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Take Control of Upgrading to Mavericks
Install Mavericks easily, and fly through important post-installation steps!
Gain confidence and stay in control as Mac guru Joe Kissell explains how to ensure that your hardware and software are ready for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, prevent problems with a bootable duplicate of your main disk, and decide on your best installation method, whether you're upgrading from 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, or 10.8 Mountain Lion.
You'll find smart suggestions for managing the installer, with tips for installing on multiple Macs and dealing with bandwidth limitations. Joe walks you through installing Mavericks and then gives important advice for handling your Mac when it first starts up in Mavericks, including working through a pile of post-installation alerts, signing in with the right Apple ID(s), turning on iCloud Keychain, enabling enhanced (and local) dictation, managing user accounts, and quite a bit more.
Additional important topics include troubleshooting installation problems, upgrading from an older Mac or PC to a new Mac running Mavericks, and a brief look at installing OS X Server.
You'll experience an easy upgrade and quickly deal with post-installation quirks with these topics:
Start fast: A short Quick Start overview links to detailed content behind each topic, letting you read lightly or more deeply, depending on your specific needs.
Catch the wave: Find out what you can look forward to in Mavericks, and why this upgrade is important for Apple.
Older cat upgrades: For people who are upgrading from 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, or 10.6 Snow Leopard, Joe offers advice about the most effective way to carry out an upgrade.
Compatibility check: Make sure your hardware and software are ready for Mavericks, and consider if this might be a good time for new hardware, even if it's not essential for your upgrade. (Tip: if your Mac can run Mountain Lion, it can also run Mavericks.)
Prep steps: Avoid upgrade calamities by ensuring you can go back to the previous state of your Mac - and that you can boot from your backup. This crucial step can save a lot of trouble, and Joe recommends software that can make a bootable duplicate without a huge hassle. Also, your operating system is getting a fresh start, but what about the rest of your stuff? Whether you need the disk space or just want to delete some digital detritus, you'll find helpful tips. You'll also run Apple Hardware Test (or Apple Diagnostics) and Disk Utility, to be sure your disk is good to go. Finally, for those who need it, Joe discusses special cases relating to disk encryption (including FileVault) and partitioning.
Picking a plan: Decide on your installation method. Most people can go with an easy in-place upgrade, but some will want the more complex clean install. 10.5 Leopard users will find special help, and those still on 10.4 Tiger get a special sidebar.
Installing: Find out the smartest way to download and store the installer, with special tips for people who want to install on more than one Mac or who have bandwidth limitations. And, although running the installer will be easy for many people, you'll get full steps for what to click and when.
Post-installation tune-up: Make sure your new system is running smoothly with a few important housekeeping tasks, including managing Spotlight, Software Update, Java Runtime, enhanced dictation, user accounts, Apple IDs, iCloud Keychain, FileVault, Time Machine, iTunes changes, and more. Plus learn how to unhide the user Library folder.
Troubleshooting: Yikes! It is possible that something will go wrong during installation, or once you've booted up under Mavericks that you'll discover an important incompatibility with an existing piece of software. Find time-tested troubleshooting advice to get your system working again. Plus learn what the Recovery HD volume can do for you.
Migrating to a new Mac: If your "upgrade" includes moving from an older computer (Mac or Windows PC) to a new Mac that's running Mavericks, learn the best way to move your user account to the new Mac.
Installing OS X Server: Find a brief introduction to OS X Server, plus basic steps for downloading and installing it.
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Reviews of Previous Editions
Table of Contents
Read Me First
Upgrading your Mac to a new operating system can be a daunting prospect, but with some expert advice, you’ll be running OS X 10.9 Mavericks in no time. This book eliminates the uncertainty and the confusion, guiding you through every step of the process and offering key post-installation advice. It was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Tonya Engst, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
Ten years ago, in October 2003, I wrote the very first Take Control book—Take Control of Upgrading to Panther (that is, Mac OS X 10.3). It was a runaway hit, and in the years that followed I went on to write books about upgrading to Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion. Apple’s latest operating system, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, finally does away with “big cat” names and instead refers to a popular surfing spot in northern California. As in past years, I’ve put together a guide to help you through every step of the upgrade process.
