The Basics of Apple's New OS - OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion 101

The Basics of Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion, OS X 10.8, is Apple's latest OS for Macs. We run through some basics of this new OS including the installation process, performance improvements and also its new features.

Mountain Lion, OS X 10.8, is the ninth edition of Apple’s desktop OS. Announced earlier this year in February, it was officially made available on July 25 through the Mac App Store. And for the first time, Mountain Lion will only exclusively be available through the Mac App Store. There will be no physical purchase of Mountain Lion. What this really means is that one would need the Mac App Store, which is available from Snow Leopard upwards (OS X 10.6.6) to purchase and install Mountain Lion.

In this article, we will go through some of the basics of Mountain Lion: what you need to install it, the installation process, performance boost (if any), discuss some of the new features in brief, and finally offer our overall thoughts about Apple's latest desktop OS. First, let's begin with what you need to install Mountain Lion.


System Requirements

First thing to note before installing Mountain Lion is that it meets Apple’s system requirements, which are as follows:

  • 2GB RAM
  • 8GB of storage available
  • Running at least Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Additionally, even if you meet system requirements listed above, only the following models are supported:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)


Installation Process

Before installing Mountain Lion, it’s always good to make a backup of your system in case something goes wrong. Also, if you are running Snow Leopard, make sure it’s been updated to 10.6.8.

At 4.35GB, the installer is a pretty big file, so make sure you set time aside for the download, which, depending on your Internet connection, would take around 30 minutes to an hour.

Depending on your Internet connection, downloading Mountain Lion off the Mac App Store should take around 30 minutes. The size of the installer is about 4.35GB. After the download is complete, you should see the Install OS X Mountain in your Applications folder. Click on it to run and the app will prepare your Mac for installation. In our experience, this process takes only a few minutes. Once done, your system will reboot for the actual installation.

The actual installation takes much longer, around 40 minutes to a full hour, depending on your system specs. The whole process is fairly straightforward so there's not much else to describe.

Updating Multiple Mac Systems

One thing to note is that the license agreement in Mountain Lion allows you to install it on any other Mac computers so long as it meets the system requirements listed above. So if you have multiple Macs and you wish to upgrade them to Mountain Lion, we recommend making a copy of the installer app on a flash drive so that you can simply copy them onto your other Macs without having to download it again from the Mac App Store. Power-user Tip: You should copy the file out before installing Mountain Lion on the first system because as part of the installation process, the installer app will be deleted.

Upgrading from Leopard?

Still on the topic of installing Mountain Lion, apart from the fact that Mountain Lion can only be downloaded via the Mac App Store, there's actually no other real reason why you couldn't install Mountain Lion over Leopard. So, for example if you have Snow Leopard family license and decided to leave one of your older Macs to run Leopard, you could actually easily install Mountain Lion over Leopard without first upgrading it to Snow Leopard. This can save you a lot of time. Specifically, the Mountain Lion installer only checks a particular file, so if you are familiar with the workings of OS X, you could actually easily install Mountain Lion over Leopard as detailed here

Obsessed with technology?
Subscribe to the latest tech news as well as exciting promotions from us and our partners!
By subscribing, you indicate that you have read & understood the SPH's Privacy Policy and PDPA Statement.