How To: Install OS X Lion on Multiple Macs

Psst. Here’s a little-known secret that very few people know — even though Apple has done nothing to keep it a secret. One $29.99 purchase of Lion gets you an unlimited license to download it on as many Macs as you like. And it’s super simple to do, too.

Mac App Store

Corporate logic would dictate that one install of an operating system would equate to one purchase. But that’s not true of Lion, Apple’s latest iteration of its popular OS X operation system. With Lion, one purchase equals as many installations as you please — on as many computers as you like.

Say you’ve already downloaded and installed Lion on your primary Mac, but you want to put it on a second machine. Maybe it’s your spouse’s Mac, or a parent or child, or even a friend, for that matter. Heck, it can be your boss at work if you want to suck up. Or just a total stranger on the street. You can give anyone you want a free download of Lion. Whether they use an iMac or a MacBook, it doesn’t matter. And it won’t cost you one extra cent. You just have to get brief access to their computer. Here’s what to do.

  1. On the second (or third, or fourth, etc.) Mac you want to install Lion on, open the Mac App Store.
  2. Go to the “Store” drop-down menu, and click on “Sign Out.” Then go back to the same menu and click “Sign In.”
  3. Here’s the key point. When the drop-down menu appears, sign in to this computer using the Apple ID that you used to download your original purchase of Lion.

  4. Click on the “Purchased” tab at the top of the App Store. You’ll be presented with a list of every app you’ve ever downloaded for your Mac. Find “OS X Lion” on this list. It should look like this:
  5. To the far right of Lion should be a button that says “Install.” Click it. You’ll probably get another drop-down menu asking for your password again. Just put it in and your download will begin immediately.
  6. Once the download is complete (which will take a while — it’s 4GB in size after all!) and the installation is done, remember to go back to the Mac App Store and sign out, so the user of this computer can sign back in with their Apple ID.
That’s it. You’ve just given the gift of Lion.
About Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

Comments

  1. Will Swigart says:

    What about if you buy a new Mac with Lion installed, can you then somehow install Lion on other hardware qualifying Macs?

    And if so, how would you do that?

    • That’s a great question. Hm. I should think you’d be able to re-download Lion from the Mac App Store if need be, so maybe if you can download it again, you should be able to do it from another computer, as well, using your Apple ID? It sounds good in theory, eh? ;) I have no way of testing it without a new Mac, so maybe you could try it and let us know if it works?

      • Will Swigart says:

        What happens if one needs to reinstall it on the new Mac for instance, how does that work?

        Does Apple know you bought a new Mac with Lion on it and adds it to your AppStore purchases?

        Hummmmm….wondering is all.

  2. Actually, it doesn’t work like that. I bought a new MacBook Pro with Lion pre-installed. The app store shows that I have Lion installed but I cannot re-download it. Holding in option only changes it from “installed” to “$29.99″. It also does not appear in my purchased apps list and is not in the hidden list as well. If I want to re-install Lion, i’ll be forced to boot to the recovery partition and then wait for it to download the entire 4GB Lion installation package of the net. Having a handy install DVD would have been much better.

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