Upgrade from Leopard to Mountain Lion (yes, you need Snow Leopard first)

Apple stuff just works when you’re in the 99%. But there’s a whopping big 1% of us who aren’t, and then it’s a pain in the anus. For me, being the 1% means I’m way behind the times on my MacBook – so much behind that I can’t actually upgrade without jumping through the hoops you only expect from Ubuntu or Paypal customer service.

But I’ve noted all the things, so if you or future me runs into this problem somewhere down the track, we have an easier time of fixing it. Here’s how to upgrade a MacBook from OSX 10.5 to 10.8 (going from Leopard to Mountain Lion).

OS updates now happen via the App Store – convenient if you have it. If you’re still on Leopard, you do not have it. The App Store was introduced when Snow Leopard (10.6) came out in 2008. You may have tried to update your iTunes at some point only to be told you couldn’t – that’s because you needed to be running Snow Leopard.

So to get with the times, you need to go back in time 4 years and get Snow Leopard. In a dick move by Apple, you can’t just download and install it. You need to buy an installer disc. Yeah, buy. Yeah, a four year old operating system. Luckily, upgrading doesn’t require a serial number – it remembers the one you already have – which means you can legally get your ass to Snow Leopard so long as you can get your hands on a disc. Try Mac user friends, IT staff or libraries.

Install it and run your updates. Update iTunes manually via the Apple site if you don’t see an App Store.

The Apple site lists hardware that will run Mountain Lion, but your hardware profile won’t match what they say on the site. BAO BAO. Easy mode: note your Model Identifier and look it up on EveryMac.com to cross reference the release date.

OMFG, right? Why isn’t this spelled out somewhere. Well, I hope this walkthrough makes this easier for you than it was for me.

Whether you run Mountain Lion or make do with Lion, any and all upgrading from Snow Leopard will happen via the App Store.

It’s September 2012. Mountain Lion cost me AUD$21.