Upgrading Multiple Macs to Lion

Like many Mac users I am in the process of upgrading my Macs to Lion today. With 8 Macs in our house downloading 3.7GBs of installer seems like a huge waste of bandwidth. You only need to purchase the upgrade once for all of the machines you own or control so here's a technique that may help you only download Lion just once:

1) Purchase Lion on one of your Snow Leopard Macs
The download is about 3.76GB so depending on your connection speed it may take a while. You'll need to be current with Software Update if you aren't already.

2) Once the download is complete you will be presented with this screen:
3) Do not click Continue! Press Command-Q (or quit from the menu) instead

4) Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder
You should see the installer with the Lion icon titled "Install Mac OS X Lion". Copy that 3.76GB file to portable media device (like a Flash drive or external hard drive).

5) Copy the Installer application to the Applications folder of the Macs you want to upgrade

6) Ensure each of your Macs is running Snow Leopard and current with Software Update
I'm not sure this is completely necessary but better safe than sorry. There have been recent updates to the App Store that enabled people to purchase Lion upgrades; if you don't have those updates I'm not sure if the upgrade will work. If you are still running Leopard on a Mac it will first need to be upgraded to Snow Leopard and updates applied.

7) Backup your Mac before your upgrade
Though the Snow Leopard to Lion upgrade is pretty smooth and few people appear to be reporting problems, having a decent backup (even if it's just Time Machine being completely current) is always prudent.

8) Run the Installer on each of your Macs
The upgrade took about 35 minutes to run on my new MacBook Pro, though your mileage may vary.

I'm putting this out before I've completed the upgrade process on all of my Macs because as soon as you execute the Upgrade the installer is removed from your Mac and will need to be re-downloaded (or copied as I mention above).

If you have any other experience with upgrading multiple Macs to Lion please leave a note in the comments!


Anonymous said…
Thx a million! re-tweeted immediately!
brian said…
Unfortunately I didn't get this in time and I'll have to download again on my wife's MBP. I assume I can just sign into the App Store with my ID and download onto her computer. Will let you know later tonight.

Also took me only 35 minutes to install with a mid-2009 mbp. Macs stay viable for a long time. I like that.
Anonymous said…
You do not have to do this. Just go to the App Store. Click on the "Store Menu". Select "Purchases" and voila!
David Alison said…
@Anon: and download the entire 3.7GB again from Apple? That's what doing this saves you from. Granted, if you're on a very high speed internet connection it will go relatively quickly but if you're on a 1.3MB DSL connection, be prepared to wait a very long time.
Unknown said…
I'm curious to see if anyone will try pushing the upgrade through without having Snow Leopard. I for one didn't want SL but am now going to have to install it before upgrading to Lion.

Thanks for the tip on copying the installer. I may use that for our network deploy once we roll out this new OS.

I can't believe Apple is discontinuing any hard copies of the software. Apparently the entire world of upgradable machines are connected to the internet and have a beefy broadband connection. I personally live in Berkeley, CA and can't get more than 3MBPs where I live - which means a nice long time downloading the Lion installer.

Thanks again!
David Alison said…
@Unknown: I have that same issue - though I bought a family upgrade pack, my Mac Pro was never upgraded to Snow Leopard - it's still on Leopard.

MacWorld has a couple of solutions that you may want to consider though: How to install Lion over Leopard. Hope this helps...
brian said…
I just thought of something. If I use my Apple ID on my wife's computer to install, will she have to use my ID whenever they update Lion? Not a major deal obviously, but just got me curious.
David Alison said…
@Brian: I doubt it. That would be incredibly awkward.
Zack said…
Hi David and All,
Just wanted to point out that APple will offer Lion on a USB stick sometime in August apparently, though the download route is still preferable. All is not lost for the poorly connected.
Anonymous said…
'Install Mac OS X Lion is an application, and like all applications you can right-click and select 'show package contents'. Inside the package you'll find InstallESD.dmg. Drag this out of the package and use Disk Utility to burn a Lion install DVD, USB, or SD card. The resulting boot media is 4.2GB.

