Get your Mac ready for Mavericks (OS X 10.9)

This is a discussion on Get your Mac ready for Mavericks (OS X 10.9) within the Mac OS X forums, part of the Mac Software category; Apple has released to developers the golden master of Mavericks (OS X 10.9) – the final non-public version, and most likely the build that will ...

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    Get your Mac ready for Mavericks (OS X 10.9)

    Apple has released to developers the golden master of Mavericks (OS X 10.9) – the final non-public version, and most likely the build that will become the official 10.9.0. That means that the official public release of Mavericks isn’t far off. We’re still waiting on a specific date for that release – at WWDC earlier this year, Apple said only ‘this spring’ – but for those aiming to upgrade as soon as the new OS drops, the golden master means that now is the time to start getting your Mac ready for Mavericks.

    As with Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) last year, and Lion (OS X 10.7) before that, Apple is advertising Mavericks as a major upgrade that’s nevertheless simple to install. But as with every big upgrade to OS X, there are a few things you can do before upgrading to ensure that your Mac is ready to go.

    What you need

    Apple hasn’t officially released the system requirements for Mavericks, but from what we’ve seen so far, the new OS supports any Mac that works with Mountain Lion and is already running OS X 10.6.8 or later. That list of compatible models is:

    iMac (mid 2007 or newer)
    MacBook (late 2008 Aluminum, or early 2009 or newer)
    MacBook Air (late 2008 or newer)
    MacBook Pro 13in (mid 2009 or newer)
    MacBook Pro 15in (mid/late 2007 or newer)
    MacBook Pro 17in (Late 2007 or newer)
    Mac mini (early 2009 or newer)
    Mac Pro (early 2008 or newer)
    Xserve (early 2009)
    (Note that while the above computers should be able to install Mavericks, some features, such as Power Nap, AirPlay mirroring and extended desktop, and AirDrop, have stricter requirements.)

    Apple also hasn’t yet said how much RAM (memory) you should have to run Mavericks, but I suspect the official recommendation will be 2GB. In my experience with recent versions of OS X, you’ll enjoy better results with at least 4GB. If you have only 2GB installed – and especially if you have only 1GB – you should consider a hardware upgrade, if that’s possible with your particular Mac model, before installing Mavericks. A word of advice here: if you don’t buy your RAM directly from Apple, be sure you get RAM that’s specifically guaranteed for use in Macs. Some third-party RAM that’s not up to Apple’s specs will cause problems when you upgrade your OS. Most reputable vendors will make it clear which RAM they offer is specifically compatible with Macs.

    Similarly, Apple usually states that you should have at least 8GB of free space on your Mac’s drive to install a major OS X update, but I recommend playing it safe by aiming for 15GB to 20GB – the Mavericks installer itself is likely to be around 5GB in size, and you’ll need some room for temporary files. (You may also find, especially if you’re upgrading from Snow Leopard, that some of Maverick’s features require more ‘everyday’ free space, as was the case with Lion and Mountain Lion.) If you need to free up space on your drive, you can use a utility such as WhatSize or GrandPerspective to help you find big files you can get rid of. We’ve also got some specific suggestions for freeing up drive space.

    In Lion and Mountain Lion, you can check your Mac's specs using the About This Mac window (left); Snow Leopard users can use Mactracker to identify their Mac model (right).

    Not sure which Mac you own or how much RAM or free drive space it has? Choose ‘About This Mac’ from the Apple Menu, and then click ‘More Info’. In Mountain Lion and Lion, the resulting window displays, by default, your computer model and its year and version. Click the Storage tab to view your drive’s free space, and click Memory to check the amount of RAM. In Snow Leopard, you get a System Profiler window: select Memory to check the RAM amount; select Serial-ATA, and then select your drive’s name on the right, to see your free drive space.

    Unfortunately, Snow Leopard’s System Profiler window doesn’t display your Mac’s actual model year/version. However, the excellent Mactracker (Mac App Store link) makes it easy to find this information. Just launch MacTracker and select This Mac on the left, and your Mac’s MacTracker entry – complete with its official model year/version – is displayed to the right.

    The requirement that your Mac be running OS X 10.6.8 or later (including any version of 10.7 or 10.8) is also important. The main reason for this restriction is that, like Lion and Mountain Lion before it, Mavericks will be available only via the Mac App Store; the Mac App Store requires Mac OS X 10.6.6, and Apple recommends OS X 10.6.8 because of enhancements it provides that make upgrades to later versions of OS X go more smoothly.

    In addition, Apple recommends – and so do I – that you install the very latest updates to Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion (whichever you’re currently running) before upgrading to Mavericks, so be sure to check for any available updates. (See ‘Pre-install tasks’ below.)

    What if you’ve got a Mavericks-compatible Mac that’s still running Leopard (OS X 10.5)? The easiest option is to purchase Snow Leopard for $20 and install it first, then upgrade to Mavericks when available. You’ll still be paying a reasonable price for a huge OS upgrade. If that isn’t an option for you, for whatever reason, stay tuned. Once Mavericks is released, we’ll explain how to install 10.9 over Leopard, assuming you have the right to do so. (If you’ve got one of the two Mac models that originally shipped with OS X 10.4 Tiger and support Mavericks – the Mmid 2007 iMac and the mid/late 2007 MacBook Pro – and you’re still running Tiger, you’ll definitely want to go the Snow-Leopard-to-Mountain-Lion route.)

    Finally, I’ll repeat a recommendation I’ve made every year since Lion was released. If you’ve got a desktop Mac, I highly recommend picking up Apple’s Magic Trackpad () if you don’t already have one. The systemwide gestures introduced in Lion, and expanded in Mountain Lion, continue to become more pervasive as OS X evolves, and you won’t enjoy the full benefits of Mavericks without a trackpad. (MacBook users, of course, all have trackpads already.) I personally still prefer a mouse or large trackball for general ‘mousing around’, but I keep a Magic Trackpad within reach, just to take advantage of OS X’s gesture-based features. It’s my Magic Gesturepad.

