

One of the most significant new features of Lion is that it lets you boot your Lion-equipped Mac into a special recovery mode that includes a few essential utilities for fixing problems, restoring files, browsing the Web, and even reinstalling Lion. Here's our comprehensive look at this new troubleshooting tool.

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Dan Frakes

Macworld.com
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