Note, this tip, and the series of tips I've written here from 10.3 to 10.9, all refer to Mac OS X client. Server versions of Mac OS X may have different limitations, and are most often best answered by the participants of the Server forums.
See this tip to find your Mac model's age:
Backing up your data at least twice to two separate locations before installing any update is strongly recommended.
A supplemental update to 10.7.5 has been released, if you find after reading the rest of the tip you are ready for 10.7.5.
Neither Lion, nor Mountain Lion is compatible with Appleworks, see this tip for further info on migrating to Lion and above with Appleworks.
Those with other PowerPC (pre-2006) applications who need to upgrade to 10.7, see this tip.
See my user tip here before proceeding if you need to continue using Appleworks.
If you are uncertain whether your application is Lion compatible, read this entire tip to ensure you don't upgrade yourself past your capabilities.
Lion (10.7) is not to be confused with Mountain Lion (10.8), which are different paid operating systems.
If you have issues downloading Lion (10.7), please contact Mac App Store billing to ensure you aren't double billed.
It is possible to purchase it now (January 12, 2014) through the link at: http://store.apple.com/us/product/D6106Z/A/os-x-lion
(the /us/ in the link may be changed for the standard two letter country code of your country if not the United States)
Note, if you have difficulty starting up on the USB Flash drive and the Mac is older than the Flash drive, and known to be compatible with
the version on the Flash drive, try using the Startup Manager to boot it.
The Flashback malware has a patch on 10.7.3. In addition, 10.7.3 is as of January 17, 2014, the minimum operating system that you need
to run the latest Java from http://www.java.com/
Mobileme users have an upgrade path to Lion without erasing their hard drive, now that Apple is providing Snow Leopard free through this link. They may either upgrade to 10.6.6 first and then upgrade to 10.7, or upgrade to 10.6.8 first and then upgrade to 10.8 depending on the features they need
and their application compaibility. If that link no longer works, call Apple online store directly at the number available from http://store.apple.com/ in your country. It is not available from the Mac App Store unless requested by phone online sales.
Mountain Lion or Mavericks may be of interest to those wanting to move to Lion as well, and this tip discusses the options.
Note: some have reported issues with 10.7.4 and Internet Sharing, as well as Home Sharing. If you use these features and have no issue, please help those in the forums who are. For the system administrators upset at the Login Screen not working, it has been found, that the Login Screen in 10.7.4 has moved to: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/Lo ginUICore.framework/Versions/A/Resources/applelinen.png Be sure to back this file up elsewhere and note its permissions before changing, in event an update changes this again. It is unknown if 10.7.5 or later fix the issue.
Some questions have been posed as to Lion's upgrade. Most have been answered in http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/07/20Mac-OS-X-Lion-Available-Today-From-the -Mac-App-Store.html and http://www.apple.com/macosx/
as well as the forum. I have answered the most commonly asked questions below:
Q: What are the system requirements of the Lion upgrade?
A: Core2Duo (CoreDuo and CoreSolo will not work, the all important 2 in the middle is not by accident), Core i3, i5, i7, and Xeon Intel CPUs with 2 GB of RAM in a Macintosh computer with 2 GB of RAM, and 4 GB for downloading from the Mac App Store (Available in 10.6.6 and later). Unofficially, past upgrades have arbitrarily also required an additional 15% of the hard drive to be free for data.
A USB Flash Drive version is available that will erase and install on any machine whose hardware meets the above requirements, but will only upgrade and install over a 10.6.6 installed system.
Q: Can I migrate to Lion from a PowerPC Mac?
A: Yes, but most of the applications will not work, unless they were Universal in the first place. See later the Lion compatible applications question.
This tip explains how to migrate data.
Q: What if I can't upgrade to Lion, but have an Intel Mac with 1 GB or more of RAM?
A: You may be able to upgrade to Snow Leopard (10.6 to 10.6.8). See this tip on what's needed to get to Snow Leopard:
Q: Do I need Lion for all my Macs to get iCloud?
A: The answer to this question is complicated. Best to read the tip here:
Q: Do I need Lion for iTunes 10.5.1 or 10.5.2?
A: No. See this tip:
Q: Are Macs that are prebundled with Lion able to run Snow Leopard?
A: One solution was posted to Apple Support Communities:
https://discussions.apple.com/message/16247806#16247806 others may exist too.
Note: if your machine says it shipped with 10.6.8 or earlier on: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1159 and according to the bottom of https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-2455 you may still be able to use Snow Leopard, the build to install Snow Leopard is on article ht1159 from the gray installer discs that came with that Mac.
Q: If a Mac can't install Snow Leopard, how do you restore your Lion from scratch?