    Pre-install tasks

    While Apple describes the process of upgrading to Mavericks as a simple download and install, those of us who’ve been doing this for a while know that a major OS update is never that simple. Perform the following tasks before the upgrade and you’ll have a much better chance of actually enjoying a pain-free experience.

    Make sure your Mac’s startup drive is in good health. To do so, open Disk Utility (in /Applications/Utilities), select your startup drive from the list on the left, click the First Aid tab to the right, and then click Verify. If Disk Utility finds problems, you’ll need to boot from a different volume to perform the actual repairs using the Repair Disk button. If you’re upgrading from Lion or Mountain Lion and your Mac can use OS X Recovery (known in Lion as Lion Recovery), you can boot into recovery mode (by holding down Command+R at startup) and use Disk Utility from there to perform the repairs.

    Alternatively, if you previously created a bootable Mountain Lion install drive, a bootable Lion install drive for older Macs or for newer Macs, or created a separate Recovery drive, you can boot from that drive and use Disk Utility. If you’re upgrading from Snow Leopard, you can also use Disk Utility when booted from either your Snow Leopard Install DVD or the OS X Install DVD or thumb drive that shipped with your Mac.

    Disk Utility can verify that your Mac's drive is healthy.

    If you’re feeling especially cautious, you can also opt to run Apple Hardware Test(for Macs released before June 2013) or Apple Diagnostics (for Macs released in June 2013 or later). Both check your Mac for other hardware issues, such as bad RAM.

    Back up your Mac, and test that backup. Let me say that again: back up your Mac, and test that backup before installing Mavericks. (See our article on Mac backup plans for more info on backing up your Mac.) I personally recommend creating a bootable clone backup using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, although a Time Machine backup will do, as well. (The advantage of a clone backup is that you can get back up and running immediately if something should go wrong; a clone is a complete, bootable copy of your drive. The advantage of a Time Machine backup is that it keeps the most-recent and older versions of your documents. I personally back up using both methods.)

    To test a clone or other bootable backup, use the Startup Disk pane of System Preferences to boot from the backup drive and verify that everything works just as if you were booted from your Mac’s main drive. To test a Time Machine or other non-bootable backup, try restoring several files – both older ones and newer ones – to make sure you can recover your data should disaster strike.

    Snow Leopard users only: disable FileVault. If you’re upgrading from Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) and you’re using FileVault, OS X’s built-in encryption tool, on any of your Mac’s accounts, I recommend disabling FileVault before upgrading to Mountain Lion. Mavericks, like Mountain Lion and Lion before it, uses a different (and much improved) approach to encryption, called FileVault 2. Apple says you can keep using the Snow Leopard implementation for previously-encrypted user accounts, but FileVault 2 is a much better way to go, so now’s as good a time as any to switch. (As I noted in my previous upgrade guides, I also prefer to not test Murphy’s Law by risking any incompatibilities between the two versions of FileVault.) Once you’ve successfully installed Mavericks, you can enable FileVault 2 in the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences.

    Disable third-party disk encryption. Similarly, if you’re using third-party full-disk-encryption software, you may want to temporarily disable that encryption before upgrading your Mac’s OS. Most of these products interact with your drive and the OS at a low level, and an incompatibility with Mavericks could leave you unable to boot your Mac or, worse, unable to access your data at all. Once Mavericks is up and running and you’ve verified (with the developer) that your encryption software is compatible with OS X 10.9, you can re-enable encryption. However, given that FileVault 2 encrypts your entire drive, you might consider this an opportunity to migrate to OS X’s built-in encryption feature.

    Under Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), you can check for available OS updates using the Mac App Store app.

    Check for system updates and updates to other Apple software. You’ll want to be sure you’ve installed both the latest updates to your currently installed version of OS X – those updates may include changes that are required for upgrading to Mavericks – and the latest versions of any other Apple software that might be affected by the upgrade. To do this in Mountain Lion, open the Mac App Store app and check the Updates screen; any available updates to Mountain Lion and Apple software will appear at the top of the window. In Lion and Mountain Lion, you should run Software Update (accessible from the Apple menu). Regardless of your version of OS X, you should also check for updated firmware for your particular Mac model.

    Check for Mavericks-compatible updates to third-party software. As with any major upgrade to OS X, you’ll likely find that some of your third-party software needs to be updated to work with Mavericks. If you take some time to check compatibility before installing OS X 10.9, you’ll be in a position to get up and running immediately, rather than being frustrated by your favourite apps and add-ons not working.

    To check compatibility, you can visit the website for each individual app and system add-on, but I recommend first checking RoaringApps’ list of Mac software compatibility. (The list includes columns for various versions of OS X – be sure to look at the Mavericks column.) Given that Mavericks hasn’t yet been released, the list isn’t yet anywhere close to being exhaustive, but it will start to fill in quickly as more and more people install and use Mavericks.

    However you check for compatibility, if an app has an update available, you’ll want to download and install it. For apps you’ve obtained via the Mac App Store, this is as simple as launching the App Store app, clicking the Updates button in the toolbar, clicking Update All, and providing your Apple ID and password when prompted. This will download and install all available updates to Mac App Store-purchased software at once.

    For non-Mac App Store apps, you’ll need to manually install updates. Some apps provide a built-in update feature (often accessed by choosing Check For Updates from the application’s Application Name menu or its Help menu); for those that don’t, you’ll need to visit the developer’s website, download the latest version and install it yourself.’s user-contributed list of Mac software compatibility can help you determine if your favourite apps are ready for Mavericks.