You can then use this boot media to install onto an existing harddrive, whether it has Tiger (yes I've done it), Leopard (haven't done it), and Snow Leopard (done it). Or an empty harddrive (again I done it).
Judi Sohn said…
My husband bought Lion using his Apple ID. I got it by signing in with his ID from my computer. However, I did have to verify the billing information on *his* account by entering the CVV code from his credit card.

However, I didn't physically have to be at his machine to make the copy so to me it was worth downloading it again.

@Brian, what's on the Mac App store is the installer. Once you install, updates are through Software Update as always.
Patrick said…
Very curious to know how performance compares to Snow Leopard and how the interface changes feel to a power user. I always enjoy your insights!
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
As always David it worked great. Thanks for the blog. Corrected my grammer.
BoyGENIU$ said…
I have purchased a brand new iMac with OSX Lion, but I also have a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard. Am I still able to upgrade to Lion on my MacBook Pro, free of cost?
David Alison said…
@BoyGENIU$: I believe you'll need to pay once to upgrade your older Mac.
Anonymous said…
Dear David, Dr Wolf here from Swedish Lapland, although i will click anonymous is just because I don´t know what the other options are.

Saw a string from the stone age where you nicely solved a problem with Time Machine (in progress...etc). Well since I let a Lion into my den all my Windows files (hard disk of virtual machine - running on Paralells 6) have fled. Obviously it has something with their respect for Lion or its´companions - the bugs? Now, it may be so that the one and only backupd I did contains the missing windows files... but that one says xxx xxx. in progress... Is there any chance to recover something as the backup.inprogress shows 202 Gb of content?
Is there anyone out there besides professor Alison that have a clue? Appreciatively, be good! Wolf
David Alison said…
@Dr Wolf: If that in progress file is all you have available you may be able to explore inside of it. Control-Click the file and see if there is a Show Package option; if so you can navigate through it and see if you can recover the specific files. Short of that, not sure what will work. I've had Time Machine running on my Lion based Macs without any problems.
Dan said…
Hey Dave, one question, in your first paragraph you say to Purchase Lion on one of your Snow Leopard machines. Did you mean through the App Store?

I need to upgrade 2 Macbook Pro's and of course I'm not going to sit here watching the 3.7gb download. I want to make sure that the download from the App Store finishes and shows the splash screen, allowing you to continue and DOESN'T install automatically while I'm away, thus removing the installer.

David Alison said…
@Dan: Yep, I purchased the upgrade through the App Store. Sorry that wasn't more clear.
Dan said…
No problem Dave. It probably was clear to the 99% less anal people than me. lol Thanks a lot.
Michele said…
Here is a problem I have. I hope it's not a stupid question. I bought Lion on my Macbook Pro. I want to put it on my iMac. It's running operating system 10.5 so I am unable to download the App Store on the iMac. It needs to be 10.6 or larger for me to be able to download the Mac App.

Does that make sense?

Thank you in advance for any and all help!

harrisonite said…
My father and I are both in the same household; we each have a Mac. How can one place Lion on two machines w two separate ids? We were under the impression a group pack was unavailable. Is it a matter of knowing one another's apple id and password when installing?
David Alison said…
@harrisonite: If you want to do it the Apple way, you can log in with the same Apple ID on each Mac and re-download it. The first time you'll need to purchase it; on the second Mac you'll see that it's already been purchased (after logging in w/ the same ID on iTunes) and just install it from there.

The other option of course is that you follow the directions above ;) - don't worry, it's perfectly legal. In fact, it reduces the load on Apple's servers.
Anonymous said…
Thanks. Big help. I have 3 Macs to upgrade. PSS
Eric said…
Which means i can upgrade as many mac as we have in the office? After the upgrade, will I be able to use my appstore using different username and pass? Thanks!
David Alison said…
@Eric: Yes, that's how it works. How you obtain the upgrade file and what is plugged into your App Store account are two different things. You may need to review the license agreement to ensure that's legal however; based on what I read the downloaded Lion upgrade can be used on your Mac and all the Macs you control, however I don't know if that will apply in a business setting. Better to read over and be sure.

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