20 Reasons OS X Mountain Lion Is Worth $20

The best way Mac owners can spend $19.99 is to head over to the App Store and upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion.

The OS X Mountain Lion update (OS X 10.8) can be installed on multiple Macs, so long as they’re all using the same Apple ID for App Store purchases. Households with multiple Macs will benefit the most, driving down the price to just a few dollars per machine.

Apple’s latest OS X release has more than 200 enhancements. Here are 20 of our favorites, which are surely worth $1 a piece.

Notification Center

OS X Mountain Lion brings the Notification Center from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac with built-in support for Messages, Reminders and third-party apps.

Mountain Lion Notification Center

Notification Center makes the jump to Mac in OS X Mountain Lion.

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A two finger swipe from the right of the trackpad opens the Notification Center where you can see all of your notifications.

The Notification Center also replaces Growl, offering pop up notifications and alerts in the banner or alert style as well as the ability to turn off notifications.

AirPlay

With AirPlay whatever’s on your Mac’s display can be mirrored  onto an HDTV via an  Apple TV. The update makes sharing your display and audio as easy as using AirPlay on the iPhone or iPad.

One of the best parts about AirPlay for Mac is the ability to stream the video from any Web site or video service to the HDTV. This means you can now stream video from sites like Hulu, network and cable stations to your HDTV without any restrictions.

Here is an Airplay for Mac demo on OS X Mountain Lion.

Unfortunately, AirPlay can’t turn the HDTV into a second display to provide more work space.

Dictation

Dictation in OSX Mountain LionMountain Lion includes a new tool that lets you dictate to your Mac, just like on the iPhone 4S. It doesn’t allow for voice commands like Siri, but it can make typing faster.

Mac Dictation works in any text field on the Mac, and it’s easy to start dictation with a double tap of the function key.

The new dictation feature handles punctuation, like “comma” or “period” and supports English (U.S., UK, and Australia), French, German, and Japanese.

Normally a good dictation program like Dragon Dictate for Mac runs $199. Dragon Dictate is much more capable than Apple’s Dictation, but some users will appreciate the simplicity of the native feature.

Game Center

Mac gamers can use the new Game Center to keep track of their progress in games on the Mac and iOS. Like the iOS version of the app, game Center for Mac shows leaderboards and achievements so players can compare their progress to their friends’.

Game Center Mountain Lion

Game Center comes to Mac in Mountain Lion.

Game Center also makes it easier to find games on the Mac. Launching the app opens a screen with the user’s stats surrounded by popular Game Center games. Right now the selection is sparse as very few Mac games use the service, but it does have great games like Anomaly Warzone Earth, Sky Gamblers, and Cut The Rope.

After Mac gamers find a few games on Game Center they can play those games online against anyone else on a Mac or iOS device. So gamers who like flight games can buy Sky Gamblers on the Mac and play against other players who might use an iPad or iPhone at the same time.

Notes

Finally, Notes syncs across all Apple devices. After installing OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud will sync notes between all machines.

This is no Evernote replacement, but for most users this beats TextEdit for a quick place to jot notes and start documents.

With the iCloud syncing these notes are also available on the iPad and iPhone without the need to send or export to another service.

Safari iCloud Tabs

The new version of Safari includes a unified search and address bar, but that is available on Lion as well.

Safari iCloud Tabs

Safari iCloud tabs keep your browsers in sync across all Apple devices.

The new iCloud Tabs syncs the open tabs across all iOS device to iCloud and on to the iPhone and iPad.

This allows me to open up the same webpages on my phone as i have on my computer, and to pick up reading a longer article on my computer without saving or emailing the link to myself.

Reminders

Reminders makes the jump from iPhone to Mac with his Mountain Lion exclusive app. Reminders not only syncs with iCloud to keep all of your reminders in check across all Apple devices.

Reminders offers reminders on a specific day and the ability to set a location to be reminded. This allows you to set a reminder that triggers when you leave home or arrive at a specific location.

