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How to Perform a Clean Install of OS X Mountain Lion on a Startup Drive

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OS X Mountain Lion - Finishing the Clean Install Process on a Startup Drive
OS X Mountain Lion - Finishing the Clean Install Process on a Startup Drive

You can choose to transfer user data, applications, and other information from another Mac, PC, or hard drive.

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Finishing a clean install of OS X Mountain Lion on a startup drive is a fairly simple process. Following the onscreen prompts provided by the installer will get you through most of it. But there are a few tricky spots ahead of us.

If you've completed all of the steps on page 2 of this guide, then you're ready to tackle the last part of the installation, and get on with using your new OS.

  1. After your Mac reboots, a progress bar will display the time remaining in the installation. This will vary, depending on the Mac, but it should be relatively short, less than 30 minutes in most cases. When the progress bar hits zero, your Mac will automatically restart.

  2. After restarting, your Mac will start the system setup process, including creating an administrator account, creating an iCloud account (if you want one), and setting up the Find My Mac service (if you choose to use it).

  3. The Welcome screen will display. Select your country from the list, and click Continue.

  4. Select your keyboard layout from the list, and click Continue.

  5. You can choose to transfer user data, applications, and other information from another Mac, PC, or hard drive; you can also choose not to transfer data now. I recommend selecting the Not Now option. You can always transfer data later using the Migration Assistant included with the OS. This lets you ensure that your Mac is up and running with Mountain Lion without any issues before you spend the long time it takes to transfer data. Make your selection and click Continue.

  6. You can enable location services, if you wish. This feature allows your apps to figure out your approximate location and then use that data for various purposes, ranging from mapping to advertising. Safari, Reminders, Twitter, Time Zone, and Find My Mac are just a few of the apps that can use location services. You can enable location services at any time, so you don't have to decide now. Make your selection, and click Continue.

  7. The installer will ask for your Apple ID. You can skip this step if you wish, but if you supply the information now, the installer will pre-configure iTunes, the Mac App Store, and iCloud. It will also pull account information you have provided in the past to make the registration process easier. Make your selection, and click Skip or Continue.

  8. The terms and conditions for various services included with OS X Mountain Lion will display. These include the OS X license agreement, iCloud terms, Game Center terms, and Apple's privacy policy. Read through the information, and click Agree.

  9. You know the drill; click Agree again.

  10. You can allow the installer to set up iCloud on your Mac. You can also do this yourself later, but if you plan to use iCloud, I recommend letting the installer take care of the setup process. Make your selection, and click Continue.

  11. If you chose to have the installer set up iCloud, your contacts, calendars, reminders, and bookmarks will be uploaded to and stored in iCloud. Click Continue.

  12. You can set up Find My Mac, a service that can use location services to determine where your Mac is if you've misplaced it or it's been stolen. With Find My Mac, you can also remotely lock your Mac or erase its drive, which is handy for lost or stolen Macs. Make your selection, and click Continue.

  13. If you chose to set up Find My Mac, you'll be asked if it's okay for Find My Mac to display your location when you attempt to locate your Mac. Click Allow.

  14. Create Your Administrator Account

  15. The next step is to create your administrator account. Enter your full name. The account name defaults to your fullname, with all of the spaces and special characters removed. The account name is also all lowercase letters. I recommend accepting the default account name, but you can create your own account name, if you prefer. Remember: no spaces, no special characters, and all lowercase letters. You also need to enter a password; don't leave the password fields blank.

  16. You can choose to allow your Apple ID to reset the administrator account password. I don't generally recommend this, but if you occasionally forget important passwords, this may be a good option for you.

  17. You can also choose whether or not a password is required to log in to your Mac.

  18. Make your selections, and click Continue.

  19. The Time Zone map will appear. Select your location by clicking on the map. You can refine your location by clicking the drop-down chevron at the end of the Closest City field. Make your selections, and click Continue.

  20. Registration

  21. Registration is optional; click the Skip button, if you wish. Otherwise, click the Continue button to send your registration information to Apple.

  22. A Thank You screen will display. All you need to do now is click the Start Using Your Mac button.

The Desktop will appear. It's almost time to start exploring your new OS. But first, a little housekeeping.

Update OS X Mountain Lion

You'll probably be tempted to immediately start checking out Mountain Lion, but before you do, it's a good idea to check for software updates first.

Select "Software Update" from the Apple menu, and then follow the instructions for any updates listed. Once you install any available updates, you're ready to go.

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