A: Either through a clone backup you make, or using the Lion recovery partition, as outlined on this article.
For more on available clone backup options, be sure to ask in the forum which one is right for you.
Q: Are there any pitfalls to watch out for?
A: With all upgrades, backing up your data at least twice has been a given. Hardware can fail independently of downloads and upgrades, though may happen simultaneously. Software may be found to be incompatible that has not been tested with the new upgrade, or combination of other software that might be installed with the upgrade. It is also strongly recommended once your backup is complete, to shut down your computer, remove all but Apple wired keyboard and mouse (notebooks remove all input devices). Then once done, reboot, and go directly to the upgrade distribution system available.
Third party system tools, modification, and "maintenance" applications should be verified as compatible, or removed until known to be compatible. Check with developers how to remove if it is essential to use Lion before those applications become compatible. Most "maintenance" tools that deal with system cache, prebinding, are not really maintenance tools. Ask on forum when are the appropriate times to use them before assuming they should be used for upgrades or otherwise.
Unlike previous operating systems, the Macs that ship with Lion do not come with an installer disc. When the hard drive of such a Mac dies, only a clone, or a specially created Flash drive, can restore the operating system without internet access. Instructions for that kind of Flash drive, are on Macworld's tip. To find out if your Mac is one that was prebundled with Lion, see the bottom of the Snow Leopard
tip for those Macs that can't run Snow Leopard.
Rosetta is gone: Rosetta allowed old PowerPC Mac OS X (those written for Macs that predate 2006) based applications to run side by side with Intel Mac OS X applications. This means Appleworks will not run in Lion or Mountain Lion. See this user tip on migration before installing either operating system.
Front Row is gone: Front Row is a multimedia viewer of contents of the iTunes and iPhoto library that also included DVD playback. A trick for getting it to play with Lion and Mountain Lion is here.
Apple USB 56k modem support is gone: Dialup modem support either will have to come through Apple's old Airport Extreme base station that included 56k modems, or third party solutions.
Q: How can I get from 10.4.4, 10.4.5, 10.4.6, 10.4.7, 10.4.8, 10.4.9, 10.4.10, 10.4.11, 10.5 to 10.6? (10.4.0, 10.4.1, 10.4.2, and 10.4.3 can't upgrade to 10.6 or 10.7)
A: This question of course assumes you need 10.6 in the first place, or want to shorten your installation time of Lion and lessen the risk of data loss. Lion will erase and install on any supported hardware with the USB Flash drive version of it. The USB Flash drive version will also install on systems without 10.6.6 or later, if you are installing directly onto a hard drive that has no operating system. The risk of data loss still exists for marginal or extra full hard drives. Of course erasing necessitates recovery of any information which would take longer in many instances than a simple download of the 10.6.6 combo installer and a download of the Lion from the App Store, and if not properly backed up, could lead to data loss. Purchase a 10.6 retail installer from an Apple retail or third party reseller. Make sure to read the questions on this page "which Macs can run Lion" and "what are the system requirements?" before doing this, as you may not meet those requirements.
The retail installer ####has a picture of a Snow Leopard on the DVD shown on this image , and does not say Upgrade, Dropin, or OEM. Install it, and then install the 10.6.6 combo update from:
Q: How do I get to 10.6.6, 10.6.7, or 10.6.8 if I already have 10.6 through 10.6.5?
A: Note the next question, you may not have to download the update, if you are prepared to erase the system. The updates can
be updated from the links below, and should be used to help in your transition if needed to Lion:
http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1349 for 10.6.6
http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1361 for 10.6.7
http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1399 for 10.6.8
Q: Is it true that I can only get it from the Mac App Store?
A: No longer. Apple has made available a Flash drive version of Lion. It still has the limitation of not being able to be upgrade and installed on anything older than 10.6.6, at least it offers an erase and install option. If you wish more options, post feedback to:
Q: How is the Flash drive version different from the the App Store version?
A: The Flash drive version is not dependent on your internet speed. A 5 Mbps internet connection can download Lion in 2 hours. A 768Kbps connection can download it in 13 hours. These times do not including installation time, or variabilities in connection speeds from a non-dedicated connection, or background application usage of the internet. Any applications running when the installation process begins might interfere with the installation itself, and they should be quit first. It is unknown at the present time if each individual computer will have to download it separately on the same connected Local Area Network, or if imaging of the downloaded file will be allowed for distribution on certain sized Local Area networks in certain settings (schools, businesses, and homes). This is a question one should post or look for on Apple Support Communities, to determine if there are any limitations.
Q: When did Lion become available?
A: July 20, 2011
System specific internet only install -
Same date for MacBook Air and Mac Mini
iMacs on or after August 8, 2011 (educational only), October 23, 2012 all others.