Messages

The new Messages App offers an integrated messaging experience, including the ability to send messages to iPhone and iPad users.

Messages on all iOS and OS X Devices

Messages keeps iMessage conversations in sync across devices.

The Messages app replaces iChat and is capable of connecting to various third-party chat services like Google Talk and AOL Instant Messenger.

Apple offered a beta that let OS X Lion users try Messages, but it is now an iOS exclusive feature.

Sharing Large Attachments in Messages

With Messages there’s no need to upload a large file to Dropbox or other third-party sharing services to send files to friends and coworkers.

Send large file in Messages

Send large file in Messages to save time.

Enter the Apple ID of a friend or coworker and you can send them files up to 100MB in size.

Built-in Sharing

Sharing in Mountain lion OptionsSafari and other OS X apps are set up to share with many social networks and services. Users will find the Share Button in Safari for sharing to Twitter and later this fall Facebook.

The Sharing is also in Notes, where users can share a note in Messages or via email. The email solution is even smart enough to open Chrome and load Gmail for users who don’t have Mail set up.

Sharing also exists in Photo Booth, Contacts and iPhoto.

Gatekeeper

Apple includes a new security tool in OS X Mountain Lion which can help prevent the installation of Malware.

Gatekeeper Mountain Lion Security

Gatekeeper offers an added layer of security in Mountain Lion.

By default, the Gatekeeper app only allows apps from the Mac App Store and trusted developers, but users can change the settings to allow any app to install.

PowerNap

powernapPower Nap keeps your Mac up to date, even when it’s sleeping. This means you’ll see notifications, messages and more as soon as you wake your Mac, even if you do so when you’re away from a wireless network.

Watching a Mac run system updates can be annoying as it can put the computer (and your work) out of commission for several minutes at a time. PowerNap allows Macs to run these updates while the computer is sleeping.

Power Nap only runs when a MacBooks is plugged into AC outlets, which means it won’t drain its battery.

iCloud Document Syncing

The new version of iWorks apps connect with iCloud in Mountain Lion to sync documents to the all Mac and iOS devices using the same Apple ID.

iCloud document syncing

iCloud keeps your documents synced between Apple devices.

This means Pages, Keynote and Numbers documents will stay up to date across your computer, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch without the need to sync or connect to your computer.

Better Mail

The new Mail in Mountain Lion probably won’t convince many users to switch from Sparrow or other mail clients, but it is a bit better than it was.

Better Mail App

Mail.app offers nice improvements to email experience in OS X.

The new app makes it easier to find emails from important contacts with VIP contacts. To enable VIPs users need to hover over a username and click the star that appears next to it. The contact is then labelled a VIP, and users can find every email from that person by clicking VIPs in the menu bar just above the messages pane.

The new Mail.app also includes inline search so users can search a single email for words instead of having to skim through it.

Apple took the RSS feeds option out of the Mail app, but we feel like that’s an improvement as the app was never great for reading feeds.

Three Finger Touch to Preview

Apple introduced Quick Look to the Mac with Leopard, and it received an overhaul in Lion. In Mountain Lion it gets another small upgrade.

Users no longer have to hit the spacebar to open Quick Look, they just need to tap the document with three finger on the trackpad. It’s a small feature, but a nice one for users who use Quick Look a lot.

Contacts App

The new Contacts app replaces the address book with better connectivity to social networks to put a face with contact information.

Contacts and Facebook

The new Contacts app will connect with Facebook this fall.

When Facebook integration arrives this fall, the Address book will automatically update when your friends update information on Facebook.

The new Contacts app simplifies sharing contacts and includes an option to create smart groups of contacts

Software Updates in Notification Center

Stay on top of Notifications with the new software update notifications. When there is an OS X update or an update to Apps purchased from the Mac App Store users will get an unobtrusive notification.

Instead of interrupting work, this keeps the update notifications at hand, but not out of sight.

Search in Launchpad

LaunchPad is a useful tool for quickly finding and launching applications, but it can get cluttered as you add applications, creating multiple pages. Now you can simply search for apps rather than swiping from page to page in search of it.