    When it comes to software that’s incompatible with the new version of OS X, the biggest offenders will likely be programs and system add-ons that integrate with (or hack) the OS at a low level. Kernel extensions, for example, are notorious for being incompatible with major new versions of OS X, but you may also find that utilities that tweak the Finder, add-ons that improve Mail, and other plug-ins and ‘enhancers’ that work fine under your current OS installation won’t work under Mavericks. (This will be especially likely for people upgrading from Snow Leopard.) Since most of these types of apps and add-ons aren’t allowed on the Mac App Store, be sure to check vendor websites for OS X 10.9-compatible updates before upgrading. (Don’t forget to check third-party System Preferences panes, Mail add-ons, menu-bar apps and web-browser plug-ins.) If it turns out that a particular bit of software is incompatible with Mavericks and doesn’t have an update available, uninstall or disable that software until a compatible version is released.

    Snow Leopard users only: check for really old software. If you’re still running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), you may have a few PowerPC programs – software that was never updated to run natively on Macs with Intel processors – on your drive. Under Snow Leopard and earlier versions of OS X, Apple provided software called Rosetta that allowed PowerPC code to run on Intel Macs. In Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), Rosetta was no longer installed by default, but the OS would offer to download and install Rosetta if you tried to run a PowerPC program. However, Apple killed Rosetta completely when Lion (10.7) was released, and it remains unavailable in Mavericks.

    This means that any PowerPC apps you’ve been using under Snow Leopard won’t work at all in Mavericks. If you’ve got important PowerPC programs (for example, older versions of Quicken for Mac are still surprisingly popular), you’ll need to update those programs to Intel-processor versions, if available, before upgrading to Mavericks. If such updates aren’t available, you’ll want to find acceptable alternatives, whether those are modern Mac alternatives or, if need be, Windows versions that you can run under Boot Camp or virtualisation software such as Parallels or Fusion. (Christopher Breen’s series of articles on Lion and PowerPC software remains useful if you’re still running Snow Leopard.) Alternatively, you could keep an old Mac on hand to run those apps when needed.

    How can you tell which of your applications are PowerPC programs? The easiest way is to launch Snow Leopard’s System Profiler utility (in/Applications/Utilities), select Applications (under Software in the sidebar), and then click the Kind column header, which sorts the list of applications by processor type. Any programs listed as PowerPC will not work under Mavericks, Mountain Lion or Lion. (If you’ve got any listed as Classic, that ship sailed long ago.)

    Set up your iCloud account. Apple’s cloud-syncing service, iCloud, is heavily integrated into many apps and system services. (This integration started in Lion, but it’s become increasingly more prevalent with each major OS X update.) To avoid being hassled about iCloud syncing when you first log in to your new Mavericks installation, simply make sure that you’re logged in to your iCloud account, and that you’ve enabled syncing for the various types of supported data, before upgrading – you’ll just need to provide your iCloud password once you boot into Mavericks. (If you’re upgrading from Snow Leopard and you don’t yet have an iCloud account, you’ll be prompted to create one once you boot into Mavericks for the first time.)

    Suggestion: have an extra drive handy. While most people will simply install Mavericks over Mountain Lion, Lion or Snow Leopard, there are situations in which you may want to install onto an empty drive. For example, if you want to install Mavericks on a second drive to test the OS before upgrading your main drive, or if you want to erase your Mac’s startup drive and start anew. (The latter might be a good idea if your Mac has been having issues, or if your drive is nearly full or in need of repair.) As I’ll cover in an upcoming article on installing Mavericks, installing onto a secondary drive is simple. However, erasing your Mac’s startup drive and starting fresh means having a good, tested backup (see above) as well as a bootable Mavericks install drive, so now’s the time to start preparing.

    Ready and waiting

    Thanks to the Mac App Store, the process of purchasing, obtaining and installing major updates to OS X is easy and relatively quick – remember the days of optical disks and postal-mail delivery? But the better shape your Mac is in before OS X 10.9 arrives, the better experience you’ll have during and after the upgrade. Now that your Mac is properly prepped, stay tuned to Macworld. Whenever the new OS does get officially released, we’ll have a slew of articles on how to install, tweak and use it.


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    I'll wait it out a few months to let the bugs escape...
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    That, my friend is a very wise decision!!
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    Prepare a Mac for OS X Mavericks the Right Way

    OS X Mavericks is the newest major operating system release for Mac users, versioned as OS X 10.9, and it’s just around the corner. Packed with over 200 new feature enhancements and refinements, it includes some very handy new features that will make a lot of Mac users happy, ranging from Finder tags, to tabbed Finder windows, to improved battery life and power management. It’s a great release of OS X and all users that can update their Macs should do so, and that’s what we’re going to help you with; preparing your Mac for the OS X Mavericks update.

    Mavericks is super easy to install, and it’s similar enough to Mountain Lion that it’s unlikely most users will encounter any trouble with the update regarding app compatibility or system support. Nonetheless, major new operating system releases offer a good time to run through a simple check list to insure compatibility of the Mac itself, your apps, and also to do some general clean up, maintenance, and, perhaps most important of all – back ups.

    1: Check Mac System Compatibility

    At it’s core, updating to OS X Mavericks requires the following:

    64-bit Intel CPU
    Advanced GPU
    8GB of free disk space
    OS X Lion or OS X Mountain Lion
    Internet connection so that it can be downloaded from the Mac App Store

    If some of that sounds like jargon gibberish, it’s often easier to think in terms of the newness of Mac models. The newer the Mac the better, but here are the basic supported list of hardware:

    iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
    MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
    MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, 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)

    The list is quite broad, and if a Mac runs Mountain Lion it will run Mavericks too. But generally speaking, the newer the Mac, the better.

    Perhaps the biggest requirement for many users will be having at least 8GB free on the Mac, which can sometimes be cut fairly close with the smaller SSD-based Macs. OmniDiskSweeper is a great tool to help free up available hard drive space, helping you track down what’s eating up drive space – it’s also a free download from here.

    2: Install General System Updates & Update Mac Apps

    Keeping system updates and apps up to date is good policy for stability and security, but you’ll often get new features too. This can be particularly true when apps have been updated to support new major OS X releases, where a potential new feature built into the operating system may need to be independently included within the apps themselves. Thus, take some time to update your apps.