At first glance, Mavericks looks an awful lot like its predecessor, Mountain Lion. Even the installer is quite similar, with a handful of relatively small changes. Apple has continued to polish and refine the upgrade experience to make it as foolproof as it can be. This is also the third major release of Mac OS X to be sold through the Mac App Store, and while the absence of physical installation media produced a small uproar a couple of years ago, it’s now (mostly) uncontroversial.
In short, if you’ve been through this process before, it should be pretty much what you expect: more of the same, with an excellent chance of smooth sailing. For a large percentage of users, upgrading will be no more complicated than downloading and installing any other app, except that it will take a good bit longer.
So, if Apple has done such a brilliant job of making upgrades simple, what’s the point of a book like this?
For one thing, if you’ve never upgraded your Mac’s operating system (or haven’t done so in a long time), you may be uncertain about what the process involves or anxious about making a mistake. This book offers clear, step-by-step instructions that will keep you out of trouble and explain all the choices you’ll have to make.
Even experienced Mac users may want to take extra precautions with such a major upgrade. The Mavericks installer offers no “undo” or “downgrade” command to reverse the upgrade process if something should go wrong, and without careful planning (which includes making just the right sort of backup ahead of time), you could be stuck with a nonfunctional Mac. I walk you through all the preliminary procedures necessary to ensure a safe transition to Mavericks—or a way to go back to your previous operating system if all else fails.
Backups also factor into a clean install—that is, putting Mavericks on an empty disk or partition, as opposed to upgrading an existing copy of Mac OS X in place. In most cases, a clean install is extra effort with no practical value, but it can solve certain problems, and some people like doing clean installs just for the sake of tidiness. Nevertheless, you’ll undoubtedly want most, if not all, of your old files under Mavericks, so if you decide on a clean install, I explain how to do it as well as how to put back the stuff you want to keep.
I also explain why Apple’s minimum system requirements don’t tell the whole story about what you need to run Mavericks successfully, offer advice on avoiding software incompatibilities, show you how to recover disk space if you don’t have enough to upgrade your system, and explore several other issues that can complicate the process.
Perhaps the biggest complication is what to do if your Mac is running a much older version of Mac OS X, such as 10.5 Leopard or 10.4 Tiger. Although it’s possible to move to Mavericks from these systems (assuming your Mac meets the hardware requirements), the process is neither simple nor obvious. I explain exactly what to do in those cases.
If you’ve upgraded Mac OS X before, keep excellent backups, and have up-to-date hardware and software, you don’t need my help with the upgrade process—but you may still appreciate learning all the post-installation tricks and tips I’ve discovered. And if you feel anxiety, confusion, or uncertainty about upgrading to Mavericks, you’ve come to the right place. In this book, I spell everything out in detail. Follow my steps carefully, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
If anything significant turns up that I didn’t cover in this ebook, I’ll mention it on this book’s blog, update the text of the ebook, or both. To check for an updated copy of this ebook (or any other significant changes), click the link in Ebook Extras.
I’ve carefully arranged this book in logical order—I strongly recommend performing these steps in the order that I present them. You need not learn every last detail, but I hope you’ll at least skim the whole thing. Here’s a brief overview of the steps you should take.
Tip: Does your “upgrade” involve moving from a Windows PC or from an older Mac to a new Mac? Read Migrate to a New Mac right away!
Discover what you have to look forward to when you upgrade to Mavericks. Read Catch the Wave.
Are you still using 10.6 Snow Leopard or earlier? If so, you’ll need additional information to put you on a level field with users of Lion or Mountain Lion. Learn about software compatibility issues, FileVault, how Mavericks is distributed, and changes you can expect in the installer. See Older Cat? Learn New Tricks.
