Can I upgrade to Lion from 10.5.8 without upgrading to 10.6.6 first?, or with a package deal?

And can I upgrade just downloading? -- Without having to have the discs mailed to me?

  • Do you care about ANY software working or just the OS? iLife might be too old, etc...
    – bmike
    Jul 26 '11 at 14:32

At the moment it is not possible to upgrade to Lion without first installing the App Store, and Apple hasn't announced any plan to make that available on versions older than Snow Leopard.

From Apple's press release announcing Lion's availability:

Users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school can download Lion at Apple retail stores and later this August, Lion will be made available on a USB thumb drive through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com) for $69 (US).

They haven't confirmed that this will work for upgrading for older versions, but given the price many people are assuming that this is the case.

  • Thanks, Jeremy. So once Lion on a USB stick is available, I can go from 10.5.8 to Lion without upgrading to Snow Leopard first? Also, where would I keep an eye out to see when Lion on a USB becomes available?
    – Richard
    Jul 26 '11 at 9:43
  • @Richard I have clairified my post.
    – Jeremy
    Jul 26 '11 at 14:06
  • It's clear that Apple has either told the press or otherwise indicated that a stand alone Lion installer will be sold. If your hardware meets the requrements, you likely could do an erase / install without first upgrading to 10.6. It's possible Apple could make it so you show the installer a Snow Leopard media - i hope not, but it's certainly something that could be done. Until something is really for sale - I doubt we'll know how it will work, although many (myself included) have some theories ;-)
    – bmike
    Jul 26 '11 at 14:23

You most certainly can upgrade, but it is a three (maybe two) step upgrade.

  1. Upgrade to 10.6 (this is a paid upgrade and you need Snow Leopard media - it is not sold or delivered as a download)
  2. Run free patches to a minimum of 10.6.6 (unless your installer is very new)
  3. Use the App Store to purchase and download Lion upgrade.

You won't be able to download everything, and it is not one step. As always, look well at all the add on software - much from Leopard era is PPC /rosetta or just tool old to run on two major upgrades. Also look well into hardware requirements. Not fun to spend the money to have Lion tell you your hardware is not compatible. So do:

  1. check your hardware for Lion compatibility
  2. check your software for Lion compatibility
  3. check your backup - perhaps checking it twice ;-)

Good luck if you jump to Lion


As others have noted, it's necessary to have Snow Leopard first to perform the upgrade. Technically it's possible to do the upgrade without snow Leopard installed on computer which you want to upgrade. If you have access to another Mac which is running Snow Leopard, you can burn an install DVD, once you've purchased Lion, and then do a fresh install on the Leopard machine. (I can confirm that this works - you may need to reformat the drive. This should be fine if you use time machine to do a backup first.) CNet has a list of things to do before you upgrade.


You can either wait until Apple releases Lion on a USB Drive (announced for August) or find someone who has 10.6.6 and the App Store, download Lion and burn a DVD.

I do not know if the DVD or USB Drive can be used to upgrade 10.5 since I used it for a fresh install.


You can't upgrade from 10.5 I suggest you take a backup on an external drive, partition your HD, download lion, install lion on the partition you created & when you boot from lion for the first time (mac restart automatically after installation) & the option to migrate your data comes up choose the option that migrates your files from a time machine backup.

PS If it fails for some reason you still have all your files in your backup & in the 10.5 partition on your HD so there is no real risk here. FYI you can dual boot by holding down the option (alt) key during startup & then choose from which partition to boot from. Also if you enable file sharing on 10.5 you can access all your files while booted in Lion

  • Thanks Samantha. You mention downloading Lion -- so I can do this with 10.5.8 ?
    – Richard
    Jul 26 '11 at 9:41
  • If you have App Store installed.... Jul 26 '11 at 9:43
  • I checked (I have the last 3 OS X on my HD lol) the installer can't be run on 10.5 since it doesn't support the architecture you best chance is to make a partition & then have someone make you a bootable DVD. Try taking a look at thins article from MacWorld macworld.com/article/161069/2011/07/… Jul 26 '11 at 9:52

Yes you can! It is just 1 more step (see #4) from 10.5 to lion OS X

  1. Download from Appstore the lion os x

  2. make a bootable dvd or usb or partition your internal drive

  3. reboot with alt key and chose your source with burned .dmg on it

  4. choose: disk utility and erase your internal drive completely

  5. then start installation again and choose this new erased drive as a destination to recovery lion to it.

it works!

  • 1
    One cannot access the App store from 10.5.8.
    – Daniel
    Sep 22 '12 at 22:11

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