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Preparing a Mac for OS X 1010 Yosemite

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On the 2nd June 2014, Apple announced the latest version of it’s OS X operating system, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.  

Being 10, the next iteration of OS X, The second in a departure from the previous naming system of big cats. 10, will start a new naming convention taken from places in California. OS X 10. 10 will be known asYosemiteNamed after theYosemite National ParkIn California

In this tutorial, from OS X 10, I'll show you what you will need to do to ensure that a Mac is ready for upgrade. Or earlier, to OS X 10, 9 Mavericks. 10 Yosemite when it is released later this year

Upgrade Cost

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

OS X 10, Way back in October 2009. 6 Snow Leopard was delivered via DVD and cost £25 in the UK when launched

OS X 10.7 Lion

Apple stopped supplying DVDs with the release of OS X 10. 7 Lion (though it was available for a short time on a USB drive) and cost £20. Preferring a download delivery model via the new Mac App Store, 99 in the UK, instead

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

OS X 10. 8 Mountain Lion was only available as an upgrade through the Mac App Store and cost £13. 99 in the UK.  

OS X 10.9 Mavericks

OS X 10. 9 Mavericks was only available as an upgrade through the Mac App Store and was offered as a nil-cost upgrade to Apple OS X users as far back as OS X 10. 6 Snow Leopard

OS X 10.10 Yosemite

OS X 10. 10, following on from Mavericks, is to be offered as a free upgrade for existing Mac users of any OS X version from 10. 6. 7 Snow Leopard onwards

Microsoft Windows 8

Compare this to £99. 99 for Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, and any upgrade to OS X is a bargain


Similar to 10. 10, 7 Lion. 8 Mountain Lion and 10. 9 Mavericks, it has been confirmed that OS X 10. 10 Yosemite will only be available as a digital download for Macs that require upgrading

System Requirements

Yosemite beta program
Yosemite beta program

As of itsbeta release, OS X 10.10 YosemiteIs compatible with all Macs that are capable of running OS X Mountain Lion (and some earlier systems). The compatibility list is very similar to that for the release of OS X Mavericks, last year

  • IMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), Early 2009 or later), (13-inch
  • Mid-2009 or later), Mid/Late 2007 or later), Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, MacBook Pro (13-inch, (15-inch
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

It is likely that this will not change between the beta and the retail version, but it's inevitable that some of the sexier features of Yosemite will not be compatible with older hardware

Checking Hardware Compatibility

To check to see if a Mac is compatible, click on theAppleAt the farmost left of the menu bar and selectAbout This MacThen clickMore Info

About this Mac
About this Mac

Checking Memory

Click on the, To check to see if how much memory is installed in the MacAppleAt the farmost left of the menu bar and selectAbout This MacThen clickMore InfoFollowed by theMemoryTab

Checking the amount of  installed memory on a Mac
Checking the amount of installed memory on a Mac

In order to run OS X 10. 10 Yosemite, the Mac must have at least 2GB of memory. From my own experience of running OS X 10. On a Mac mini Core i5, my recommendation would be to look at 4GB being an absolute minimum for Mavericks, 9 Mavericks, which will run very slowly indeed.  

Ideally, you should look at 8GB RAM being the minimum to run Yosemite and install more if you can afford it. Probably the best place for memory upgrades for a Mac isCrucial

Crucial is a long established reputable supplier of Apple Mac memory upgrades
Reputable supplier of Apple Mac memory upgrades, Crucial is a long established

Checking Software Compatibility

Before upgrading to Yosemite, the Mac will need at least 8GB of available hard disc space and be running Mac OS X 10. 6. Or later, 7 Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard 10. 6. Lion, 7, Mountain Lion and Mavericks all have the Mac App Store, which is a requirement for the digital download delivery mechanism to install OS X 10. 10 Yosemite

You will need to consult with the developers of each app to determine whether your software will be compatible with OS X 10, In terms of third party apps. 10 Yosemite

Roaring Apps is a useful website for determining Mac software compatibility
Roaring Apps is a useful website for determining Mac software compatibility

For previous OS X updates to Lion and Mountain Lion, a hugely useful resource has been Roaring Apps. This site maintains a Wiki, to which anyone may contribute for the good of the Mac community, in sharing information about compatibility of apps between versions of OS X

It is likely that Roaring Apps will be updated to include information regarding Yosemite compatible apps. It’s a huge timesaver

Perform Apple Software and Firmware Updates

To check to see if there are any updates for the Mac, click on theAppleAt the farmost left of the menu bar and selectSoftware UpdateThis launches theMac App StoreAnd checks for any available software updates

Performing an Apple Software update
Performing an Apple Software update

Prior to attempting to upgrade the Mac, Update the software, and firmware if applicable, with the software updates that are available.  

Note that some upgrades may require the Mac to reboot in order to install them. This is especially true of firmware updates

Backing Up Data

This is imperative. It is essential that you back up your data before attempting to upgrade your operating system

On the Mac, There are many ways in which you can go about backing up data. With, Apple makes this quite easy, In factTime MachineAnd other app developers have created invaluable tools such asSuperDuper!AndCarbon Copy ClonerCloud-based services such as, FurthermoreDropboxProvide even more ways to ensure that essential data is safe

Setting up Time Machine to perform a backup
Setting up Time Machine to perform a backup

My recommendation would be to perform at least two back ups and to test that they work. My favoured method is a Time Machine back up and a straight clone of the hard drive with SuperDuper! In addition to those, I useDropboxTo store lots of my data

Tip:Take a look at the tutorials in our Data Backups and Storage session, To learn more about backing up your data

Upgrade or Clean Install

Very simple such that you might have upgraded through a number of iterations of OS X already, Apple makes the process, to upgrade to each new version of OS X

The latter being the reformatting of the hard drive and the complete installation of OS X from scratch, is one of personal preference, The question regarding an upgrade or a clean install

I prefer the clean install approach, personally, For me. A cathartic experience that allows me to ensure that OS X is running at optimal efficiency whereby I only install the apps that I depend upon and think carefully about installing anything else


A little bit of planning now will make the transition trouble-free, With the imminent release of Yosemite. In this tutorial I have shown how to check your hardware and software compatibility, I’ve shown you the importance of backing up your data and I’ve looked at upgrades versus clean installs

Or can be upgraded, perform an audit of the software that you use on your Mac to ensure that it is all compatible, Before you jump into Yosemite, before you upgrade the operating system. This will avoid the risk of problems following an upgrade to Yosemite

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