Don’t Rush to Install Lion (Mac OS X 10.7)

Updated December 17th, 2015.

We all like new stuff. With Apple’s new Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) coming out tomorrow and for only $29.99 it’s oh-so-tempting to download it as soon as possible. But I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You might end up with a better operating system, but you might also end up with a printer that doesn’t print, a scanner that doesn’t scan, installers that don’t install, and programs that won’t launch.

Your best course of action is to wait. While you’re waiting, do your homework: find out whether your printer will work with 10.7, and whether your scanner will work with 10.7, and whether your programs will work with 10.7. I would guess that they might not.

Here is a partial list of software that I know you will have trouble with after installing Mac OS X Lion.

  • Microsoft Office 2004 (won’t run at all)
  • Microsoft Office 2008 (installer and auto-updater are PPC)
  • Quicken (any version other than “Quicken Essentials”)
  • FileMaker Pro 7 or earlier (won’t run at all– and later versions have issues)
  • Palm Desktop
  • Adobe Creative Suite CS2 or earlier (Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, InDesign CS2, etc.) won’t run at all
  • AppleWorks (won’t run at all)

In some cases, solutions exist but they all cost money. For example, you can upgrade to Adobe Creative Suite 5.5,* upgrade to Microsoft Office 2011* (get the Business Edition if you want Outlook), upgrade to FileMaker Pro (but don’t rush out to do that– I would not bet on the current version working on Day One). In other cases, there is no upgrade to be had– not for Quicken, not for Palm Desktop, not for AppleWorks. In those cases, you’d be looking for another program to use. You’d better think about exporting the data from those applications before you install 10.7– if you can’t launch, you can’t export.

UPDATE: you can download Microsoft Office 2011 (Home and Student Family Pack– 3 Installs, or Home and Business– 2 installs) from the Amazon Mac Software Store* via this link.* Sorry, they don’t have the single-installation versions available for download but if you need it now, you need it now.

I am sure that in time most (but not all) of the incompatibilities created by Lion will be dealt with. The key phrase is “in time.” Don’t expect everything to work right away. My advice: wait. Let someone else find out that stuff doesn’t work. Give developers time to gather bug reports and put out some updates. Make your move to Lion after that.

When you do decide to go to Lion, please make sure that you have a backup. If things go wrong it would be nice to be able to go back to 10.6.8.

UPDATE 2: the people at are compiling an extensive Lion compatibility table. See it at Notable on the list: Microsoft Office 2004 (does not work), Microsoft Office 2008 (tested, has some problems), Microsoft Office 2011 (tested, has some problems). What a great time to switch to Apple’s iWork. Here’s a link* to a good deal on it at Amazon.

Copyright 2008-2024 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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37 thoughts on “Don’t Rush to Install Lion (Mac OS X 10.7)

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  1. I found out the hard way Microsoft Office 2004 doesn't work. I haven't upgraded because it does co$t but more so they neutered the Mac version of Excel. They took out VBA. I hear it is coming back because I wasn't alone in saying this was dumbass, but now I have a lot of busted apps and for what mouse gestures I won't use?

  2. Muskie, Visual Basic is back in Office 2011. I just don't like the rest of the the Office 2011 package (see my review on the blog). You can get Office 2011 via the link above. Personally, I prefer the 2008 version, but if you need VBA, you need to use 2011 with Lion.

  3. Anonymous, thanks for the heads-up on Painter 9, and also, "you're welcome." Khall102: yes, it is time… but with Quicken, what do you update to? The basic job of Quicken hasn't changed (keep track of checking and savings and stocks, and make reports), so it would be nice to stay with a version that is doing the job (Quicken 2007). But no. Same with the Adobe Suite: if you've paid for it once, and you don't use it a lot, it's hard to enjoy paying a bunch of money just for compatibility.

  4. About Palm: you can export the addresses as vCards, which the Apple Address Book will import perfectly. The Date Book can be exported as a vCal file, which iCal can open, but in my experience the export crashes when there are a lot of items. Tab and Return format may be more successful but harder to deal with afterward. Try vCal first.