    Updating OS X and your apps through the Mac App Store is remarkably simple:

    Launch the “App Store” from the Applications folder, Launchpad, or Spotlight
    Go to the “Updates” tab and choose “Update All”
    If you have items in the list you do not want to update for some reason, exclude them with a simple right-click “Ignore Update” trick.

    The Mac App Store is obviously simple, but third-party apps downloaded from the web or directly from developers will require you to manually check for updates. Some apps will do this automatically upon launch, and others require another visit to a repository or website to get the latest version.

    The good news is that even if you can’t update every single app for some reason or another, it will probably run just fine in OS X Mavericks if it’s currently running in OS X Lion or OS X Mountain Lion.

    3: Do Some General System Clean Up

    Major OS X updates are a great time to perform some general system maintenance and clean up to help insure things are running in tip-top shape. Much of this is optional, but if you have the time it’s a good idea to perform some cleaning on the Mac:

    Delete old apps you no longer use, usually tossing them into the Trash is enough but you can do a more thorough uninstall if desired
    Trash useless old files from the ~/Downloads/ folder
    Delete unnecessary caches from user folders and old apps
    Clean up files from the desktop, either throw them all into a ‘cleanup’ folder or individually into their appropriate places in your home directory – this is an easy task that helps to speed up older Macs
    Consider running a free app like OmniDiskSweeper to track down large files eating up hard disk space and recover the capacity
    All together it won’t take much time to complete, and you’ll be left with a Mac that has more available drive capacity, less clutter, and often better performance too.

    4: Back Up with Time Machine

    Last but certainly not least, back up the Mac. Having back ups of your important data and files is critical, and Apple’s Time Machine feature makes it so easy to backup everything that there is little reason not to do it. Always, always, back up your Mac before installing a major system update. It’s unlikely something will go wrong, but if something does go haywire you can quickly recover if you have a fresh backup handy.

    It’s good to run a thorough backup or set up Time Machine if you haven’t done so yet, but don’t forget to initiate a quick backup immediately before running the OS X Mavericks installer too. This insures that all recent changes will be kept in the odd event that something goes wrong.

    If you want to be extra cautious with backups, consider setting up a redundant backup using multiple drives with Time Machine, a very easy process that basically provides an automatic backup of your backups. Another redundant backup option would to be use a third party paid service that backs up to the cloud, like CrashPlan or Dropbox.



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    Should you do a ‘clean install’ of Mavericks?

    It used to be that when upgrading to a major new version of OS X, installing over an existing OS X installation for example, installing 10.3 over 10.2 entailed some degree of risk, as existing applications, add-ons and support files could conflict with the new OS. For this reason, many people used to perform a ‘clean install’: wiping your hard drive (after backing it up, of course), installing the latest version of OS X, and then either using Setup/Migration Assistant to restore your applications and data, or manually reinstalling programs and copying over your data. (The Mac OS X 10.2 installer actually included an Archive and Install option, which preserved your original OS in a special folder while installing a completely new, fresh copy of 10.3. This feature was eliminated in the Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 installer.)

    But a new download-and-install procedure debuted with Lion (OS X 10.7) and continued through Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) and now Mavericks (OS X 10.9). Instead of a bootable installation DVD, you download the latest OS X installer to your Mac and install the new OS from the same drive. With the debut of Mavericks, as with Mountain Lion and Lion, many Mac users are asking two related questions: (1) Can you perform a clean install of Mavericks? and (2) Should you? Here’s my take on each of these questions, which is essentially the same as with Mountain Lion last year.

    Can you perform a clean install of Mavericks?

    First, the technical question: given that the OS X 10.9 installer doesn’t include an official clean-install option, is it possible to perform such an installation? The simple answer is: yes. As explained in my main article on installing Mavericks, the installer will let you install the new OS onto a blank drive. So if you first back up your existing Mountain Lion, Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) installation and all your files – I recommend creating a bootable clone using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner – you can then boot from a bootable installer drive, erase your Mac’s normal startup drive, and install Mavericks on it. In fact, you can use the instructions in my article on how to install Mavericks over Leopard. Specifically, scroll down to the section called ‘The brute-force method’ and perform Steps 1 through 7, substituting ‘Mountain Lion’, ‘Lion’ or ‘Snow Leopard’ for ‘Leopard’ – the result is a clean install.

    Once you’ve done this, if you want to use Setup/Migration Assistant to restore data from your backup, proceed with Step 8. If you truly want a clean start, you’ll instead need to manually copy your personal data from your backup to your new Mavericks installation, and then reinstall all of your software. (This is one situation in which the more apps you’ve purchased through the Mac App Store, the better – you just launch the Mac App Store app and click a few buttons to automatically reinstall everything you’ve purchased.)

    Should you perform a clean install of Mavericks?

    OK, so you can, but should you? Prior to Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), I generally recommended a clean install. But the Snow Leopard installer and Setup/Migration Assistant were pretty good about not transferring over incompatible software, and subsequent OS X installers have got even better – in fact, Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks even automatically detect some incompatible programs and system add-ons the first time you log in, as explained in my main installation article.

    What about stuff the installer and Setup/Migration Assistant don’t catch? In my experience installing 10.9 many times over a variety of existing Mountain Lion, Lion, Snow Leopard and even Leopard installations, I’ve had little trouble that I could trace directly to incompatibilities with transferred code, and upgrading to Mavericks has gone even more smoothly than the many Mountain Lion upgrades I performed last year. (Last year, I said the same thing about upgrading to Mountain Lion compared to Lion the year before, but it’s true! The process seems to get better each year.) Based on that experience, and similar reports from my Macworld colleagues, I feel comfortable saying that as long as you’ve properly prepared your Mac before installing Mavericks, you should be just fine installing directly over Mountain Lion, Lion or Snow Leopard. (Because Mavericks, Mountain Lion and Lion have so much code in common, upgrading from Lion or Mountain Lion to Mavericks seems to entail even less risk than upgrading from Snow Leopard.)

