Reinstalling Mountain Lion

Upgrading from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion has proven to be a lousy experience. The computer was much slower and the spinning wheel icon kept coming up. Endless frustration.

Before giving up on Mountain Lion, I decided to give it another chance by doing a fresh install. As with all fresh installs, start by backing up your stuff. I simply opened Finder and copied everything in each user’s Home folder over.

OS X has something called OS X recovery which allows recovery without any installation media. To access this, restart the Mac and hold down cmd + R until it boots into OS X utilities. From there, it is possible to erase the disk and select the option to install Mountain Lion.

The utility will ask for the Apple ID and password used to buy Mountain Lion, then proceed to download the whole thing before installing it. Just let it sit there and finish the whole process. It’s quite painless.

After Mountain Lion installed I copied the data back and reinstalled applications from their install discs. There was a bit of a problem with iPhoto at first when it refused to open the backed up libraries. It complained that the library was created with a newer version of iPhoto. Doing a software update solved the problem.

However, some old emails were lost. the ~/Library folder is hidden in Mountain Lion and thus was never copied when I first backed up the data. Mac OS stores mail somewhere in the Library folder in the user’s home directory. Oh well the perils of hiding “complicated” things from the user.


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