MacBook Pro on or after October 24, 2011
Mac Pro on or after June 11, 2012
MacBooks (with no Air or Pro designation) were not ever released as system specific internet only install.
A: http://roaringapps.com/apps:table is a third party user editable listing of what is and isn't compatible. It is not run by Apple, and any Mountain Lion compatibility listings should be taken with a grain of salt until Mountain Lion's official release date which has as of the writing of this tip not yet been determined, though is likely to appear on http://www.apple.com/pr/ or http://www.apple.com/macosx/ Once this release date verifies, look at the date on the compatibility table entries to make sure the entries are after its release. Mountain Lion, is not to be confused with Lion. Please feel free to contribute if you find items are inaccurate. Click on the "Version" section of an application description if you find you have an older version that isn't compatible and enter it as such. Apple has a listing of printer and scanner drivers for 10.6 through 10.9:
Any not listed, will have to come from the vendor directly.
Apple provides updates to the printers on that link through these links by vendor:
A few applications listed as incompatible may become compatible if you install the latest Java update for Lion:
Apple has an article which states that PowerPC applications are not supported in Lion:
https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-6271 is another tip which I wrote to discuss if an Application is compatible with 10.7 or later.
ACD is releasing Canvas for Intel Macs in 2014.
PageSender (a popular faxing software) is currently not Lion compatible (as of January 10, 2013). Many multifunction printers offer indepedent faxing from the connected computer. Electronic Fax solutions such as eFax also exist. The USR 5637 has plug and play fax compatibility with 10.4 through 10.8.
A few applications which aren't compatible with Lion, are Windows compatible. All Macs that can run Lion, can install Windows, as all have an Intel CPU.
For options to run Windows, visit this tip:
Apple has this article about RAW format updates for various digital cameras in Lion. Other digital cameras are supported, though no entry in the knowledgebase is presently is known by the author of this tip for which ones are. Most use a media card which can be adapted to USB or Firewire with Mac compatible adapters. Check with the vendor of these card readers which are compatible with Lion. Many printers also offer built-in card readers for multiple card formats.
The SD card reader found on many Macs today only supports SD, and no other format. Express/34 found on June 7, 2009 and earlier 15" and 17" MacBook Pros can be
adapted as well to various card formats. Express/34 has only been available on June 8, 2009 and later 17" MacBook Pros. Mac Pros also support certain PCI based card readers. The advantage of using a card reader over a direct to camera connection is that the camera frequently runs on battery when connected to a computer.
Q: What updates are there available for Lion from Apple:
Q: Which Macs can run Lion?
A: Look at Apple menu -> About This Mac -> More Info (System Information on some Macs), and see if you meet the Machine ID (Model Identifier on some Macs) and RAM requires under the hardware. 2 GB is required for all. Make sure the Specifications for RAM are followed exactly if you purchase from a third party RAM vendor, with ideally RAM already spec'ed for your specific vintage Mac model. Don't buy any RAM that doesn't have a lifetime warranty. These Machine IDs (Model Identifier on some Macs) will run Lion:
Mac Mini 2,1 to 5,x
MacBook 2,1 and later.
iMac 5,1 to 12,x.
All MacBook Air (as of March 14, 2013).
MacBook Pro 2,1 to 10,1 (10,2 and later can't)
All MacPros (as of March 14, 2013)
The Macs with the Machine IDs (Model Identifer on some Macs) below will not run Lion (x can be any number):
Mac Mini 1,x or PowerMac x,x
MacBook Pro 1,x
iMac 4,x, 3,x, 2,x, 1,x
A: iMac 13,x or later. MacBook Pro 10,2 or later (10,1 could run 10.7.5). Mac Mini 6,1 or later. Neither MacBook Air, nor Mac Pro have this limitation as of March 14, 2013.
Q: When is Mountain Lion (10.8) or Mavericks (10.9) a benefit over Lion?
A: That depends on software compatibility mentioned earlier. Not all software that is compatible with Mountain Lion is Mavericks compatible.
Mountain Lion and Mavericks has the same Apple hardware requirements. But other software and hardware may vary. Regardless both Mountain Lion and Mavericks have the same limitations of Rosetta as Lion does.
Q: I have an older than 2011 Mac, and command-R doesn't let me restore Mac OS X 10.7 or later from the internet. Is there a way to allow it to do so?
A: Yes. Upgrade the firmware as indicated by this article: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4904
From what I understand, this should not affect the ability of the machine to boot into 10.6, if there is an external hard drive that has it on there.
If you find it does, please alert me (see my profile by clicking on my name and e-mail me at the address given).