    There are, however, a couple situations in which you might consider a clean install. The first is if you’ve done some funky partitioning of your Mac’s startup drive that prevents the Mavericks installer from creating the special Recovery HD partition. Given how useful recovery mode can be, in this situation I recommend performing a clean install (with a good backup!) just so you can erase your Mac’s drive and restore it to a standard configuration, thus allowing the installer to create the Recovery HD partition. (If you don’t want to manually re-install everything afterwards, you can use Setup or Migration Assistant to transfer your data, applications and the like from your backup to the new installation, as described above.)

    The other is if you’ve been using your Mac for a while, installing and deleting many, many apps and OS add-ons, and your hard drive has become littered with lots of unnecessary gunk and cruft: orphaned application-support and preference files, abandoned preference panes and the like. A new major version of OS X is a great opportunity to do some spring cleaning, so to speak. Of course, if you perform a clean install for this purpose, you don’t want to use Setup or Migration Assistant to bring over everything from your backup – which will bring over all that cruft to your new installation. Instead, you should manually copy your personal data and then reinstall just those apps and add-ons you actually use. (Macworld contributor Joe Kissell talks extensively about such procedures in Take Control of Upgrading to Mavericks.)


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    How to make a bootable Mavericks install drive

    Like Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) and Lion (OS X 10.7), Mavericks (OS X 10.9) doesn’t ship on a disc – it’s available only as an installer app downloadable from the Mac App Store, and that installer doesn’t require a bootable installation disc. But there are a good number of reasons you may want a bootable Mavericks installer on an external hard drive or a thumb drive (USB stick).

    For example, if you want to install Mavericks on multiple Macs, a bootable install drive can be more convenient than downloading or copying the entire installer to each computer. Also, if your Mac is experiencing problems, a bootable install drive makes a handy emergency disk. (The OS X Recovery feature, known as Lion Recovery prior to Mountain Lion’s release, is a big help here, but not all Macs get it – and if your Mac’s drive is itself having trouble, recovery mode may not even be available. Also, if you need to reinstall Mavericks, recovery mode requires you to download the entire 5.3GB installer again.) Finally, if you need to install Mavericks over Leopard – assuming you have the licence to do so – a bootable install drive makes it easier to do so.

    Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to create a bootable install drive from the Mavericks installer that you download from the Mac App Store (although, unfortunately, it is a bit more of a challenge than it was for Mountain Lion). I show you how, below.

    You may have noticed that I didn’t mention making a bootable install DVD. Though it’s possible to make one, I don’t recommend it. More and more Macs ship without a built-in optical drive, booting and installing from a DVD is very slow, and 8GB flash drives can be found for $10 or less. All this means that there’s just little reason to opt for a DVD anymore. In addition, you can easily update a USB stick or external hard drive each time an update to Mac OS X is released, as explained below; with a DVD, you have to toss the disc in the trash and start over, which is both a hassle and bad for the environment.

    Note: as explained in our main Mavericks-installation article, if you leave the Mavericks installer in its default location in the Applications folder when you install OS X 10.9, the installer will be deleted automatically after the installation finishes. So if you plan to use that installer on other Macs, or – in this case – to create a bootable drive, be sure to copy the installer to another drive, or at least move it out of the Applications folder, before you install. If you don’t, you’ll have to re-download the installer from the Mac App Store before you can create a bootable install drive.

    Get the latest version of the Mavericks installer

    Before you make a bootable install drive, you should make sure you have the latest version of the Mavericks installer. What? You didn’t even realise that there are different versions of the installer? It turns out that when you download an OS X installer from the Mac App Store, that copy of the installer contains whatever version of OS X was available at the time of download. For example, if you downloaded OS X 10.9 the day Mavericks was released, you downloaded the 10.9.0 installer. A bootable install drive you create from that installer will install OS X 10.9.0.

    However, unlike with the CD- and DVD-based Mac OS X installers of old, which could never be updated once they were created, Apple regularly updates the OS X installers you download from the Mac App Store. For example, when the inevitable 10.9.1 update is released, a few days later the Mac App Store will begin providing an updated Mavericks installer that installs 10.8.1 right off the bat. Using the latest installer is convenient, because it means that if you ever need to re-install Mavericks, you won’t have to install 10.9.0 and then immediately install the latest big update.

    Obviously, then, you want to create your bootable install drive using the latest version of the Mavericks installer. However, unlike with other Mac App Store-purchased software, the Mac App Store does not update the copy of the Mavericks installer app sitting on your hard drive. If you’ve got an older version of the installer and you want the latest version, you must delete your current copy of the installer and then re-download the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store. (If the Mac App Store won’t let you re-download the installer, quit the Mac App Store app, relaunch it and then Option+click the Purchases tab in the toolbar; that should show the Download button next to Mavericks in the Purchases list.)

    Similarly, any bootable Mavericks install drive you create will not automatically be updated to the latest installer version. If you create an install drive and later download an updated version of the Mavericks installer, updating your install drive requires you to erase it and repeat the procedure below.

    How do you know if you have the newest version of the Mavericks installer? There’s a file inside the installer that indicates which version of OS X it will install, but getting to that file and viewing it is messy. The easiest approach is to simply look at the Information box on the Mavericks page on the Mac App Store – specifically, check the date next to Updated (or Released, as the case may be immediately after the initial release). Then locate your downloaded copy of the Mavericks installer in the Finder, choose File > Get Info, and look at the date next to Modified. If the Mac App Store date is newer than the Modified date on your copy of the installer, you need to re-download the installer to get the latest version. (The version listed in the Mac App Store’s Information box is the version of OS X you’ll get if you download the latest installer.)

    A note on installer compatibility

    The initial Mac App Store version of Mavericks will boot only those Macs released prior to the Mavericks’ debut. Macs released after Mavericks’ debut will ship with a newer version of OS X 10.9 preinstalled. This means that if you make a bootable install drive right when Mavericks is released, and then later buy a new Mac, your install drive won’t boot that Mac (though it will boot any older Macs you own). However, as explained above, Apple regularly updates the OS X installer on the Mac App Store so that it installs the latest version of OS X 10.9. If you create a new bootable installer using the first major update to Mavericks after your Mac was released, that drive should be able to boot all your Macs.

