Installing Mountain Lion

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The latest version of OS X, 10.8, is here. But before you rush to install Mountain Lion, check out our in-depth guide.

Just a year after Lion (OS X 10.7), Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) is here. And just like Lion, getting Mountain Lion is as easy as downloading an installer from the Mac App Store--a few clicks (and some patience) is all it takes to install OS X 10.8 over your existing copy of Lion or Snow Leopard. But that doesn’t mean you should make the jump without any preparation, or that there are no important decisions to make along the way.
We've installed Mountain Lion more times than we can count--even more times than we installed Lion a year ago--in order to put together this guide to installing the latest Mac OS. In the articles below, we cover the requirements for running Mountain Lion; the things you should do to get your Mac ready; and the purchase and download processes. We walk you through the actual installation; recommend some post-install tasks; discuss some upgrade challenges; and help you decide if a "clean install" is for you.
We've also got instructions for creating a bootable Mountain Lion installer drive, as well as for installing Mountain Lion over Leopard (OS X 10.5)--provided you have the appropriate license to do so. Finally, we've got a hands-on look at OS X Recovery (also known as recovery mode) and Internet Recovery. With this guide and $20 (for purchasing Mountain Lion), you should be able to make the transition to 10.8 painlessly.
Click the links below to read on!
  • Get your Mac ready for Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8)
    Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) is as easy to install as its predecessor, Lion (OS X 10.7), was. But there are still a few things you can do before downloading Mountain Lion to ensure that your Mac is ready and that the upgrade process goes smoothly.
  •  Installing Mountain Lion: What you need to know
    Like Lion before it, Mountain Lion is available only as a direct download from Apple’s Mac App Store. This method of distribution is convenient, but it also raises a number of questions. Here’s a look at the details of purchasing, downloading, installing, and setting Apple’s lastest OS. We also take a look at some of the upgrade obstacles you might face.
  •  How to make a bootable Mountain Lion install drive
    Though you can install Mountain Lion directly from your Mac's hard drive, a bootable installer drive can be more convenient for installing the OS onto multiple Macs. And if your Mac is experiencing problems, a bootable installer makes a handy emergency drive. We walk you through the process of creating such a drive, step-by-step.
  •  Should you do a "clean install" of Mountain Lion?
    Some Mac users prefer to do a "clean install" of each major new version of OS X, erasing their drive and starting over. Here’s a look at whether or not that's possible when installing Mountain Lion and, more important, whether it’s advisable.
  •  How to install Mountain Lion over Leopard
    According to the Mountain Lion license agreement, you must have Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) or Lion (OS X 10.7) installed before you can install Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8). But there are situations in which you may have a valid license for 10.6 or 10.7, but Leopard (OS X 10.5) installed. There are several ways to go directly from 10.5 to 10.8.
  •  Hands on with Mountain Lion's OS X Recovery and Internet Recovery
    Mountain Lion, like Lion before it, lets you boot your Mac into a special recovery mode called OS X Recovery. This mode includes a few essential utilities for fixing problems, restoring files, browsing the Web, and reinstalling the operating system. Here's our comprehensive look at this troubleshooting tool and the special Internet Recovery feature available on recent Macs.