For my birthday this July it looks like I (along with all other Mac users) will be getting a herd of Mountain Lions–seems particularly appropriate for me given that I am a Leo!
To get ready for what should be an easy $19.99 update from Lion to Mountain Lion via the App Store, it is important that you have your existing Lion well groomed. Unfortunately many people’s Macs are not as svelte as they should be if they updated to Lion from a prior OS – e.g. Leopard or Snow Leopard. I know this from personal experience.
Unfortunately Apple no longer provides a “clean install” option for a new OS, and for reasons that no-one has really been able to figure out, updating a legacy OS to Lion WITHOUT doing a clean install can sometimes result in a Mac that is not the king of the jungle in terms of speed.
The answer is in fact to do a clean install. It’s a bit time consuming but not complicated. The one catch is that you do need to have a second Lion capable Mac or borrow one – the process is non-destructive to the second Mac as long as there is enough disk space to temporarily host your User folder and all its contents.
Step Zero is to ENSURE you have a full back-up, e.g. with Time Machine, of the Mac you need to update–or streamline if Lion was perviously installed, and of the surrogate Mac. You should not need to use these back-ups for the following process, but things can go wrong so you should always have a contingency plan. (In any event if you are not backing up your Mac(s), now is the time to start. Hard drives fail – it’s not an “if”, it’s a “when”.)
Step One is to use Migration Assistant (in your Utilities folder) on both Macs to migrate the User you are wanting to keep from the Mac to be streamlined to the temporary surrogate mother (so to speak!). (Make sure the User name is not already in use on this Mac.) You can do this over a wired or wireless network so provided both Macs are connected to your home network no extra connections are needed. Be sure to migrate Applications and Settings as well as the User. As noted above there needs to be enough disk space to temporarily host your User folder and all its contents. Migration Assistant will tell you if there is not enough space; there is no danger of damaging files on the surrogate Mac as long as User names are not duplicated.
Step Two is to make a Lion install DVD-R or a bootable Flash Drive. This is a little tricky, but instructions are available here.
Step Three is to boot your to-be-streamlined Mac with the new DVD by starting it with the “C” key held down or with the Flash Drive. Then use the Utilities menu to erase/re-format the hard drive. This is why you need Step Zero – just in case things go wrong. Erasing a hard drive is not for the faint of heart, but it is the key to making the install “clean”!
Step Four is to use the installer to bring the Lion’s roar to your Mac. When you go through the set-up be sure to create what will be a temporary Admin user name that is NOT the name of the user that you will be migrating back.
Then repeat Step One in reverse. You can then delete the temporary Admin user if you wish, and after you have checked that everything is working ok you should delete the User that was temporarily created on the surrogate Mac – this is done in the Users & Groups Systems Preferences panel.
Now your Mac should be fully svelte once again and ready “to climb the Mountain”!
One caveat – if you have licensed third party s/w like Microsoft Office you will be prompted to enter the license info again when you first use it. You may also have to tweak some settings like printers etc., but mostly your settings and preferences, as well as all your files, will be preserved.
If you need more guidance, chat with me when you visit West Hill House.