    There’s a catch here, however: recent Macs are designed to let you re-install the OS using Internet Recovery. So if you buy a new Mac post-Mavericks, and you haven’t purchased Mavericks for another Mac, you can’t download the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store. For Lion, I explained how to create a bootable install drive for newer Macs. That procedure also worked for Mountain Lion. Once Apple starts shipping Macs with a Mavericks version of Internet Recovery, I’ll publish details on performing the same task for Mavericks.

    Create the Mavericks install drive

    There are a couple ways you can create a bootable OS X install drive: using OS X’s own Disk Utility, or using the third-party utility Lion DiskMaker, which, despite its name, also works under Mavericks. (For OS X 10.7 and 10.8, you also had the option of using the third-party utility Carbon Copy Cloner. However, because of changes in Mavericks, the developer of Carbon Copy Cloner has removed this feature. I’ll update this article if Carbon Copy Cloner becomes an option again.)

    Using Lion DiskMaker is the easiest method, and it’s the one I recommend that most people try first. I say ‘first’ because in my testing, Lion DiskMaker doesn’t always succeed in making a bootable drive. The Disk Utility method explained below, on the other hand, has been completely reliable for me, though changes to the OS X installer in Mavericks makes the procedure a bit messier than it was under Mountain Lion and Lion.

    Whichever method you use, you need a drive (a hard drive, SSD, thumb drive, or USB stick) that’s big enough to hold the installer and all its data – I recommend at least an 8GB flash drive, though anything larger than roughly 5.5GB should work. That drive must also be formatted with a GUID Partition Table. Follow this tutorial to properly format the drive.

    Using Disk Utility. You’ll find Disk Utility in /Applications/Utilities. Here are the steps for using it to create your installer drive, which are a bit more involved with Mavericks than they were with Mountain Lion and Lion:

    Once you’ve purchased Mavericks, find the installer on your Mac. It’s called Install OS X and it should have been downloaded to your main Applications folder (/Applications).

    Right-click (or Control+click) the installer, and choose Show Package Contents from the resulting contextual menu.
    In the folder that appears, open Contents, then open Shared Support; you’ll see a disk image file called InstallESD.dmg.
    Double-click InstallESD.dmg in the Finder to mount its volume. That volume will appear in the Finder as OS X Install ESD.

    The file you want to get to is actually another disk image inside OS X Install ESD called BaseSystem.dmg. Unfortunately, BaseSystem.dmg is invisible, and because this is a read-only volume, you can’t make BaseSystem.dmg visible. Instead, you’ll mount it using Terminal, which makes it visible in Disk Utility. Open the Terminal app (in /Application/Utilities), and then type open /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.dmg and press Return.

    Launch Disk Utility (in /Applications/Utilities). You’ll see both InstallESD.dmg (with its mounted volume, OS X Install ESD, below it) and BaseSystem.dmg (with its mounted volume, OS X Base System, below it) in the volumes list on the left.
    Select BaseSystem.dmg (not OS X Base System) in Disk Utility’s sidebar, and then click the Restore button in the main part of the window.
    Drag the BaseSystem.dmg icon into the Source field on the right (if it isn’t already there).
    Connect to your Mac the properly formatted hard drive or flash drive you want to use for your bootable Mavericks installer.
    In Disk Utility, find this destination drive in the left-hand sidebar. You may see a couple partitions under the drive: one named EFI and another with the actual drive name. Drag the latter – the one with the drive name – into the Destination field on the right. (If the destination drive has additional partitions, just drag the partition you want to use as your bootable installer volume.)

    Warning: this step will erase the destination drive or partition, so make sure it doesn’t contain any valuable data. Click Restore, and then click Erase in the dialogue box that appears; if prompted, enter an admin-level username and password.
    Wait for the restore procedure to finish, which should take just a few minutes.

    In Disk Utility, select BaseSystem.dmg on the left (not OS X Base System) and click the Eject button in the toolbar. This unmounts the disk image named OS X Base System. (If you don’t do this, you have two mounted volumes named OS X Base System – the mounted disk image and your destination drive – which makes the next step more confusing.)

    Open the destination drive – the one you’re using for your bootable install drive, which has been renamed OS X Base System. Inside that drive, open the System folder, and then open the Installation folder. You’ll see an alias called Packages. Delete that alias.
    Open the mounted OS X Install ESD volume, and you’ll see only a folder called Packages. Drag that folder into the Installation folder on your destination drive. (You’re basically replacing the deleted Packages alias with this Packages folder.) The folder is about 4.8GB in size, so the copy will take a bit, especially if you’re copying to a slow thumb drive.
    Eject the OS X Install ESD volume.

    (Note that there is a way to perform this procedure that doesn’t require Terminal. However, it adds other steps, and it requires making all invisible files visible in the Finder. Because seeing all the Finder’s normally invisible detritus can be a bit disconcerting, I’ve opted for using Terminal in Step 5.)

    Using Lion DiskMaker. Lion DiskMaker is a nifty utility that makes it easy to create a bootable OS X install drive, and Version 3 supports the Mavericks installer. Note: at the time of publication, version 3 was still a beta (pre-release) version. It worked in my testing, but be aware that it’s not final. If this procedure doesn’t work, you can revert to using the Disk Utility approach.

    Connect to your Mac a properly formatted 8GB (or larger) drive.
    Make sure the Mavericks installer, called Install OS X, is in your main Applications folder (/Applications). If you followed my advice to move the installer out of your Applications folder, you’ll have to move it back, at least temporarily.
    Launch Lion DiskMaker.
    Click OK on the warning screen that appears.
    In the Welcome screen, click Mavericks (10.9).

