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.