Make sure your computer can run Mavericks. See Check Your Mac for Compatibility.
Back up before you go forward! See Back Up Your Disk.
Make sure key software is up to date, remove clutter that could interfere with the upgrade, and test your hardware for errors. See Clean Up Your Mac.
Learn how encryption and partitioning can affect the way you install and use Mavericks, and what changes you might need to make to ensure a smooth transition. Read Make Sure Your Disk Is Ready.
Decide which overall upgrade strategy is best for you. See Decide on an Installation Method.
Make Final Preparations such as obtaining the Mavericks installer, updating your bootable duplicate, and ensuring that you have a way to refer to this book while you upgrade (since you won’t be able to read it on the Mac that’s being upgraded).
Follow the strategy you selected earlier to run the Mavericks installer, choosing all the optimal settings and options for your computer and tastes, and making sure all your personal data is still in place afterward. You’ll do one of the following:
Upgrade Using Plan A: In-place Upgrade
Upgrade Using Plan B: Clean Install
Upgrade Using Plan C: Install over Leopard
Perform Post-installation Tasks, such as installing updates to OS X, configuring iCloud Keychain, and migrating iBooks content. You’ll also deal with any surprises that may occur along the way.
Optionally Configure Additional Features such as FileVault and Time Machine.
Problems? If your computer isn’t working properly after the upgrade, don’t panic. See Troubleshoot Upgrade Problems.
If you want to Install OS X Server, read my basic instructions to get you started.
Moving from an older Mac or from a Windows PC to a new Mac that already has Mavericks installed? Find the details on how to make the process painless in Migrate to a New Mac.
Learn how to Use Recovery Mode to fix disk problems, reinstall Mavericks, and perform other maintenance tasks.
In the first few days following the release of Mavericks, a number of issues came to light that may affect the way you approach upgrading—in fact, some users now feel it’s best to postpone moving to Mavericks until Apple works out some of these early issues. Version 1.2 of this book discusses some of my post-release findings, including the following:
Mail in Mavericks has significant issues, especially for Gmail users with lots of email messages. See Address Mail Problems before you upgrade.
The Theater mode in Messages is now gone, with no obvious replacement. See Messages Theater.
The Mavericks installer contains a new command-line tool that lets you create a bootable Mavericks installer disk, as long as you don’t mind fiddling in Terminal. Read Make a Bootable Mavericks Installer Volume.
You can skip creating an iCloud Security Code when setting up iCloud Keychain, with the result that your keychains will still sync but your password data won’t be stored in iCloud. See Set Up iCloud Keychain.
I give a few tips for enjoying the new way that Mavericks handles multiple monitors and explain what to do should you need to expand a single window across more than one display. See Multiple Display Changes.
If you’ve read version 1.0 of this ebook already, you’re way ahead of the game. Here’s what you need to know now.
As long as you’ve already followed all the steps in version 1.0 of this ebook up through Make Sure Your Disk Is Ready, there’s no need to revisit those chapters; you’re ready to pick up with the new material. However, I did add a few pieces of information to those earlier chapters that you may find interesting:
Mavericks no longer includes Sync Services, and this omission may cause problems for some users (see Should You Think Twice Before Upgrading?; more details in Deal with Other Surprises).
Macs shipped starting in June 2013 include Apple Diagnostics in place of Apple Hardware Test (see Run Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics).
The final (version 10.9.0) Mavericks installer is 5.29 GB.
As I expected, the Mavericks license is similar to that of Mountain Lion. It authorizes you
to download, install, use and run for personal, non-commercial use, one (1) copy of the Apple Software directly on each Apple-branded computer running OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Lion or OS X Snow Leopard (“Mac Computer”) that you own or control…
(Terms for educational and commercial use differ. Also, you may run Mavericks in a virtual machine, with some limitations.)
Upgrading from Leopard? Plan C: Install over Leopard now includes an easier installation option than I was expecting.
