While macOS is currently on version 11 (otherwise known as Big Sur) and macOS 12 Monterey is coming later this year, there are plenty of folks who use old versions of the Mac operating system. Some people are still using OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and until recently, you had to pay Apple $19.99 to get download codes for those OSes. But there’s good news: Apple is now offering Lion and Mountain Lion for free for anyone who wants them.
To get Lion and Mountain Lion for free, you can visit the support documents for those OSes on Apple’s website:
Strangely, Apple still sells Lion and Mountain Lion for $19.99 each. Apple stopped charging for macOS updates with Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks.
Is my Mac compatible with OSX Lion and Mountain Lion?
Lion runs on Macs that came prior to the launch of Mountain Lion in 2012. Mountain Lion runs on the Macs below, but you may not be able to downgrade to it unless you completely reformat the drive. You can’t install an old OS on top of a newer one. Also, the oldest OS an M1 Mac can run is Big Sur.
- MacBook (Late 2008 to 2010)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 to mid 2012)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 to mid-2012)
- Mac mini (Early 2009 to 2011)
- iMac (Mid-2007 to 2011)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 and 2010)
If you want to know if your specific Mac can run OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, you can use our complete list of versions of macOS that a Mac can run. We have instructions on how to make a bootable Lion drive or a bootable Mountain Lion drive, in case you want to start from scratch on the Macs you’re working on.
Can I get OS X Snow Leopard?
Mac OS X 10. 6 Snow Leopard was released in 2009 and introduced the Mac App Store. Apple used to sell Snow Leopard for $19.99, but Apple no longer offers it. You can find downloadable copies of Snow Leopard and Leopard on the Internet Archive and the reviews on the Internet Archive pages have tips on how to create USB installers from the downloads.
Editor’s note: This article was adapted from Macwelt.
Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he's worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.