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Upgrade Strategy: Get Ready for Snow Leopard

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Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard’s release is just around the corner, so here are some quick and easy steps to make sure that you are ready to upgrade.

Turn On Time Machine

If you haven’t already, now is a great time to turn on the Time Machine built in backup. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great first line of defense against data loss.

Make a Bootable External Drive

Use Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper to clone your Mac’s hard drive to an external USB drive as an emergency backup, in case both the upgrade and the Time Machine backup both go south. The real point of both this step and the Time Machine step are to backup, backup, backup! Get your data off of your computer and onto something else that can be saved in case of the worst.

Get Rid of Haxies

Haxies are unsupported hacks that alter the appearance or functionality of OS X. While they can be cool, and nothing against Unsanity, anything that’s done under the covers or outside of what Apple (s aapl) says is OK to play with is easily broken during a major OS upgrade. Application Enhancer has been a known culprit in the past, and some developers will ask that it be removed before support or ignore crash reports that involve it all together.

Disable Bundles

Bundles like SIMBL are also a sort of hack that can cause problems during an upgrade. As I said before, they are a good hack, but a hack nonetheless, and can cause unforeseen problems during an upgrade.

Sync Up

iPods, iPhones, MobileMe, any third-party devices or syncing that you have set up…make sure they are all synced and up to date before starting the upgrade procedure.

Update Your Apps

This shouldn’t be that big of a deal as long as you are already running Leopard, but it’s still a good idea to check and make sure that you are running the latest released version of your apps. Developers who joined the Apple Developer Connection as a premier member have had access to Snow Leopard for a while now, and have hopefully worked out the bugs in running their app. That being said, upgrade your apps, just to make sure. I’ve found that it’s also a good practice to download updated installers for your favorite apps and burn them to a CD or DVD for quick access.

If you are feeling daring, you may want to give AppFresh a look and see about having it update all of your apps for you.

Clean House

Have a ton of old apps laying around that you don’t need anymore? Now is the best time to AppZap them! I seriously do not understand why AppZapper, or some similar functionality is not built into OS X. Both Cocktail and Onyx have functions to clean out temporary files, check permissions, and ensure that the OS is in good operating order.

Watch the Clock

Snow Leopard is set to be released in September 2009, which as the writing of this happens is just around one month away. Snow Leopard brings with it the opportunity to make your Mac “Better, Faster, Easier,” than ever before.

Have a favorite OS X upgrade tradition? Sound off in the comments!

32 Responses to “Upgrade Strategy: Get Ready for Snow Leopard”

  1. I bought a MacBook Pro a year ago; I am reading that with the $29 dollar upgrade disc the user may be prompted to insert a previous disc before it allows you to install. Does this mean I just have to insert one of the discs that came with my MacBook Pro? It has Leopard on it, of course, but its not a “Leopard Install Disc” per se. Will one of these discs work since they have Leopard on them?

  2. So using the upgrade disk, it checks if you have the Leopard disk and if so just does an install of Snow Leopard in a sense not upgrading anything just installing Snow Leopard

  3. @Paolo, I agree. I had the Leopard upgrade disk for a while, and it would just ask me for the Tiger disk to prove that I was eligible for the upgrade, and then proceed with an clean install. I’m hoping that Snow Leopard works the same way.

  4. Good question Jon – if a clean from scratch directly Snow Leopard installation is not possible, then yes, I would go through the hassle of installing Leopard and then Snow Leopard on top.
    But I doubt that you cannot install Snow Leopard on a clean disk. It can just check if you have a Leopard installation disk by asking for it at the beginning, or simply install without asking…

  5. By clean installation do you mean a clean Leopard install then apply the Snow Leopard upgrade or are you guys forking out for a Snow Leopard full install disk?

  6. When installing an update (e.g. 10.5.6 to 10.5.7) I do Time Machine and apply the patch.
    When installing a new version (10.5 to 10.6) I do Time Machine and a clean install. More so with 10.6. Why a clean install? Among others:
    1) Snow Leopard is 64 bits – I don’t want any 32 bits lying around where they shouldn’t be
    2) wiping the drive, removes possible unwanted files (temporary, apps orphans, log files, caches, etc.) and creates a new fresh, possibly optimised, file structure on the drive
    3) no hacks or programs, other than Apple own apps&files, can hinder the installation process
    4) wiping out apps and their prefs is actually a way to clean up one’s Apps Folder “mess” and start fresh – you might be surprised how many settings and apps you really didn’t need
    5) it gives a pleasant sense of Zen neatness ;)
    6) doesn’t leave you with, if “Archiving previous installation”, an “old system” folder to get rid of, someday, taking lots! of space on the HDD

    Therefore I backup only my data (docs, pics, projects, etc.) and the installers. Everything else can go.
    Making a major version OS installation via an upgrade has never been IMHO a good idea – a fresh installation for me is the way to go, whenever possible. Both for Mac and Windows.

  7. Indeed, I pre-ordered it this morning (the family pack) at Amazon and am expecting to see it some time in Sept or Oct. Amazon seems to have pre-order items out sooner than most places.

    I hope it’s as good as they say. Of course, unexpected things could always happen.

    Rcently I came across a pretty neat “filler finder” to get Amazon’s free shipping. It is at:

    Perhaps others will find it useful too.

  8. Adam Blaiss

    But I’m curious what benefits you might get from a fresh install, besides cleaning up in general. Would it necessarily run faster or have less issues? I remember an upgrade from Win 98 to Win XP resulting in a horrible running system, but wiping everything and just installing XP turned out great.

  9. skorecky


    It’s more about not creating problems when installing / upgrading a system OS. If it’s a problem now, then yes it would be a problem later.

  10. Forgive my ignorance, but if you back up everything to an external HD, clean install, and then move everything back – aren’t you just moving problem files off the disk only to move them back on to it again?

    I’m sure I’m missing something – can anyone enlighten me?

    • Depends on what the problem is. If it is an issue with your user and yes, you migrate the user right back onto the clean install – then the issue is still there. If it is in the core files, then when you migrate data back after Snow Leopard installs then chances are less likely that an issue will still occur.

  11. skorecky

    The only reason why I would clean install is if they finally add the option for the ZFS disk format. Otherwise it sounds like an upgrade may be the way to go.

  12. Adam Blaiss

    I’ll be curious to hear if there’s a benefit to just running an upgrade, vs, formatting your drive and starting all over again. With a Time Machine backup and a SuperDuper disk, there should be little risk to installing fresh. Obviously, you’ll save a lot of time and setup from upgrading, but I’ve always been under the impression (from Windows, at least), that a fresh install of an OS will be better.