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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mac OS X Lion install notes and first impressions



screen_shot_2011-07-20_at_11.00.14_am.pngThe Mac OS X Lion update was released around 8:45 AM EST and I began downloading it shortly afterward. At home and about 45 minutes into the 4GB download, it was about 50% done but I had to leave, so I closed my MacBook thinking I might lose my progress. Later at a local Starbucks I was surprised to find that the download resumed automatically once I connected once I was online again. Total download time was about two hours.

Once downloaded, the install took about 35 minutes and after reboot a JAVA update took another ten. The update completed without a hitch and one great benefit was that I gained about 9 GB of hard drive space. On reboot an alert screen informed me of installed software that was incompatible with OS X Lion, and this software was automatically moved to "Incompatible Software" folders at the root level of my hard drive and in the Home folder (User folder). For me just a few incompatibilities were found. Those were:

  • Kernel extensions named AVFrameBuffer and AVVideoCard
  • The AirDisplay application
  • The SMS Dashboard Widget

There are more than 250 new features in the update, which is available to OS X Snow Leopard users only the Mac App Store. The first thing I noticed was the change in the Finder windows and additional features. A new "Cover Flow" view (see below) is added for browsing folders and files. In the left column you notice Devices are now at the bottom with Favorites at the top, with All My Files and AirDrop at the top of the Favorites list. The All My Files view sorts everything on your hard drive by file type and if click in the right of each row, the files scroll in a Cover Flow-like style.



The Multi-Touch Gestures, Mission Control and Full-Screen Apps features are the start of a melding between the touch-screen interface of the iPad and current MacBook technology. I haven't been using gestures but with Lion you have so much control over scrolling, zooming and navigation that I know it's now time for me to start. The navigation movement is very fluid and much easier to use than earlier versions. For desktop Macs the Magic Trackpad now makes sense.


Mission Control, which combines the features of Full-Screen Apps, Dashboard, Exposé, and Spaces into one new feature gives you a quick overview of everything on your Mac. With one three-fingered swipe on the trackpad your desktop zooms out to Mission Control. Very slick.

Launchpad puts all the apps on your Mac just one click away. Click the Launchpad icon and watch as your screen suddenly looks like an iPad, complete with the little dots at the bottom for navigation to additional pages of apps. You can arrange your apps in folders or delete them right from the Launchpad screen. No more hunting through folders to find them. To make a folder just drag an app on top of another, just like you do on an iPad.


After install I updated my Firefox browser and had to reboot. I didn't bother to close my running applications because I wanted to test the new Resume feature. It worked as advertised and all my apps opened automatically and were just as left them. What a time saver this is!

With Auto Save and Versions you no longer have to worry about losing your work when using applications that support this feature. I did a quick test with the TextEdit, creating four versions of a document so I could view them all and restore to a previous version. All versions were there with a date and time stamp and I was able to go back to the original version and still preserve the others. it's like having a time machine for your documents, no flux capacitor required!


The Full Screen Apps feature is really cool and again, very iPad-like. When you click the full-screen arrows in the upper right corner of iTunes, iPhoto, GarageBand, iMovie, Pages and other apps, a cool animation happens that makes it seem as if the desktop is sliding out of the way for the app. Using apps in the mode really maximizes your workspace and you're always a gesture away from the desktop or Launchpad.

The new Mail app is breath of fresh air for Mac users. It displays your messages and open email side by side in a new wide screen, two-column view with a new favorites bar below the toolbar that works like a bookmarks bar in a web browser. It also has greatly-improved search functions and a feature called Conversations with threaded message feeds in chronological order, making messages on the same topic more conversational and not so fragmented. On first launch of the Mail app I had to wait about 1/2 hour for my database to update. I suspect this is because I have five different email accounts in there and I need to do some house cleaning. So a normal database update likely will take a lot less time.


The features listed above are just the core changes available in OS X Lion and alone they make the upgrade worth the $29.99 price of admission. There are many more features to explore and I will share them we all discover new things. So far, though, the update is very stable and hasn't caused any problems worth noting. I have been using the Macintosh operating system for more than 20 years and this was the easiest and most feature-rich upgrade I can remember. As I launch and run more apps I'm sure I'll find some more incompatibilities and quirks, so stay tuned.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:31pm]


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