    You’ll see a dialogue box alerting you that Lion DiskMaker found a copy of the installer in /Applications, and asks if you wish to use this copy. If you have multiple OS X installers (say, Mavericks and Mountain Lion), make sure the Lion DiskMaker message indicates that it’s found the Mavericks installer. If so, click Use This Copy. If not, click Use Another Copy and manually locate the Install OS X Mavericks app.

    The next dialogue box asks which kind of disk you’ll be using as your bootable install drive. If you have an 8GB thumb drive, click that button; otherwise, click Another Kind Of Disk.

    The next dialogue box presents a list of available drives. Select the one you want to use and click Choose This Disk.

    You see a warning that proceeding will erase both the selected volume and any other partition on the same disk. In other words, the drive you’ve chosen will be erased, so make sure it doesn’t contain any valuable data. Click Erase Then Create The Disk.

    The next dialogue box lets you know what you’ll be asked to provide an administrator username and password to build the install drive. Click Continue; when prompted a few seconds later, enter that username and password.

    As I mentioned in my review of an earlier version of Lion DiskMaker, there will be times in the process when it appears as if nothing’s happening, so be patient. Once the process is complete, Lion DiskMaker will display a confirmation dialogue box. Unlike with the Disk Utility approach, Lion DiskMaker helpfully names the bootable installer volume Install OS X Mavericks.

    Booting from the installer drive

    Whichever of the two processes you’ve used, you can now boot any Mavericks-compatible Mac from the resulting drive. Just connect the drive to your Mac and either (if your Mac is already booted into OS X) choose the install drive in the Startup Disk pane of System Preferences or (if your Mac is currently shut down) hold down the Option key at startup and choose the install drive when OS X’s Startup Manager appears.

    When your Mac is booted from your installer drive, you can, of course, install the OS, but you can also use any of the Mavericks installer’s special recovery and restore features – in fact, when you boot from this drive, you’ll see the same OS X Utilities screen you get when you boot into OS X Recovery (recovery mode). However, unlike with recovery mode, your bootable installer includes the entire installer.


  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Northern Michigan
    Member #
    317 times

    How to install Mavericks over Leopard

    As I explained in my guide to installing Mavericks, one of the requirements for installing OS X 10.9 is that you already have at least Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) installed. (Specifically, Mavericks requires OS X 10.6.8 or later.) The main practical reason for this requirement is that Mavericks is available only via the Mac App Store, and the Mac App Store debuted in Mac OS X 10.6 – in other words, you need Snow Leopard or later just to be able to purchase and download Mountain Lion.

    But once you’ve got your copy of Mavericks, can you install it onto a Mac or an external drive containing Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5)?

    The licence agreement

    The software licence you agree to when you install Mavericks states that you can “download, install, use and run for personal, non-commercial use, one (1) copy of [the OS] directly on each Apple-branded computer running OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Lion or OS X Snow Leopard… that you own or control”. In other words, if your Mac shipped with Mountain Lion, Lion or Snow Leopard, you can install Mavericks. If your Mac shipped with Leopard or Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4), but you later purchased and installed Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion, you can install Mavericks. If your Mac doesn’t at least have Snow Leopard installed, you can’t install Mavericks.

    That seems pretty clear. But what if, for example, you’ve got a family-pack licence for Snow Leopard, and you’ve got a Mac that shipped with Leopard, but that’s never been upgraded to Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion? The Mavericks licence agreements say that even if that Mac is compatible, you can’t upgrade to 10.9 until you first install at least Snow Leopard.

    This is just one scenario – I can think of a number of situations in which you might have Leopard on a Mac or an external drive, along with a valid licence for Snow Leopard, and you’d rather not take the interim step of installing Snow Leopard just to upgrade to Mavericks. Having performed this two-step upgrade many times while researching our various Mavericks-installation articles (and the past two years while writing our upgrade guides for Lion and Mountain Lion), I can tell you that it’s a real hassle.

    The practical question

    But lets take a step back. While the letter of the law says that you need to install at least Snow Leopard before installing Mavericks, the spirit of the law seems to be that a particular Leopard-equipped Mac just needs a licence for Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion before you can upgrade it. In other words, in our view, you should be well within your rights to install Mavericks on any of your computers for which you have a valid, current Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain licence – even if you don’t actually install Snow Leopard first.

    So then the question becomes whether there are any technical reasons you can’t install Mavericks over Leopard.

    The Mavericks installer refuses to install onto a drive running Leopard (OS X 10.5).

    In my testing with many Macs, the Mavericks installer, like the Mountain Lion and Lion installers before it, refuses to install onto a drive containing Leopard; in fact, it refuses to install on any drive running a version of Mac OS X below 10.6.8, just as its official system requirements claim. The Mavericks installer will, however, install onto a blank drive, so Mavericks clearly doesn’t need any of Snow Leopard’s files or settings.

    You may be thinking, ‘If it will install onto a blank drive, I’ll just copy the installer to my Leopard-equipped Mac, connect an empty drive, install the new OS there and then use Setup/Migration Assistant to move my files over.’ Alas, while the Mavericks installer will let you install the OS onto a blank drive, the installer itself must be run from within Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion or Mavericks.

    So how can you install Mountain Lion over Leopard? There are three ways: the official way, the brute-force method and the quick-but-techie way. Whichever method you choose, you should – as with any OS installation – be sure to have an up-to-date, tested backup of your drive before you begin.

    Note that there are actually two Mavericks-compatible Macs – the mid 2007 iMac and the mid/late 2007 MacBook Pro – that shipped with Tiger [Mac OS X 10.4]. If you’ve got one of these Macs, still running Tiger, and you’re determined to upgrade it to Mavericks, the first two methods below (‘The official way’ and ‘The brute-force method’) will work; the third method (‘The quick-but-techie way’) will not.

    The official way

    As I explained above, Apple’s official policy is that if you want to install Mavericks over Leopard – assuming, of course, the Mac in question meets the system requirements – you must first install Snow Leopard, purchasing it for $20.99 if necessary, and then install Mavericks. This approach works fine, it’s fairly easy to do (if a bit time-consuming) and it gets the Apple seal of approval.