That’s all you need to know for now. You can skip directly to Make Final Preparations and proceed with the remaining installation steps!
Mavericks's basic hardware requirements are somewhat complex, but haven't changed from Mountain Lion. According to Apple, you'll need not just an Intel Core 2 Duo or better processor, but also a logic board that’s designed to boot into a 64-bit kernel, as well as an "advanced GPU (graphics processing unit) chipset." Apple lists which Mac models meet these requirements at http://www.apple.com/osx/specs/.
To find out which Mac model you have:
If you're running at least 10.7 Lion, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and then click More Info. Then choose Window > About This Mac.
If you're running 10.6 Snow Leopard or earlier, it's a little complicated. You could buy this ebook for more help—you can ask for a refund if it turns out that your Mac is too old. Another resource is the MacTracker app.
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
I followed your instructions pretty closely, and I'm happy to say that I didn't need the extra backup. But, now that I have this nifty external drive that's up to date I am ready to take it to my next computer, sync everything, and do it all over again. Having a process really increased my confidence level, got me to slow down and think about the upgrade. ... Thank you once again for writing such enjoyable tech. —Don Meares
These comments are about earlier editions of this book.
I just did an upgrade to Mountain Lion from Lion and all I can say is....WOW! Your Take Control instructions were educational, informative, and well directed.
Thanks so much for a super ebook for upgrading to Lion. I upgraded earlier today with my iMac. I had ZERO problems due to your ebook. And, all my third-party apps which I upgraded, as appropriate, worked fine. —Barry B.
I bought both Take Control books—'Upgrading to Lion' and 'Using Lion'. They've been great value and really very useful. I upgraded four Macs with no problems whatsoever after creating a boot disc as described. Where I needed to keep Snow Leopard alongside Lion, because of PPC software, I followed the instructions and once again, experienced a smooth installation. —Dave W.
Excellent books, and really useful advice. I successfully upgraded to Lion following your advice and guidance....If I had not purchased these books I would have definitely run into trouble. I had no idea the upgrade was something that had to be handled with such a lot of preparation and thought. —Thanks, C.P.
January 23, 2014 -- We have no special plan for updating this title in the near future. It does a fine job of describing how to update to Mavericks as it is.
—Tonya J Engst
October 31, 2013 --
If you use a Western Digital hard drive, be aware that the bundled utilities could cause data loss under Mavericks. Western Digital is recommending that users delay upgrading or delete the utilities. Learn more in my TidBITS article about this issue: Western Digital Warning Mavericks Users of Data Loss.
UPDATE (January 22, 2014): Western Digital has a firmware update available for affected devices. For details, see My Book Essential (USB 3.0) software update for Mac users.
October 31, 2013 --
Progress marches on, and even though we just released version 1.2 of Take Control of Upgrading to Mavericks, a few additional pieces of information have already emerged.
First, the app formerly known as Lion DiskMaker has been renamed to the less anachronistic and more future-proof DiskMaker X. Its capabilities remain the same.
Second, Apple has posted a support article titled OS X Mavericks: Home folder appears to be different after completing Setup Assistant, which describes a situation that can occur if a Mavericks installation is aborted partway through (for example, if the computer was powered off during installation) and the installer prompts you to create a new user account. It's no big deal; you just have to go through a short procedure to log in to your original account. But it's worth knowing about.
Finally, my own solution to Gmail and Mail in Mavericks not getting along has been to ditch Gmail in favor of a real IMAP provider. I posted my story at Macworld: Why (and how) I'm saying goodbye to Gmail.
October 14, 2013 --
Who is the tall dark stranger riding into town? Mavericks is its name. Pull up a chair and sit down for a spell as Joe Kissell tells Chuck Joiner of MacVoices what you need to do to prepare your Mac for OS X 10.9 Mavericks. The discussion includes backup strategies, software upgrades, and more. Special bonus for viewers of the video feed: the striking beauty of Joe's aloha shirt in gorgeous digital color!
—Michael E. Cohen
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