Apple is all about anticipation and Mac OS X Yosemite (yo-sem-i-tee) is a perfect example of waiting for the next big thing. Now, you can either wait until the fall to upgrade like the rest of the world, or you can get the early release months ahead of schedule.
Which camp would you rather be in?
Today, I’m going to show you how to get Yosemite for free. I’m also going to walk you through safely installing it on your Mac in a way that won’t break your existing Mac OS X installation.
Let’s do this.
Yesterday, Apple opened up the beta version of their new OS to the first million users. If you want to be part of the lucky few to test it before everyone else, jump on your Mac and sign-in to the Beta program using your Apple ID. You’ll receive a redemption code that will allow you to download the OS directly from the App Store.
The package is a little over 5gigs and yesterday the server was pretty busy but keep trying the download and you’ll eventually get through.
What’s the deal with Yosemite?
The first thing that comes into my mind when I hear Yosemite isn’t the monolithic rock that pierces the sky in California. That’s what most people probably envision – instead I see Yosemite Sam in a bellicose stance ready to battle!
But seriously – what’s the deal with Mac OS X 10.10?
In case you don’t know what Yosemite brings to the table I figured I quickly list the top 3 improvements: Alternately, you can watch the 2 hour WWDC 2014 keynote on Youtube but not everyone has the time for that. It might be more efficient to just start the video at 11:00 and watch until 44:00. (that’s the Yosemite segment)
Alright so let’s fire off the features:
1. A new level of beauty
The entire look and feel of the OS X line has been repainted, revived and re-imagined. Not only has the entire look and feel undergone a metamorphosis but also the designed has been flattened giving it modern look consonant with iOS 7 and 8. In addition, certain screen elements are no longer opaque. For example diaphanous scroll bars abound and various windows have a frosted glass appearance.
I once heard my co-worker say:
Safari: the browser to download other browsers
I laughed at the pithy truth of his statement and told him to tweet it to his followers.
But this could all change with the new Safari in Yosemite.
First of all, the toolbar has an extremely slim profile. Apple somehow managed to move all the navigation elements, including the search bar, into a single row. This gives you more screen space to browse the interwebs. Two other notable improvements include:
- Tab view which lets you step back and see all your tabs at a glance.
- The web address bar doubles as a Spotlight search tool. So you can search the web or your computer right from the browser.
That’s a perfect segway into Spotlight itself.
If you don’t already use Spotlight in Mavericks that will almost certainly change in Yosemite. Command + Space now conjures up Spotlight from the middle of the screen. And search has never been easier because you have complete power to search everything.
You can use Spotlight whenever you need to find a file, search the internet, iTunes, the App Store, find nearby restaurants, get directions and more. It’s pretty amazing.
Okay, now that I’ve whet your appetite to check out Yosemite let me show you the smart way to install it on your Mac without frying it.
Preparing for Yosemite
The easiest way to test Yosemite is to create a separate partition on your Mac and then install Yosemite there. Then you can boot to Yosemite or Mavericks by simply holding down the Option Key on startup.
Alright we’re about to kick this show off but first you should really make sure your backup everything on your system. After all, this is beta software and therefore may yield some unexpected results. The easiest way to back things up is to use Time Machine.
Just so you know I’m using Mavericks for this quick tutorial
Press Command + Space and type:
You’ll probably see two Macintosh HD icons in the left pane.
The first Macintosh HD is the logical volume group. Think of it like the container for all your partitions. And the sub group of the same name is your primary logical partition. You can see I currently have one that’s about 500GB in size in the bottom right corner next to the Capacity label.
Go ahead and click the Macintosh HD logical volume group, the first Macintosh icon in the left pane list, and choose the Partition tab in the right pane. We’re going to set some options before we actually partition the hard drive.
Click the plus sign button in the lower left corner of the screen to setup a new Partition.
Apple says you only need 8GB of storage for Yosemite; however, I recommend bumping that up to at least 100gigs if you have the space. My rationale is that you will undoubtedly install a bunch of apps as you explore the OS so you want to have the space available.
I’m setting mine to about 100 GBs. Just position your mouse over the horizontal divider in the partition layout view and drag the level up or down while watching the Size values update in the right box.
I also suggest changing the Partition Name from the default name, Macintosh HD 2, to Yosemite HD. This will make it super easy to identify it later when we install Yosemite.
That’s it for configuration.
When you click the Apply button in the bottom right corner of the screen you’ll see a message leap on the screen requesting confirmation to divide the disk.
Always make sure you have your data backed up before you create partitions or install beta software. I’m assuming you’ve taken care of that so click Partition.
When I set this up on my Mac Mini it didn’t break anything but you never know – that’s why backups are so critical.
The Mac starts partitioning the disk. It took a mere 60 seconds for the partitioning to finish for me.
But then again… this isn’t a glacial process.
The real wait comes after installing Yosemite. It took me about half an hour before I could actually log in and play with the OS.
But we’ll get to that later.
When the partitioning process finishes, press F4 to open Launchpad so you can click the shimmering Install OS X Yosemite Beta icon.
Click Continue and read the terms of the software license (no seriously give it a quick read).
Yes it’s replete with legalese but you should always have some idea what you’re agreeing to before you actually agree.
Now you’ll see one disk: your primary Macintosh HD disk but we want to install it on Yosemite HD so click Show all disks…
Pick Yosemite HD and away we go!
This phase of the installation took about 15 minutes to complete.
When you hit the finish line the Mac will automatically reboot itself into Yosemite.
It took about 30 minutes total from reboot to desktop before I could begin using Yosemite. But it’s worth the wait!
Just don’t forget to connect to your wireless network. I tried to use Spotlight and was getting annoyed that it wasn’t finding anything – then I realized I hadn’t connected to my wireless network!
The Bottom Line
Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite is a major leap forward for Apple. I’m going to spend the next weeks exploring the features and absorbing everything Yosemite has to offer.
Please share your installation experience in the comments below. I encountered a few snags during my install so I think I can help. Most of the problems I hit were stupid things that were 100% my fault – I was just being impatient.