  5. in place upgrade following 10.7 download and Office for Mac 2011 just hangs, any Apple app runs fine (hmmmm) however I log off/ try to log on and the account data is corrupted beyond recovery, rebuild from the ground with TM backup, uninstall Office 2011 and no further issues – shame I actually need to use office in the environment im in – back to 10.6 it is with the 2nd TM restore of the day

  6. So far, lots of reports that Office 2011 has issues with Lion. Our options: Office 2004? No way– will not even launch (PPC app). Office 2008? Maybe, but no Visual Basic and the updater and installer are PPC, so you have to have it installed in advance of Lion. Office 2001? Iffy. Personally, I would use Pages to open Word docs (works just fine). You can save a Pages document as Microsoft Word (docx). You can get Pages from the Mac App Store for just a few buckos (I think it's $19.99). In a pinch, hold Control key and click on a Word document and "Open With… " and use Text Edit.

  7. So if i already had office 2008 downloaded and fully functioning before lion, it should work after its running on lion right?

  8. Anonymous: great question about Office 2008. Sorry to say that I don't know yet. All I can tell for sure is that you have a chance at it, since the applications are Intel-native. I will put Lion on a disk in the next day or two and let you know first hand.

  9. You can verify if a program is going to work by getting Info on it and looking at the Kind field.

    If it says "Universal" or "Intel" you should be good to go with that on Lion.

    If it says "PPC" or "PowerPC" that program will not run in Lion as Lion does not have Rosetta in it.

    You can also look in Apple System profiler's Software tab. You can find this under Apple menu -> About this mac -> Get more info. Sort by the "Kind" then scroll down for PowerPC

  10. Bluspacecow, that's great advice for the PPC stuff. You are right, if it says PPC or PowerPC there is no chance that the program will work at all in Lion. You may as well be trying to run iPhone apps or Windows "exe" files. No chance at all.

    I would be careful about assuming that all Intel (or Universal) apps will work fine in Lion. Intel code is an important first criterion but with a new operating system there can be many other ways for a program to be incompatible. For example, the installer for Office 2008 is PPC, and so is the Auto Updater. Google's Chrome browser doesn't quite draw right. FileMaker Pro 11's export to Excel is broken (this one part of FileMaker relies upon Rosetta).

    Be sure your printer and scanner software is working and isn't reliant upon a PPC installer in case you have to reinstall under Lion. Most printer brands will have a web page listing compatibility with Lion– check them out.

  11. What about adobe photoshop elements 9 any word it works with Lion Os X.?

    Yes, I rushed to install the new operating system and my microsoft office tools don't work… yikes.

  12. I wish I had read this earlier….so far I've had to buy Office 2011 for Mac ($129) and I'll need to upgrade Photoshop as well….Lion is turning out to be waaaaay more expensive than $29.

  13. Jose, I installed the Photoshop Elements demo here on my MacBook with Lion and it works fine.

    If you need a newer Office here's a link to it on Amazon: However, if you only need to occasionally open a Word or Excel document look into Pages and Numbers (available separately) from the Mac App Store. $19.99 each.

    I also like "Pixelmator" from the Mac App store for $29.99– nearly a Photoshop clone. Here is a link to download a trial version of that.

  14. I have been having a lot of problems with my Mac freezing when trying to open iTunes or Mail and when trying to log out or shut down. When trying to open an app, the icon (if on dock) will bounce for a log time and eventually stop without opening. When trying to log out, the desktop and dock will go away but nothing else will happen. Sometimes it will go to the tan screen but just hang. This started while still running Snow Leopard. I had hoped upgrading to Lion would fix things but they seem to have gotten worse.
    I have tried running the disk utility and fixing the permissions several times (usually a lot of problems are found and fixed) but still no improvement. I always end up having to shut off the computer by holding the power button.
    Any suggestions? All ideas would be most appreciated.

  15. Hannah, the Mac app store and the Amazon app store are separate. Your Mac app store gift card cannot be applied to Amazon's store. Sorry about that, but you'll have plenty of choices with the Mac app store.

  16. Haha, thanks… but I just want the updated Office, argh… and I still had a 3rd product key to use from my 2004 version…. Do you foresee anything happening ever where 2004 will be applicable to Lion? Because now I can't even open my old word files to even edit..

