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I have posted a pre-release article on some of the notable features in Lion, as well as a post-release article about some of the first impressions I had of Lion. My recommendation for every Mac user has always been to get it, but of late I started rethinking my stance.

It started with a conversation I had with a friend. He told me that he didn’t see a need to upgrade, and before I could start to convince him, I realized that I didn’t have the answers myself. In fact, in my usage of Lion since the upgrade, I hardly used any of the features I wrote about.

I upgraded because it was new, and it was cheap(er). And that was the best I could come up with.

In my previous post, I wrote about my intent of not publishing another review, in part because there were so many great ones out there. However, I felt the strong need to publish an article on why anyone should bother with Lion, or at the very least, justify my own purchase. So I went back and started thinking about Lion again.

With more reviews read (including Siracusa’s 27,000 word essay) and slightly more experience with Lion, this is my justification for the roar.

—————

Reasons for Lion

Filevault*

I’ve never used Filevault for the entirety of my Mac history, which is about 4 years, but after Ben Brooks wrote about it, I quickly enabled the feature.

In short, Filevault is a security feature of OS X, and in Lion, it does full disc encryption compared to Snow Leopard’s home directory encryption only. Furthermore, according to many reviews, it works now when it mostly screwed up your computer in Snow Leopard. What this means for you is that your data — especially if you are mobile — is safe should it be misplaced.

It’s like locking the doors and windows of your house, and pulling down the blinds, as compared to just locking your money box in a house with closed, but unsecured doors.

[Update: I have always struggled with one question about Filevault (FV). You see, FV encrypts your data yes, and decrypts it with your login. Now, what then is the difference between a computer that has a login password but not encrypted as compared to a computer that has FV enabled? To me (and I believe most users), both computers are unusable without login, which seems to negate the point of encrypting the data. I ran this question through Ben Brooks and his reply was that hackers could remove my data without logging in; in other words bypass my login and steal my data. Since it can be assumed that my computer will only be decrypted when I’m using it, it then stands to reason that FV prevents anybody from making sense of any data even if they managed to steal it.

Going back to the house analogy, having no FV is like locking the doors of your house only to leave a small window poorly locked where sufficiently skilled robbers can enter through. Having FV is like locking the doors and still leaving that small window poorly locked, but now everything in your house is within another safe vault; sure people can break into your house but they will find the effort futile, since there is no furniture usable to them.

I’m not saying that you will be the target of hackers, but according to Murphy’s Law, you might just end up as a random target of a hacker. When that happens, ask yourself if you mind having people see your data. If the answer is no, then FV becomes an imperative.]

This alone is worth the money for me. However, that’s not all.

Autosave

I’ve written rather extensively in my pre-release article about it, but I think many of us underestimate the value of Autosave. Sure it helps me save and I can refer to previous versions, but since I always save my work, I have no need for this feature.

Really?

First of all, Murphy’s Law is alive and kicking; the time you didn’t save will be the time your computer crashes. However, I think this misses the whole point of Autosave. Autosave is not just here to save your work should the system crash — after all, Macs aren’t supposed to crash that much. No. The point of Autosave is to help you focus on your work and not have to worry about anything else.

There’s much talk about having a minimalistic environment for work, and with that an avalanche of distraction-free writing apps like iA writer and WriteRoom have taken center stage. Even Lion’s full-screen feature touts the same effect. However, what is the point of a distraction free environment if my mind is half occupied with saving?

It’s like boiling water over the fire while playing with your kids.

Autosave essentially replaces your old kettle with an electric one; one that will turn off by itself.

As an aside, Autosave currently only works for Apple productivity apps like Pages, Keynote, Numbers and TextEdit. And it’s not immediately obvious.

If you have only one version of the document (as in you are just typing straight without any saving), you’d see this as the document title:

Versions 1

document title when document is autosaved

 

The moment you do a save (or rather, Save a Version) and start typing, you’d see this instead:

Versions 2

document title when document has unsaved edits (i.e. versioning has happened)

 

Mouse-over the words Edited and a drop down menu will appear, showing the options for Versions.

I felt that Apple could make it a bit more obvious, but nonetheless, this alone is also worth the money.

Automatic termination

Those who use iOS devices will be familiar with this. What this does is that when your device is low on resources it kills the last used app to free up resource for your device, automatically.

It’s now happening in Lion. Once again, it’s along the vein of creating that focus on work in that the user don’t have to be concerned about closing apps just to save on resources. As a case in point, I used to close every single app before I ran iMovie just so I have enough resources. With Automatic Termination, this step is moot.

It’s like playing with your kids with multiple toys, only to have the some toys magically returning to their original positions when the play area gets too cluttered or too messy for you to handle.

This alone is not worth the money, but it’s part of the bigger picture of allowing Mac users to focus and not to have to worry about the system.

Finder

Two things in Finder stands out:

The first is the inclusion of a new folder called All My Files, which as the name suggests, lists all your files. This is great because one don’t have to worry about file management. Also, there is this new Arrange by button. Use the latter to display your files in All My Files by date modified, and you can quickly find the file you have been working on recently.

The second is search tokens. Think of it as advanced searching.

Now, opponents of search tokens might argue that it’s not useful as long as one practices good filing; worse still it might make us poorer organizers. My take is that one should always practice good filing for it often cascades to good organizational skills in life, but one need not go through the layers of folders to locate a particular file.

It’s like having your own dewey decimal system for all your kid’s toys, except that it’s not numbers but rather common speech.

This, like automatic termination, is not worth the cost alone, but contributes to the larger picture.

However, this is not all. There are some nice new stuff about Finder which aren’t exactly glamorous, but definitely welcome.

