Mac OS X version 10.7, called "Lion," was released in July 2011.
It is no longer available from the Apple Store.
The latest version of Mac OS X is version 10.13, "High Sierra", released in September 2017.
There is no reason to run Lion instead of Mountain Lion.
See my Frequently Asked Questions about Lion.
New Features of Lion
(Claimed by Apple.)
- Better security, including sandboxing, full disk encryption and encrypted backup.
- Better Time Machine backup.
- Integration with iCloud for backup and synchronization.
- Updated applications will save automatically and resume where they left off.
- AirDrop wireless sharing between (some) Macs.
- Optional simpler user interface, more like the iPad.
- "250 new features" according to Apple.
Clean up and update software before installing.
Purchase Lion in the Apple App Store.
This will download a large file, the Lion Installer, to your disk.
You can dig into this installer and burn a bootable Lion install DVD if you wish;
Apple's license terms say you can update all your computers with one purchase.
- Get the applications on your computer ready for 10.7: apply latest fixes. Remember that PowerPC programs will not work.
- Delete junk files
- Delete Safari, iTunes, and Firefox caches. I used Cocktail to clean all caches.
- Empty trash.
- Repair disk permissions with Disk Utility.
- Clean up damaged and duplicate fonts.
- If you modified your Apache configuration, save a copy of /etc/apache2/httpd.conf.
If you installed Perl modules via CPAN or Fink, make a list of them.
perldoc perllocal | grep :: and
fink list -i | grep -v virtual or dpkg --get-selections | cut -f1 > fink_packages.txt
Backup and prepare
- If you use MySQL, backup the database with mysqldump databasename > db.sql
- If you use Little Snitch, uninstall it.
BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE to an external disk.
I used SuperDuper to clone my whole drive.
- If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, put in fresh batteries.
- Set screen saver to NEVER, and turn off Time Machine.
- Dismount and unplug or power off external drives.
- (Some folks think you should boot from a Lion install disk at this point and run Disk Utility to repair the hard disk.)
- Run the OS X 10.7 installer. It will run for about 15 minutes, then reboot, then run for about 45 minutes, then reboot again.
to update to latest version, then run again to make sure all software is updated. (another hour or two)
- Verify that the machine is working OK for you. If you have trouble, restore your backup and go back to the old version.
- Wait for Spotlight to finish indexing (may take several hours). Performance will suck till it finishes.
Turn on screensaver and Time Machine.
Time Machine may complain that it has to discard your old backup and start over, and then do a big backup, takes hours.
- Repair permissions with Disk Utility again.
- If you use Little Snitch, re-install and re-register it.
- In Terminal, type the command java to trigger the installation of the Java runtime from the Internet.
Post Install Tasks
Download the Apple Lion Recovery Disk Creator tool and burn a recovery disk for your machine, if you did not create a bootable Lion DVD or USB key.
If you have purchased applications that are version specific, like Cocktail, buy updates and install them.
There are some Lion features I disable as soon as I install Lion:
Select and uncheck the box at the top.
Finder status bar is hidden by default.
Select to make it visible.
Hidden per-account ~/Library folder.
In a Terminal window, do chflags nohidden ~/Library/ to make it visible.
Auto spellcheck correction.
There are whole comical websites devoted to the idiocy of iPhone spelling corrections.
I don't need this on my Mac.
Select and turn it off.
Address copying in Mail.app.
In 10.6, Mail.app changed to copy the User Name field as well as the mail address portion.
I prefer it the old way.
In Terminal, do defaults write com.apple.mail AddressesIncludeNameOnPasteboard -boolean no
Reopening applications at startup that were running at shutdown.
Uncheck the shutdown dialog box that says
Applications reopening documents at launch that were running at quit.
Uncheck in ,
and quit applications by hand or close their documents before shutting down.
Check that your printers work.
If your printer will not work, you may be able to get it working by selecting
deleting the printer, and adding it again.
You may have to use the open-source CUPS driver instead of the manufacturer's driver.
(I have not tried this.)
If you have a scanner, check that it works.
If your scanner does not work, you may be able to get it working by purchasing and installing a third party scanner driver.
Look into VueScan.
(I have not tried this.)
Install (free) Xcode 4.1 Developer Tools from Mac App Store. This takes a long time: it's a big download.
Fink: see the Fink Project's Lion instructions.
Install Xcode 4.1 Developer Tools first.
You must re-bootstrap Fink and rebuild the packages you use.
This will take many hours.
MySQL: Oracle has not yet provided a version of MySQL specifically for OSX 10.7.
I installed the Snow Leopard version 5.5.20 and reloaded my database. Things look OK.
If you had MySQL running before upgrading to Lion, it might "just work."
But back up your database before upgrading anyway, just in case.
See my Snow Leopard MySQL instructions.
Perl/CPAN: See the instructions for upgrading CPAN on Lion.
Install Xcode 4.1 Developer Tools first.
64-bit upgrade: Have to do some extra work if you are upgrading from a 32-bit system to 64-bit.
These changes are not urgent but will take advantage of the 64-bit architecture and should run more efficiently.
Eclipse 3.7: see my Eclipse instructions.
Change your shell environment to export VERSIONER_PERL_PREFER_32_BIT=no to avoid errors from dyld.
(This was needed for Snow Leopard, not sure if still required.)
Apache is provided with OS X. Check that it is working. diff httpd.conf against your saved copy.
PHP may be turned off; turn it on and make sure it works.
Security: Enable full disk encryption in .
(This takes a while to finish, depending on how full your disk is.)
If you encounter Adobe licensing issues, follow instructions in the Adobe forum.
There is an "Adobe License Recovery" tool, but it is PowerPC only, which may cause problems.
If you have to call Adobe help, they don't work weekends.
Installation went smoothly and the machine I upgraded seems to be working OK.
I have seen Bluetooth connections to keyboard and mouse fail at startup. Never saw this on Snow Leopard.
The photo screensaver can now pause, with the space bar, and go backwards and forwards with arrow keys.
Gotchas in Lion
- There were minor changes to the content of .vcf files exported by Address Book.
There is an article in Ars Technica
on gotchas with full disk encryption.
Key point: "If you run the Lion Disk Recovery Assistant with FileVault 2 enabled, it creates recovery partitions that don't work."
More detail at Mac OS X Hints.
Making a bootable Lion Install DVD is definitely a good idea.
QuickTime Player in Lion does not have all the functionality of previous versions.
The trick is to preserve and use an earlier version of Quicktime.
Lion locks files that use Auto Save and Versions if they have not been changed for 2 weeks, so that you have to unlock them before editing them.
there is a control to set the length of time after the last edit before files are locked.
The Lion Finder works differently in several ways. I think it will take some getting used to.
Planning for the next version
Lion was followed by another version of OS X, "Mountain Lion," in late summer 2012.
It was "inspired by iPad" and featured more game support, better security, and further iCloud integration.
Keep a list of the software and devices you use and depend on.
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© 2010-2018, Tom Van Vleck
updated 2018-08-14 13:56