    The brute-force method

    What if you don’t want to install Snow Leopard first, or if you don’t have your Snow Leopard disc handy? I’m not being coy here– perhaps you’ve misplaced the disc, or maybe you’re on the road and you’ve got your Mac’s original (Leopard) disc with you as an emergency boot disc, but you don’t have your Snow Leopard upgrade disc.

    As I mentioned above, the Mavericks installer will let you install onto a bare drive as long as the installer itself is run under Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion or Mavericks. This means that as long as you have a good backup; a 6GB-or-larger thumb drive or external drive; and either an already-downloaded copy of the Mavericks installer or access to a Mac running Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion or Mavericks, you can perform a bit of installer razzle-dazzle.

    Specifically, the procedure involves erasing your Mac’s drive, installing Mavericks onto it, and then importing all your data from your backup. (If this sounds a lot like a clean install, that’s because it’s essentially the same process.) Here are the steps to take:

    Make sure you have an up-to-date backup – either a Time Machine backup or a clone backup using a utility such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner – of your Leopard Mac’s drive. (For this purpose, I recommend a clone.) Be sure to test this backup to verify that it has your latest data. In the case of a Time Machine backup, try restoring some important data from the backup; in the case of a clone backup, boot from the clone to make sure it boots and that it contains all your data.

    Use the computer running Snow Leopard or later to download the Mountain Lion installer from the Mac App Store. (If you’ve already got your copy of the Mavericks installer, skip this step.)
    Create a bootable install drive using the instructions for creating a bootable Mavericks install drive.
    Boot your Leopard Mac from that new install drive. When you do so, you see the initial Install OS X screen.
    From the Utilities menu at the top of the screen, choose Disk Utility.
    Use Disk Utility to erase your Leopard Mac’s internal drive. To do so, select that drive on the left, click Erase on the right, choose Mac OS X Extended (Journalled) from the Format pop-up menu, and click Erase. Warning: this step erases all the data on your Mac’s drive, which is why you needed that backup!
    When the erase procedure is finished, quit Disk Utility to get back to the Install OS X screen.
    Click Continue to install Mavericks on your Mac’s internal drive.

    After your Mac restarts, installation finishes, and you proceed through the setup process, watch for the Transfer Information To This Mac screen. You’ll choose either the option to transfer data from a Time Machine backup or to transfer data from another startup drive (such as a bootable clone backup), depending your backup type. This step transfers all your files from your backup to your new installation of Mavericks.

    When the transfer process is finished, you’ll be able to log in to Mavericks with all your accounts and data intact.

    The quick-but-techie way

    If you’re comfortable diving into the OS and editing a .plist file, this is the fastest way to install Mavericks over Leopard, although, as with the previous method, you’ll need to be able to boot from a Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, or Mavericks drive to actually run the installer.

    As I mentioned above, the Mavericks installer refuses to install over Leopard Mac. But how does the installer know your drive contains Leopard, and not Snow Leopard or later? It turns out that the installer simply checks a particular file – /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemVersion.plist – on the destination disk to check the version of OS X currently installed on that disk.

    Which means that if your Mac is running Leopard, and you’re feeling adventurous, you can edit the SystemVersion.plist file so that it claims you’re running, say, 10.6.8. The Mavericks installer – which will still need to be run on a Mac running Snow Leopard or later – will then install over Leopard without the slightest complaint. Here’s how to do that:

    On your Leopard-equipped Mac (or, if you’re trying to update an external hard drive – including a Mac in Target Disk Mode – that has Leopard installed, on that drive), navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices.

    Using a text editor that lets you enter an admin-user name and password to edit system-level files – such as the non-Mac App Store version of TextWrangler – open the file called SystemVersion.plist.
    Locate the ProductVersion key (not the ProductUserVisibleVersion key). Just below that is a string of numbers indicating the OS version; for example, on a Mac running OS X 10.5.8, it will read 10.5.8.
    Change that number to 10.6.8, save the file (providing your admin-level username and password when prompted).

    If you modified an external drive, and the Mac you’re working on is already booted into Snow Leopard or later, you can launch the Mavericks installer immediately. If you modified your Mac’s startup drive, you’ll need to boot your Mac from a drive running Snow Leopard or later that also contains the OS X installer. (If you’ve created a bootable Mavericks install drive, just boot your Mac from that, and when the Install OS X screen appears, continue until you can choose your Leopard drive as the install destination.) Another approach would be to boot your Leopard Mac from an external drive containing Snow Leopard or later, and then run the installer from there. Yet another option, if you’ve got two Macs with FireWire or Thunderbolt, is to boot the Leopard Mac into Target Disk Mode and connect it to your Snow Leopard or later Mac, and then run the installer.

    If you aren’t using a bootable Mavericks installer (in other words, if you’re booted from a standard drive running Snow Leopard or later), one additional tip: as explained in my main article on installing Mavericks, when you get to the installer screen showing your internal drive, you need to click the Show All Disks button to show your Leopard drive, and then select that drive as the install destination.

    Whichever approach you take, when you’re done, you’ll have Mavericks on your previously Leopard Mac.


  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Northern Michigan
    Member #
    317 times

    Get It Done – Fix Stalled Mavericks Downloads In Launchpad

    If you’re trying to download the free OS X Mavericks upgrade via the Mac App Store and it’s getting stuck, you’re not alone. As you can see int he image above, some folks are seeing a paused download when trying to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest Mac operating system.

    There’s two things you can do. First, click on Launchpad in your Dock, or hit the keyboard shortcut that launches it (my Macbook Air uses F4).

    Then, try clicking on the downloading Mavericks. This may restart a paused download.

    If that doesn’t work, click and hold on the Maverick’s download icon. All the icons in the Launchpad should start the iOS-style wiggle. Click on the X in the upper left of the icon to delete it from Launchpad. Then head back into the Mac App Store and download it again with your iTunes ID.

    These should help you get that upgrade download back on track. Good luck!



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