How-to

6 Easy Steps to Get Your Mac Ready for Yosemite

apple_invite-100500083-largeIf Apple releases OS X Yosemite at today’s press event, I will be hitting that download button right away. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps I took to make sure my Mac is ready. Even though I have never had issues caused by system downloads before, I always make sure my Mac is backed up, cleaned up, updated and backed up again. At the very least, annual system upgrades keep me on track for an annual cleaning to get rid of all those digital dust bunnies. 

1. Backup. Hopefully, you already have automatic backups with either a desktop program, such as Apple’s Time Machine, or with an off-site backup service, such as CrashPlan. But, if you’re a belt-and-suspenders person like me, it can’t hurt to hit that manual backup button before you download Yosemite.

If you do not have a backup plan, grab a separate hard drive and copy all your files: documents, photos, music, and so forth. If you’re short on time, you probably don’t need to back up software, which can be reinstalled.

If you do only one thing today: hit that Backup button!

2. Check up. Is your Mac compatible?  In general, Macs that can run Mavericks will be able to run Yosemite.  If you’re not sure, check Apple’s list. You’ll need a minimum of 4 GB of RAM, plus 8 GB of free disk space.

Click the Apple icon in the upper left of your screen and select About This Mac.

  • Look at Memory to see how much RAM you have.
  • Make sure you have the latest version of Mavericks, 10.9.5 as of this writing.
  • Click the More Info button: the next screen will display your Mac’s model year.
  • Click the Storage tab (top, third from left) to make sure you have enough free storage.

Although 8 GB of free disk space is the minimum, I have found that when my Mac gets below 10% free space, it gets really slow. If you don’t have plenty of free space, consider a major cleanup before you install Yosemite.

3. Clean up. If you have enough free space, a full cleanup isn’t necessary, but  you might as well tidy things up if you have time.  Check out my previous article on slimming down your Mac files for tips on clearing out installers, unused apps, old files, and other cruft that can slow you down.

4. Update. Check that you’re running the latest versions of the non-Apple software you use most.

  • App Store software. For programs available through the App Store, pull down the menu under your Apple icon and select App Store. Click the Updates button. If anything needs updating, it will show up here.
  • Other software. Open other programs you use regularly – MS Office and Adobe Suite for example – and take a quick look. Most programs have a Check for Updates select under the Help pulldown menu. If you haven’t already done so, you might check under the program’s Preferences to see if there is an option to update automatically.

5. Fix up. Every once in a while, even a Mac can mis-label or misplace files. It’s a good idea to Verify and Repair Disk Permissions every so often. Go to your Applications folder and scroll down to Utilities. In Utilities, open Disk Utility. Select your hard drive and click the First Aid tab. Click the Repair Disk Permissions radio button and wait a few minutes for the program to run. (If Repair is unavailable, click Verify Disc Permissions. Once Verify has completed running, try Repair again.)

6. Backup. Yes, again. If you’ve done steps 2-5 above, you’ll want to save your efforts. Again, I have never had a crash or lost files because of a system backup. But I don’t want to be that one person that it could happen to, either.

YosemiteLogo

When should I update?

Personally, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning – I can’t wait to play with the new toys. I am willing to put up with the very slim possibility of a few early glitches, just to see what new tools Apple is giving us. I’ll be hitting the update button just as soon as Tim Cook announces that Yosemite is available.

But if Yosemite becomes available while I’m on a tight deadline or working on a particularly complex project, I’ll wait for the weekend. Every major update has a learning curve. Even something as simple as a menu item that used to be here and gets moved over there only adds frustration when the pressure is on. There is no sense taking on a major update until I have time to spend exploring it.

Others prefer to wait a bit until the inevitable OS “.1” version comes out, usually within the following week.  Yosemite’s beta version has been out in the wild for a few months already, as has their gold standard version, so I’m confident that any major bugs have been worked out. But if you don’t want to take any chances, wait a week or two for any possible updates.

Ready for fun!

Will Yosemite become available today, October 16, 2014? Only Apple knows. Yosemite was promised for October, so whether or not it’s available today, my Mac is ready.

Are you looking forward to Yosemite? If so, leave a comment. I’ll be writing about my favorite features soon, so check back for more.

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