Can Your Mac Handle Lion?
As you may or may not know, Apple recently released Mac OS X Lion the latest version of its OS X system software. With Lion comes a lot of new features and a lot of questions. One of the question you might be asking yourself (and one that many friends have been asking me) is “Should I upgrade my Mac to Lion?" The answer to that question is not as simple as you might expect. A lot depends on how you would answer other questions. Sure Lion is a bargain at only $29.99 through the Mac App Store, but if you don’t need Lion’s new features why buy it? Save the money for something else.
So what are these questions I mentioned? Well, first let’s look at your computer and answer the easiest question first. Does your Mac meet the minimum requirements for Lion? At the very least you need an Intel Mac with a Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of memory. You also need 10.6.6 running on your machine so that you have access to the Mac App Store to download Lion. Lion is only available via download right now, and the only place to download it is through the Mac App Store (see the link in the reference section of this article). It will be available in August on a USB drive, but there is the question of will it install on a machine without 10.6.6. You also need at least 7GB of free space on your computer.
If you don’t have 10.6.6 running on your Mac you face the issue of a double update. Apple hasn’t presented any special deals of getting Snow Leopard and then Lion. Snow Leopard was only $29.99 also, but if you have 10.5 or earlier you are looking at a $60 update instead of just $30. In addition, you have to find a copy of Snow Leopard, which I am guessing will not be as easy or cheap before too long.
If you do have Snow Leopard running on your machine, but you aren't sure if it is 10.6.6 you can find out very easily by checking your dock for a big blue circle icon that has an "A" in it made out of drawing tools. This is the Mac App Store. If you still aren't sure if it is up to date go to the Apple menu on the top left of your screen and choose "About This Mac." The window that comes up will tell you what version you are running. If you are running 10.6.5 or earlier, but at least 10.6, run Software Update from that same Apple Menu. This will get you the latest version of Snow Leopard as well as anything else that needs an update on your machine.
Even if your machine does meet the minimum requires some features (like Airdrop) still need faster machines to work. You might want to do some research and make sure the features you want will work on your machine. (more on Airdrop later.)
Since the software is only available via download a slow internet connection (especially dial-up) is not going to cut it. You might want to wait for the USB installer if you decide you want to upgrade.
If you are still on a PowerPC Mac or a machine slower than the specs mentioned above your answer is easy. You can’t install Lion, so don’t even worry about it.