Preparing for OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Apple announced the latest version of it’s OS X operating system, on the 10th June 2013, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. In a departure from the current naming system of big cats, the next iteration of OS X, being 10.9, will start a new naming convention taken from places in California. OS X 10.9 will be known as Mavericks, named after the popular surfing location.
In this tutorial, I will examine best what you will need to do to ensure that you Mac is ready for upgrade, from OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, to OS X 10.9 Mavericks when it is released this autumn.

What Will It Cost?

At the time of writing, Apple has not announced any pricing information. Over the years, subsequent versions of OS X have been offered at ever increasingly value-for-money prices.
OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was delivered via DVD and cost £25 in the UK on launch.
Apple ceased supplying DVDs with the release of OS X 10.7 Lion (though it was available for a short time on a USB drive) and cost £20.99 in the UK, preferring a download delivery model via the new Mac App Store, instead.
OS X 10.8 was only available as an upgrade through the Mac App Store and cost £13.99 in the UK. Compare this to £99.99 for Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, and any upgrade to OS X is an absolute steal!


Following on from 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion, it’s pretty safe to say that OS X 10.9 Mavericks will only be available as a digital download for Macs that require upgrading.

System Requirements

As of its beta release, OS X Mavericks is compatible with all Macs that are capable of running OS X Mountain Lion.
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or later)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
It is likely that this will not change between the beta and the retail version, but it must be understood that some features of Mavericks software may not be compatible with older hardware.

Checking Hardware Compatibility

To check to see if your Mac is compatible, click on the Apple at the farmost left of the menu bar and select About This Mac then click More Info.
About This Mac
The easy way to verify what model of Mac you are using.
You will be shown an overview details window with information about your Mac.

Checking Memory

To check to see if how much memory is installed in your Mac, click on the Apple at the farmost left of the menu bar and select About This Mac then click More Info followed by the Memory tab.
Checking the memory installed in your Mac.
In order to run OS X 10.9 Mavericks, your Mac must have at least 2 GB of memory. From my own experience of running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, on a Mac mini, my recommendation would be to look at 4GB being an absolute minimum for Mavericks, otherwise it you run very slowly indeed.
Better still, I’d recommend at least 8GB or more if you can afford it. Probably the best place for memory upgrades for your Mac is Cruical.

Checking Software Compatibility

Before upgrading to Mavericks, your Mac will need at least 8 GB of available hard disc space and be running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7, or later.
Snow Leopard 10.6.7, Lion and Mountain Lion all have the Mac App Store, which is a requirement for the digital download delivery mechanism to install OS X Mavericks.
In terms of third party apps, you will need to consult with the developers of each app to determine whether your software will be compatible with Mavericks.
For previous OS X updates to Lion and Mountain Lion, a hugely useful resource has been Roaring Apps. This site maintains a Wiki, to which anyone may contribute for the good of the Mac community, in sharing information about compatibility of apps between versions of OS X.
It is likely that Roaring Apps will be updated to include information regarding Mavericks compatible apps. It’s a huge timesaver.

Perform Apple Software and Firmware Updates

To check to see if how much memory is installed in your Mac, click on the Apple at the farmost left of the menu bar and select Software Update. This launches the Mac App Store and checks for any availabe software upates.
Update the software, and firmware if applicable, with the software updates that are available, prior to attempting to upgrade your Mac. Note that some upgrades may require your Mac to reboot in order to install them. This is especially true of firmware updates.
Software Updates
Checking that all the software is up-to-date on the Mac.

Backing Up Data

This is imperative! It is essential that you back up your data before attempting to upgrade your operating system.
Backing up data is not a matter of life and death. It’s more important than that. (With apologies to Bill Shankly.)
There are many ways in which you can go about backing up your data, on the Mac. In fact, Apple makes this quite easy, with Time Machine, and other app developers have created invaluable tools such as SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner. Furthermore, cloud-based services such as Dropbox provide even more ways to ensure that your data is safe.
My recommendation would be to perform at least two back ups and to test that they work. My favoured method is a Time Machine back up and a straight clone of the hard drive with SuperDuper! In addition to those, I use Dropbox to store lots of my data.
Tip: To learn more about backing up your data, take a look at the tutorials in our Data Backups and Storage session.

Upgrade or Clean Install?

Apple makes the process, to upgrade to each new version of OS X, very simple such that you might have upgraded through a number of iterations of OS X already.
The question regarding an upgrade or a clean install, the latter being the reformatting of the hard drive and the complete installation of OS X from scratch, is one of personal preference.
A colleague of mine had been experiencing a number of performance issues with her MacBook Pro. It transpired that she had upgraded through a number of versions of OS X, picked up a ton of software along the way – including two different versions of the Adobe suite of programs – and then used a Time Machine back up to restore all of this information onto her new MacBook Pro. Along with it came a number of software problems and glitches that impacted the performance o fthe machine.
For me, personally, I prefer the clean install approach. A cathartic experience that allows me to ensure that OS X is running at optimal efficiency whereby I only install the apps that I depend upon and think carefully about installing anything else.


With the imminent release of Mavericks, a little bit of planning now will make the transition trouble-free. In this tutorial I have shown how to check your hardware and software compatibility, I’ve shown you the importance of backing up your data and I’ve looked at upgrades versus clean installs.
Before you jump into Mavericks, perform an audit of the software that you use on your Mac to ensure that it is all compatible, or can be upgraded, before you upgrade the operating system. This will avoid the risk of problems following an upgrade to Mavericks.


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