I recently purchased a new Macbook Air (2012) and it came with Mountain Lion pre-installed. I've noticed that Mountain Lion does not show up as 'Purchased' in the App Store and indeed when I search for the app, the store offers to sell it to me. Is this a bug or by design?

  • Was the Apple ID you used to register the device the same as the one you use on the store?
    – duci9y
    Aug 25, 2012 at 14:58
  • @DeepanshuUtkarsh Yes
    – jpoh
    Aug 25, 2012 at 15:57
  • I just checked and it’s the same with me. Probably it’s intentional, as pointed out by CanuckSkier.
    – duci9y
    Aug 25, 2012 at 16:11
  • Also, if you are running the App Store and on any tab except purchases one, and then hold the option key while selecting purchases - you might see Mountain Lion as downloadable. Sometimes the store will "hide" purchases like OS that are already "installed" at a same or newer version.
    – bmike
    Aug 27, 2012 at 2:44
  • Can you technically just use another apple ID who may have previously updated to mountain lion and have proof of it in their ID?
    – user44765
    Mar 10, 2013 at 8:45

5 Answers 5


If Mountain Lion is pre-installed on your Mac, you won't normally get a redemption code to purchase the "upgrade" but that serial number will be checked if you have to do a bare install, and the installer will download because the Mac deserves to get Mountain Lion internet recovery install on a bare drive.

Basically, the license is tied with the hardware, not the Apple ID. However, some Macs purchased during the window surrounding the release can often take advantage of the Up To Date program which according to the web page is intended for Machines that shipped with Lion and not Mountain Lion.

The upgrade lets you install the software on all of your personal Macs whereas the machine license generally lets you just install it on the Mac that shipped with the OS.


It's actually hidden. If you open the app store and go to the "Store" menu and select "View My Account", it will tell you that you have "Hidden Purchases". Unhide and download.


I've been on the phone with Apple Support for almost two hours explaining this and why I would want an installer for the OS my computer shipped with. I was finally sent to the App Store support who then sent me back to Apple Support. Short answer is that nobody knows how to do it at Apple Support or the App Store.

Here's what I did. I attached a USB drive large enough for the Mountain Lion installer (8GB) to my 2012 MacBook Air that shipped with Mountain Lion. Then I booted up in Recovery mode (the only way we can download the OS that shipped with our books), told it to do a fresh install on my USB drive (you'll need an internet connection) then I unplugged the USB drive after it rebooted to install the OS. The result is the OS installer image in a folder called "Mac OS Install Data". I then copied that image to my book's drive, then used Disk Utility to burn the image to the USB drive. Now I have a USB bootable drive for installing Mountain Lion.

What a chore!

On a related note this is how I save app installers from the App Store:

Copy and paste this into the Terminal app while you're downloading an app:

sudo find /var/folders -mmin -1 -size +1024 -type f -exec ls -lAdh {} \;

I leave it to the UNIX gurus to come up with a better "find" line. You'll have to enter your password in order to search the directory where the file is being downloaded to.

This command searches in "/var/folders" and all of its subfolders for a file that's been updated in the last minute and is larger than 1MB (fairly safe assumptions for a downloading installer). Somewhere inside "/var/folders" is where the installer is downloaded.

Copy the folder from the Terminal window (don't copy the last bit...the [garble].pkg part. Your string should end in '/'.

Then in the Finder and press command-shift-g. Paste the folder string copied from Terminal and click "Go". You're going to want to copy that [garble].pkg file out of there (drag it to the Desktop. Keep a watch in the App Store as you'll need to start the copy AFTER the installer has downloaded and BEFORE it has finished installing!

What a chore!


I'm fairly certain this is by design. If it were "purchased", then you could download Mountain Lion on any other Mac that has your App Store credentials.

  • That sort of makes sense, but according to apple.stackexchange.com/questions/58303/… if I had bought my machine with Lion installed I would be able to get ML via the App Store. Somewhat inconsistent...
    – jpoh
    Aug 25, 2012 at 16:00

If your computer shipped with 10.8 Mountain Lion you should DEFINITELY be able to see it as installed in the Mac App Store.

I would double check to make sure that you are actually running 10.8 Mountain Lion (click on the Apple in the top left hand corner of your screen, click on 'about this mac' and you should see a window that either says 'Version 10.7' or 'Version 10.8').

When I was selling Macs for a living we would sell Macs that had the prior operating system on them even though the new operating system was out. In that circumstance you are expected to go to: http://www.apple.com/osx/uptodate/ to claim your free upgrade. I would do so quickly since you only have 30 days from date of purchase.

If you have 10.8 Mountain Lion attached to an Apple ID you can install it on "any Macs you own or control for personal use." http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4461

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