Get Ready for Snow Leopard

A Little House Cleaning Never Hurt Anyone

Copies of Snow Leopard displayed at the Apple store on Michigan Avenue August 28, 2009.
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Getting ready for Snow Leopard involves performing a few basic tasks, including cleaning up your Mac, backing up your files, and verifying that your startup drive is ready for a new OS.

Of course, there is another way to install a new OS, an often-used little something called The PTIDIAHFTB Method (put the install disk in and hope for the best). I must admit, I’ve used that method a time or two myself, but after a few less-than-pleasant experiences with it, I now always perform three basic housekeeping chores first.

Clean Up

No, I don’t mean washing down your Mac and buffing it dry, though it never hurts to keep your Mac looking nice. What I do mean is taking the opportunity to go through your Home folder, as well as your Applications folder, and get rid of any items you don’t really need or haven’t used in years. You can delete them or, if you wish, move them to another hard drive or perhaps to a CD or DVD for archival storage.

The reason we are doing this is to free up disk space on the startup drive, so we can quickly create a bootable clone and/or backup of our data before we install Snow Leopard.

Back Up: Create a Clone or a Backup

Whenever you upgrade to a new OS, it’s a very good idea to make sure your Mac is backed up first. You can use a backup application, such as Time Machine , to perform the backup, or you can use a cloning utility to make an exact bootable copy of your startup drive. Or you can be really insecure like me and do both.

I use Time Machine for my regular backups. Before I install any new OS, I use the ‘Backup Now’ command, located in the Time Machine menu on the menu bar. If you don’t see the Time Machine icon and menu in your menu bar, open System Preferences by clicking the ‘System Preferences’ icon in the Dock. Click the ‘Time Machine’ icon in the ‘System’ section, put a check mark next to the ‘Show Time Machine status in menu bar’ option, and close the ‘Time Machine’ preferences pane.

I also like to create a bootable clone of my startup drive. This lets me quickly return my Mac to the exact condition it was in before I updated the OS. This is a great way to recover your Mac in case anything goes wrong. It also gives you a bootable OS that contains a known good system you can use to run any application that may end up not working with the new OS.

My three choices for creating a bootable clone of a startup drive are:

Use Disk Utility’s ‘First Aid’ Tool to Repair Disk Permissions

Before you install Snow Leopard, make sure the drive you’ll be installing it on is in good condition. Apple’s Disk Utility can take care of both verifying and repairing basic hard drive issues, and repairing file permissions. You can find instructions for running these tests in the ‘Using Disk Utility to Repair Hard Drives and Disk Permissions’ article.

Disable the Guest Account

If you’re using the Guest account feature, you will need to disable this service to ensure a smooth transition to Snow Leopard. Don’t worry; if you need Guest account capabilities later, you can re-enable the service after you have successfully upgraded to Snow Leopard.

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking the ‘System Preferences’ icon in the Dock, or selecting ‘System Preferences’ from the Apple menu.
  1. Click the ‘Accounts’ icon in the System Preferences window.
  2. Click the lock icon in the bottom left corner of the Accounts window.
  3. Supply your admin password and click ‘OK.’
  4. Select the Guest Account in the left-hand pane of the Accounts window.
  5. Remove the check mark (if present) next to ‘Allow guests to log into this computer.’
  6. Click the lock to prevent further changes.
  7. Close System Preferences.

Ready to Install Snow Leopard

Now that you have performed the three basic housecleaning tasks you’re ready to install the latest version of the Mac OS. All you need is the Snow Leopard Install DVD, a little bit of time, and a Mac that is capable of running Snow Leopard.

Published: 8/24/2009

Updated: 2/11/2015