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Lion: Roaring to a Mac Near You This Summer

by Ryan Coyle

This summer if you’re receiving a new Apple computer, it will come with Apple’s newest desktop operating system, OSX Lion.*  Lion has over 250 new features, many of which are under the hood improvements to the way things work.  Here are some of the features that might make the biggest impact on your day to day Mac usage.

Multi-Touch Gestures:  This feature is aimed mainly at mobile users.  Multi-Touch gestures are a way to interact with the trackpad on your MacBook Pro or Magic Trackpad.  They take some getting used to, but once you can teach yourself the basic ones, like swiping between applications, pinching and zooming and launching the Launch Pad, you may soon wonder how you could go back.

Full-Screen Apps:  Full-Screen apps are a great way to maximize the screen real estate your applications use and let you focus on one particular app at a time.  Not all applications take advantage of this, but with updates to Microsoft Office, now all Office applications and others can be launched in Full-Screen Mode.  To launch an app full screen, click on the window key in the upper right corner.

Launchpad and Mission Control:  Launchpad and Mission Control are two new applications in Lion that are made to help you find your applications and switch between them more easily. 
Launchpad is the application that looks like a miniature rocket in your dock.  Clicking on it will bring you to a full screen view of all of the applications installed on your machine.  This is great for working with applications that you sometimes won’t put on your dock or if you’re in full screen mode, you can switch over to Launchpad to easily launch another application. 

Mission Control provides a complementary function by allowing you to easily switch between applications that you have running on your desktop.  Mission Control is the black square application on your dock that has three windows on it.  It gives you your current application in the middle of the screen and any other application that you have open across the top.  Mission Control essentially combines many of the features of the Dashboard, Expose, and Spaces into one app to help you control your screen space.

Resume:  Have you ever been in the middle of working on a document or other file and received a prompt that you need to restart the computer?  Resume allows you to stop what you’re doing, reboot and come right back to where you were before the reboot.  No longer do you have to close out all your web pages that you have open or save your important documents before restarting.  Your computer will automatically relaunch those files to where you left them when you come back.

Auto Save and Versions: Auto Save and Versions are enhancements to Mac OS X that will autosave documents as you compose them.  Versions allows you to manage multiple versions of the same file.  You can open different versions of the file and create almost a revision history of a document as you are writing it.  You can lock files for editing, duplicate a file, or revert a file to a previous version by clicking on the title of the application.  At this time not all applications support these features.  There is an update to Microsoft Office 2011 which will address these and bring these features to Office soon.

iCloud: iCloud is Apple’s new Cloud-based storage platform for many of its applications.  OS X Lion provides tight OS integration of this service with the OS itself, allowing you to share settings, files, pictures and music with other Apple devices that you may own.  Since it is an Apple based platform, it’s more tightly integrated with many of the Apple specific apps which are not commonly used on our campus, such as iPhoto, iCal and Mail.  To make use of the iCloud, you’ll need an Apple ID.

*As of June 2012, OS X Lion is Apple’s most current operating system.  OSX Mountain Lion is scheduled for a July 2012 release.

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