Install Mavericks easily, and fly through important post-installation steps!

Take Control of
Upgrading to Mavericks

Joe Kissell

Install OS X 10.9 Mavericks on your Mac easily and learn what to do immediately after you install with Joe Kissell’s expert help, informed by countless test installs! Find essential advice on problem prevention, prepping your disk, and picking the best installation method. Joe also covers troubleshooting techniques, and what to do if your “upgrade” is a new Mac.

This product has been discontinued.

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.

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife, his two children, and his cat.

What’s New in Version 1.2

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.

What Was New in Version 1.1

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!

Before I buy this ebook, can you tell me if my Macintosh will work with OS X 10.9 Mavericks?

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

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.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Mavericks Upgrade Quick Start
  • Readers
  • Catch the Wave
  • Older Cat? Learn New Tricks
  • Check Your Mac for Compatibility
  • Back Up Your Disk
  • Clean Up Your Mac
  • Make Sure Your Disk Is Ready
  • Decide on an Installation Method
  • Make Final Preparations
  • Upgrade Using Plan A: In-place Upgrade
  • Upgrade Using Plan B: Clean Install
  • Upgrade Using Plan C: Install over Leopard
  • Perform Post-installation Tasks
  • Configure Additional Features
  • Troubleshoot Upgrade Problems
  • Install OS X Server
  • Migrate to a New Mac
  • Use Recovery Mode
  • About This Book
  • On MacVoices Joe Kissell Explains How to Get Ready for Mavericks

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on 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!

    September 5, 2014 -- We don’t plan to update the Mavericks edition of this ebook again, but check the <a href=catalog>Take Control catalog</a> to find similar titles about later versions of OS X.

    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.
    —Kristopher Johnson

    Thanks So Much

    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.

    Great Value

    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.

    Really Useful Advice

    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.

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