Things to prepare before upgrading your Mac to Snow Leopard

Don’t judge the book by the cover. That statement might be the perfect analogy of what I feel after upgrading to the latest OS from Apple – Snow Leopard. At first glance, everything looks the same as the previous Leopard – as beautiful, but nothing new. (And honestly, I was expecting a little bit drama here). But the more I use it, the more “wow moments” I get – starting from the bumping number of my remaining hard drive space to the tidy-organized look of Exposé effect. (I am on the treasure hunting mode now trying to find tiny gems scattered all over the place.)

Being the techie-geek that I am, I jumped out at the first chance of upgrading my Mac system from Leopard (10.5) to Snow Leopard (10.6), but everyday Mac users might not be as eager as me. So, if you are still considering on whether you should add the snow to the leopard, here are few things to help you make the decision.

To 2upgrade or not to upgrade

This is a simple question to answer: upgrade! All of the improvements should be good enough reasons to do so, but Apple has made the decision making even easier by pricing the new operating system at a ridiculously US$29.

But there are some caveats here: Snow Leopard is designed for Mac Intel only, so if your system is still PowerPC based, you are out of luck. (Maybe now it’s the perfect time to go Intel?) Apple also made it clear that the US$ 29 upgrade is only for Leopard, while Tiger (10.4) users should go with the US$ 169 Mac Box Set (iLife ’09 and iWork ’09 included).


While the higher price of Mac Box Set is justified by iLife and iWork, please note that Tiger users has other option because many Mac users has confirmed that the US$29 Snow Leopard will upgrade any Intel Mac.

Preparing Your System

If you’ve decided to take the chance, there are few things to do prior upgrading to Snow Leopard.

1. Check for incompatible applications

As with any OS upgrade, there are always issues of incompatibilities. To give you a headstart of what might happen to your software after Snow Leopard upgrade, Apple has released a list of incompatible software which will be moved to a folder called – well – Incompatible Software.

01 Incompatible Software

You might also want to check other Snow Leopard compatibility list on this Wikidot page.

2. Do some spring cleaning

It’s also a good idea to clean up your system a little bit before doing the upgrade. You can do this by uninstalling unused applications – using uninstaller like AppTrap, and by doing some system maintenance – using something like Onyx. Both apps are free and ironically, both haven’t had Snow Leopard-compatible version – yet.


3. Back up your data

There are just too many examples about how important backing up your data is that I don’t have to do restate it again here. Beside Apple’s Time Machine, another free alternative to back up utilities is CarbonCopyCloner.

Carbon Copy Cloner

4. Make a bootable back up system

If you have an unused extra external hard drive and if you are really paranoid, you could copy a bootable system of your current Mac before installing Snow Leopard. You can use the free trial of SuperDuper for this purpose.


The Upgrading Process

And finally, the upgrade. You may say this is like an anticlimax to the whole story, but the upgrade process itself is a snap. You just:

  • insert the Snow Leopard Install DVD,
  • reboot the system,
  • hold down the Alt/Option key during rebooting to make the booting option appears. (Or not. I need to hold the Alt/Option during my upgrade, but some users report that they don’t have to).
  • Choose the install DVD to boot,
  • Follow the instruction on the screen (and for those who want to do clean install: choose Disk Utility from Utility menu at the welcome screen, and do some formatting and repartitioning the disk. Warning: not for the faint hearted!)
  • Go get something to drink while waiting.

With the system upgraded to Snow Leopard, it’d be perfect to look at all of the improvements the new OS brings. So, please save that thought for our next discussion.

Have you upgraded your system to Snow Leopard? Or will you? Share your thoughts, opinions, upgrading tips and tricks, using the comment below.

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