Apple OS X "Mountain Lion" Upgrade

There is not much over-the-top wow about the OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” upgrade, and it seems like the small upgrade fee goes to more subtle changes this time around. The upgrade itself was uneventful, but took a while due to database changes in Mail and Calendar, which needed to convert.

As for functionality after the upgrade, here are a few things I found to be worth remembering -

  • More apps that work with Retina displays. Personally, I am all for better displays, and am pleased with the Retina displays on both my MacBook Pro and iPad. There are some apps, such as Acrobat X which render fonts horribly on a Retina display, but Preview still works for displaying PDFs. I am hopeful for Acrobat XI.

  • Safari finally has a combined address and search bar, like Chrome, and also lets you pinch-in to make the open tabs act like on iOS.

  • Really solid integration between the OS and social networking services Twitter and Facebook. Check out the nice integration in Address Book. You can also share to Flickr from a Quick Look popup. Try going to System Preferences, Mail/Contacts/Calendars, add your Twitter account, and click “Update Contacts.” It is quite convenient to be able to grab Twitter handles and Facebook profile photos.

  • You can rename files from some apps now. Notice the drop down menu to the right of the file name, in say, Preview.

  • There are Sharing actions you can take from Quick Look. Press space with a file selected in Finder, then use the sharing icon. Also, find the sharing icon in other apps, such as Preview, Notes, Textedit, Safari as well. You can share entire web pages via email, in Safari now.

  • Double tap/click in the Sort By bar at the top of Mail’s message list, to jump to the first message. Much easier than grabbing those fiddly scroll bars, and is something I have wanted for a long time.

  • Speaking of Scroll Bars, they now grow under your mouse to let you grab them. 50% less fiddly, compared to previous iterations.

  • Gatekeeper is a good change and requirement, I think. Apple have made it a little more difficult to run apps from unknown sources. See System Preferences, Security and Privacy.

  • Dictation is pretty cool, if you turn it on (System Preferences, Dictation) but note that it sends data to Apple’s servers, and requires an Internet connection.

  • You can search directly from Launch Pad, but I still just use the Spotlight icon and type the name of the app, to search for it.

  • Calendar (previously iCal) seems to work better with Google Calendar. I gave up on iCal in Lion, and switched to BusyCal, but I might give Calendar a try once again.

  • Message center is irritating, to me - I am not a fan. I like Growl better, and I had to mess around with Calendar delegates, otherwise I was getting popup reminders for all the staff in my company. Maybe it will grow on me. I will give it a chance.

Hope you find something you can use. Enjoy!

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—by Rick Cogley