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Mac OS X Lion Available for Download

posted Jul 20, 2011, 2:42 PM by Nathan Eliason   [ updated Jul 20, 2011, 5:49 PM ]
Today, many users are upgrading their Mac computers with the latest operating system update from Apple, Mac OS X Lion. Continuing with this eighth installment of the "big-cat" OS theme, one wonders what could possibly be better than a Lion, a possible indicator that this may be the last installment before Apple completely rethinks its operating system.

To install Mac OS X, make sure your Mac has the latest updates for its current operating system, then go to the Mac App Store (in Snow Leopard), purchase it from there, and it will begin downloading. Note that this requires an Apple/iTunes account, and the download size is about 4GB. After the download is complete, the installer will appear in your dock and should launch automatically. This installer keeps all of your documents and will restart after completion, and then you're done. If you can't download it, you can purchase Lion on a flash drive beginning in August. Keep in mind that if you haven't already upgraded to Snow Leopard, you are required to do so before purchasing Lion, a great annoyance to those who have decided to wait for the next big operating system before upgrading.

The newest features in OS X Lion deal a lot with multi-touch and gesturing. Using either the external trackpad or the built in one, you will definitely notice an improvement in navigation. The animations for actions such as zooming and momentum scrolling have been redesigned and now feel much smoother. Scrolling is now also rethought, now more like an iPad where you actually "grab" the page with two fingers and drag it down or up. This takes some getting used to, as the traditional scroll bars we are used to (and now usually only appear when scrolling) travels in the opposite direction from the page. For example, to scroll down to the bottom of a webpage, you would normally push the scroll bar down, whereas now you actually drag the page up out of view. This makes scrolling much more intuitive in my opinion, and I find it easier now switching from this to an iDevice (scrolling on iPods, iPhones, and iPads is the same way). There are also many more gestures changed/now included that are simple and easy to learn, such as the 3-finger swipe in either sideways direction to change between full-screen applications.

Speaking of full screen apps, there is now a diagonal icon of an arrow in the top right corner of many native Mac apps that lets you go full screen with one click. If you don't see this on some programs, make sure you go to the App Store and upgrade all of your applications. Moving the mouse to the bottom of the screen reveals the dock when full screen. 

Mission Control is one of the more exciting aspects of Mas OS X Lion. This allows you to display all of your open programs. A much better alternative to the confusing Exposé, you can move programs between Spaces when here as well. A 3-finger upward swipe opens Mission Control.

In addition, the Mail app as been completely reworked. Functionality has increased tenfold as this app becomes easier than ever before to use. Much like the iPad version (a reoccurring concept), Mail now shows your inbox on the left in a sidebar with subject, date, sender, and a preview of the email's contents. The main window, on right, then shows the contents of the selected message, allowing you to browse your inbox with an email opened at the same time. Searching within your mail has also improved, so that you can create criteria within a search so Mail will only search for messages with a specific date, subject, etc. Also, your messages are organized into conversations, much like Gmail. 

Not to forget web browsing, Apple's Safari has become more intuitive with its own gestures as well. Including pinches to zoom, swipes to navigate through history, and the new scrolling method, you will be surprised at just how productive you can be. 

 Although less and less recently, sharing files over a local network has always been a hassle. With AirDrop, this makes it incredibly easy. While in Finder, a single click on the AirDrop button will bring up a graphic display of the users around you. Just drag and drop a file and the user will receive your file, as simple as that.

Taking another page from the iPad's book (not a bad idea), Apple has created a Launchpad feature much like the home screen of an iDevice. Showing all of your applications in a grid-like manner with a simple click in the dock or four-fingered pinch, it provides easy access to all your apps, even with advanced features like folders, jiggle-reordering, and multiple app pages (also from iOS). While the Dock is great, and an essential part to any Mac computer, having lots of apps makes for cluttered, small icons and difficulty even with magnification. Even so, this feature really makes the programs somewhat out of the way, and seems like it will be a feature not widely used. Although great for iOS devices, having the Launchpad in addition to the Dock, already with folder capability, and the Application window in Finder that will show all you apps anyway seems to be a bit pointless.

As well as all of these great features, there are many more (over 250), and while Lion doesn't come perfect (the Launchpad feature and Snow Leopard requirement), for the nice price of $30 (US), it is well worth it to upgrade. For those of you reading on your PC's, upgrading now is easier than ever! Apple will transfer over all of your documents, pictures, and assorted files over to your new Mac...