Launchpad Search

Search in Launchpad to find apps faster on OS X Mountain Lion.

Dashboard Offers LaunchPad-Inspired Widget Selection

The Dashboard now offers a LaunchPad style widget selection tool to make it easy to find the widget you want and add it to the Dashboard.

OS X Widgets Mountain Lion

New widget selection screen in OS X Mountain Lion.

The Dashboard widget selection screen also features search like the new Launchpad, so it’s easy to find a widget even if you have many installed.

Flickr and Vimeo Integration

Vimeo sharingIn addition to Twitter and Facebook Apple added a few social networks specifically for creatives. Users can also sign into Vimeo and Flickr in System Preferences to easily share videos and photos across the social networks.

Sharing to the networks is just like sharing to Twitter, uses simply have to right-click the file in Finder, or click on the share button in Quick Look and choose the network to send it to. Users are then given a share sheet like the one used for Twitter, but with options for title, description, and tags. After filling out the information Mountain Lion automatically uploads the file to the service.

It’s an easy way share photos and videos, and even supports multiple photos for Flickr. It’s much easier than using the web uploader or apps like iPhoto. Not every user will want to share photos and video to the services, but for those who do, this is a feature they might find themselves using a lot.

  

Comments

  1. mike says

    Great article! I learned a lot from it. I like the QuickLook feature where you can just tap with three fingers.

  2. Jimbo says

    Great article, though with a different effect than planned.
    Convinced me that, other than a few nice tweaks to email, there is nothing here to warrant an upgrade. All this social integration is just nonsense. Too bad OS X is starting to become more about play than productivity, just like iOS.

  3. d morgan says

    when they fix all the flaming problems with os x in general it might be worth it, upgraded several machines to lion from snow leopard, they’re now so slow and mail fails horribly to the extent where Im gonna have to go in and do clean installs and re-setups on the machines, as the machines are practically unusable on 10.7.4 by the users, compared to how they were in snow leopard, os x is getting worse in my opinion as an operating system from a support perspective. The “the next os upgrade will solve all your problems” marketing mantra doesn’t wash I doubt the problems are fixed in mountain lion.

  4. Chandra says

    I can give you 3 reasons why this update is totally useless for me. It broke Google Chrome browser which I love to use. I get “Aw Snap” messages since I upgraded on about half of the sites. Either they purposefully broke Google Chrome or Chrome folks haven’t been smart to upgrade.

    2. Google Docs does not work well, either in Safari or Chrome on Mountain lion. Especially if you have to type non english characters. Chrome just crashes and Safari freezes.

    3. Battery life on Mountain lion sucks. My Mac Book pro (2009 summer)’s battery life literally reduced to half the time. I don’t even get full 2hours after the upgrade. Mountain Lion is turning out to be Apple’s equivalent of Microsoft Vista.

    4. If you upgraded using App store, there is no going back unless you took timemachine copies or backed up your $30 copy of lion. The app store does not let you download Lion again because you are on “more recent OS” – what a lame excuse.

  5. flowwiththeblood says

    not worth $20, these features should have been included on lion (some even already there and apple just rename the things)

  6. Alex says

    Rather disappointing. Most of these aren’t new concepts, they’re just rehashed crap that already exists? I’m worried that Apple is fast becoming the new Microsoft. I think I’ll wait till they move onto another OSX animal thanks.

  7. Ali says

    Looks good. Just a question, can I stream my Macbook Pro to my TV that doesn’t have Apple TV on it?

  8. Mike Schneider says

    Requiring a sign-in Apple ID to even apply updates to the operating system is the death-knell for Apple — it’s finally drank the Kool-Aid of high-octane money-grubbing, and placed itself into the Microsoft camp of no-pay-no-play.

    Ten years from now, Ubuntu will own the entire world while Apple and Microsoft fade into obscurity.

  9. Keri says

    So really this is a useless update unless you are able to drop $800 to get an ipad and iphone just to synch them together with your mac..

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