  17. No chance on 2004 becoming usable on Lion. However, for free, you can control-click on a Word document and "Open with…" TextEdit.

    Pages, part of Apple's iWork and available from the Mac App Store for $14.99 (I think) will also open Word docs. As long as the documents are not too fancy Pages will open them just fine.

    Bonus tip: if all you want to do is view a Word doc click it once to select it, then press the space bar to pop it open. Space bar again to close.

  18. Oh my yes. Pages will be great for you and your handouts. You'll love it. Pictures and more, a thousand times better and easier than in Word. I worked on the iWork 09 Missing Manual book (see link at left here) and that would be a terrific reference.

    Look for Pages info on Apple's web site. They have little video tutorials that will show you what it can do. Highly recommended.

  19. It IS cool. You're going to love it. $19.99 well spent. Recommendation: watch the introductory video when you start Pages the first time. Also, under the Help menu in Pages, look for Video Tutorials. Work your way through ALL of them. That is the easiest and fastest way to learn the program. "Tutorial" in this case means "a three-minute movie that you watch." So easy, so fun. If you need more help, the Pages Help (also under the Help menu) is good, and the Pages User Manual ( is also good.

    Finally, if you want an excellent third-party book, get iWork '09: the Missing Manual (with Technical Review by ME). Here's the link.

    Feel free to contact me via email if you're stuck. Also, I'd appreciate it if you would spread the word about my blog. The more the merrier. Click the Like button, click the Share button, tell a friend. Thank you.

  20. Hi Christain –
    firstly can I just say –
    Cheers everyone – and Happy Xmas and the best New Year.

    I have a new imac with 10.7.2 -12gb RAM and found it rather slow to begin with. My old imac with only 4gb RAM was much sharper.
    Anyway – now the apps pre-installed won't work – they freeze when I try to open them – and the whole system hangs.
    It's very disappointing.
    These are apple apps like photobooth, safari, itunes etc – and rebooting doesn't solve the problem.
    In fact re-starts seem to take ages.

    I'm not impressed.

    Thank goodness for my trusty Windows laptop – ot I couldn't write this.
    Any advice anyone? Other than re-install fromt he recovery partition?
    (no disc is supplied with the new machines – which is also disappointing).

  21. Merry Christmas to you too, in about an hour.

    Obviously this is not how it's supposed to work. You could reinstall the system, which would not be so hard to do– so why not try it. But, I think you may have a hardware issue. I suspect the RAM. 12 GB is not a standard set-up so maybe the extra RAM you have in there is not up to spec. Try taking it out.

    Of course, with a new iMac, you have a year warranty on it. I'd take out some RAM and see how it goes, but if it took me more than a couple of hours I'd take the machine to an Apple Store.

  22. HI Christian –
    thank you for your reply.
    The RAM is just fine –
    I upgraded it myself as soon as the new machine arrived – and is exactly the right stuff.

    I managed to do a recovery from Time Machine to a back-up I did a couple of days ago.
    If you hold down fn/alt when booting up – you are given options.
    I chose the recovery option – and it has 4 options within that.
    Fist I used disk ultility to repair and verify the disc.
    One problem (seems to be a common one) is "ARDapp in corrupted and will not be repaired.
    This is an app for remote access to your MAC.
    I don't think it was causing the problem though as I've been using the imac every day since I got it.
    No other problems at all.

    However I then chose to restore a backup from Time machine – and it worked a treat.
    I chose one from a couple of days ago just to make sure I was using the last known working installation.

    I could not have accessed Disk Utility nor Time MAchine without using this recovery option in the boot facility.

    SO I hope this helps anyone else who cannot access any apps after booting up.

    FWIW – I think it seems to be working faster than before.

  23. Glad it's working. Nice going.

    I have seen, in all my years of working with Macs, ONE bad RAM chip. I though you might have had the second. Glad to be wrong in this case!

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

  24. Hi Christian,
    Upgrading Office means bye bye Point Zero, the standard budgeting program that commercial peeps have been clinging to by not upgrading. Now that upgrading is a forced issue with iCloud, what has replaced Point Zero out there in production land?

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