Mac OS X Mountain Lion, Apple latest release of their OS, hit the Mac App Store today. It’s jam-packed with more than 200 new features including iCloud integration, Messages and Notifications Center, Dictation, Airplay Mirroring and a whole lot more. But before you hit the buy button, you want to make sure that your Mac is still up to snuff.
There are 3 things to consider. You need to look at whether your current Mac model will support Mac OS X Mountain Lion; whether it fulfills the general requirements of the upgrade and finally, whether or not some of the individual new features will work with what you have. There’s no set answer across the board.
If you’re running a Mac that was released before mid-2007, it’s probably time to go shopping. For all others, here is the earliest model that will run Mountain Lion:
MacBook-Late 2008 aluminum or Early 2009; MacBook Pro- Mid to Late 2007; Mac mini – Early 2009, Mac Pro – Early 2008, iMac -Mid 2007 and Xserve – Early 2009.
Keep in mind, it’s not when you purchased your computer it’s when that was released. If you’re not sure what you have, simply go under the Apple menu, click on “About This Mac” and select more info.
Given your Mac fits in to one of the above categories, you still need to be running at least Mac OS X 10.6.8. You’ll need a minimum of 2GB of memory – which most models should have and 8GB of free storage space. Furthermore because of its integration with the iTunes and App Store, you are going to need to have an Apple ID for some of the features.
Feature Specific Requirements
Now simply having one of the supported models unfortunately does not give you carte blanche to all of the new features of Mac OS X Mountain Lion has to offer. For some of you this might be a harsh reality, but at the same time we have to realize that some of these were developed long after some of these devices were released and at some point the old technology has to be left behind.
While some of the features have specific requirements with respect to options that you might have, for example, a multi-touch trackpad, Magic Mouse or whether you’re running Exchange, I want to primarily address the actual computer or model requirements, because if these are the specific features that you are looking for, you want to ensure that you’ll be able to run them before you go through the upgrade process.
Airdrop, a feature introduced with Mac OS X Lion, gives you the ability to easily drag and drop files between Wi-Fi equipped computers in your home or in your office by creating an ad hoc peer-to-peer network.
To use Airdrop, you’ll need: MacBook or MacBook Pro – Late 2008; iMac – Early 2009; Mac Pro – Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card or Mid 2010; Mac mini -Mid 2010 or MacBook Air – Late 2010.
Airplay Mirroring, the ability to wirelessly stream what’s on your screen to an HDTV via Apple TV, requires you to have some fairly recent equipment. You’ll need a second-generation Apple TV, with; an iMac, Mac mini or MacBook Air, all Mid 2011. A MacBook Pro – Early 2011 will also suffice.
Power Nap, the ability to allow your Mac to sleep yet have your apps and backups updated when it wakes up, will only run on a Mid-2011 MacBook Air or the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
The full list of Mac OS X Mountain Lion technical specifications including what’s included in the upgrade can be found on Apple Canada’s website.
How to upgrade
Once you’re comfortable that your Mac model can run the latest OS X, the next part is easy. I highly recommend creating a full backup. Really, whether you are upgrading or not it’s always a good idea. Next, see which version of the Mac OS you’re currently running. If you’re running Lion (10.7), you’re good to go. If you’re running Snow Leopard (10.6) you need to make sure you’re running the latest version by selecting software update under your Apple Menu. No need to upgrade to Lion first. The last step is simple. Go to the App Store in the Apple menu and purchase Mountain Lion for $19.99* and follow the instructions. If you don’t have high-speed, you might want to visit your nearest Apple retail store. (*The upgrade might be free if you bought a qualifying model from an authorized outlet after June 11th, 2012)
So these are a few things to consider when looking at upgrading to Mac OS X Mountain Lion. If it doesn’t look like your computer will cut the mustard and you really want to take advantage of many of these new features, it might be time to consider a new one. How about a nice 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display?
photo credits: Apple Inc.
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.