From the Apple website**:

Merge folders:When you try to combine two folders with the same name, the Finder now offers to merge them into a single folder.

Group as folder: Instantly create a folder from selected files by choosing the “group as folder” item from the contextual menu.

Drag files: When you drag multiple files from one location to another, they flock together. An indicator also appears next to the cursor, telling you how many files you’re moving.

Keep both files: When you attempt to add a file to a folder that contains a file of the same name, the Finder now offers to keep both files, appending the word “copy” to the name of the new file.

—————

Reasons against Lion

There’s actually only one reason not to get Lion, and that is app incompatibility. Then again, system patches and optimizations will come, hence this is not exactly a reason against Lion.

The real reason, is you love Snow Leopard too much (or for that matter, too comfortable with it).

—————

Some things I didn’t care for

There are some features I have written about or were touted, but hardly used or found no need for. Here’s some of them:

LaunchPad

I use a launcher called Alfred (free from the App Store) and it’s much faster than launching (sorry) apps from LaunchPad. However, LaunchPad is not without its merits. Siracusa wrote:

But the Dock falls short, especially for novice users, as an application launcher. Or rather, it falls short if the application to be launched isn’t actually in the Dock…

If you don’t understand how typing the name of an application into a search box can be so much more difficult than clicking an icon in the Dock, I suggest that you have not spent enough time with novice users. Such users often don’t even know the name of the application they want—or if they do, they don’t know how to spell it. That’s before considering the frequent disorientation caused by the rapid-fire search results refinement animation in the Spotlight menu, or the existence of multiple files whose contents or names contain the string being searched for. And this all assumes novices know (or remember) what Spotlight is and how to activate it in the first place…

In Lion, Apple aims to fill that gap with an application launching interface that’s meant to be as easy to use as the Dock while providing access to every application on the system.

In short, despite what many people say, there is a value in LaunchPad, and though I cared not for it, it might make someone else’s application management experience better (both finding, launching, and deleting). In fact, for this group of people, it might be worth every penny of Lion.

Mission Control

I’ve used it, but while I liked how it looked, I preferred how Exposé worked in Snow Leopard better. In the latter, Expose showed you minimized applications. Now, Mission Control only shows apps that are on the desktop — one can say that Mission Control doesn’t in fact manage all your running apps, but rather manages your desktop. Furthermore, Snow Leopard displayed all the windows of a particular app in an Exposé grid when you clicked and held down on the app icon. That was brilliant! Now, to see my minimized stuff, I use the three finger down-swipe to activate App Exposé, and tab between the apps.

That, is not smart. Actually, if not for the fact that I don’t care much for Mission Control, I might actually classify it as reason against Lion. For those who love (not loved) Snow Leopard’s Exposé function, make an informed decision.

AirDrop

When Apple revealed AirDrop, I jumped. It was absolutely brilliant! In fact, I might just get Lion if only for AirDrop!

Except for a teeny weeny problem.

I don’t have a use for it.

I work in an environment where company issued laptops excluded the Mac, and I’m the only one working on two machines (mine and the company’s). AirDrop, though brilliant, is redundant for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love it, but to call it a killer feature just because it’s brilliant isn’t exactly justifiable.

Mail

I’ve been using Sparrow since it first came out, and in Lion, I’ve tried going back to Mail. I actually grew to like the latter, especially the fact that I manage my accounts not in Mail but in System Preferences (meaning the account information results in system-wide integration — this however is not strictly a Mail feature, but what the heck). However, setting up Gmail accounts that don’t end with gmail.com in Mail required too much work; it was far easier in Sparrow (that was Sparrow’s selling point actually). Furthermore, Mail lacked Sparrow’s quick reply, which was, well, quick.

In short, Mail has improved a lot, and I love it. In fact I’m using Mail on my Lion installed MacBook Air, and Sparrow on my Snow Leopard iMac, just to compare the two and decide later on which I want to stick with. However, with the presence of Sparrow, I would hardly call Mail a reason for upgrading to Lion.

Even with Conversation view.

Yes it’s pretty but it’s something I can do without.

One more thing

Actually it’s some more things, but I couldn’t resist the heading. I’m now ploughing through the list of Lion’s 250+ features as advertised by Apple, and here’s some that might tip the scale in favor of Lion.

FaceTime

It’s a 99 cent app in Snow Leopard, but it’s free with Lion. If you must have it, and factor in the cost, Lion is now $29 instead of $29.99.

iCal

If you are still using iCal despite the garish new look, it now supports natural language, meaning you can type something like “Dinner with John at 7 pm” and iCal will create a new event for you.

Preview

Use the inbuilt FaceTime cam to take a photo of your signature and Preview uses that image to create a signature annotation for your PDF forms and documents. Brilliant.

QuickTime Player

The name is a bit of a misnomer — QuickTime does far more than just playing videos. Sure it can’t play as many different video files as VLC, but it is a nifty little video editing tool. In Lion, you can now use QuickTime to merge clips, export audio only, rotate clips, capture a part of the screen. show clicks on capture and share to various platforms easily. It’s powerful enough to not have to rely on iMovie all the time, and for new podcasters, I think QuickTime Player is a great start.

Character picker

In iOS devices, hold down on a character in your keyboard to bring up accented characters. Lion now ports over this function, making typing things like é especially easy. Just hold down a key.

—————

Conclusion

I would like to think that I’m more clear headed about Lion now.

With that, would I still recommend upgrading? Yes, unless you love Snow Leopard too much, or you have app incompatibilities.

Many others have written about the grand unification of iOS and OS X, as well as Apple’s efforts (said so by Apple themselves) in removing the burden of certain systemic habits from users.

Personally, what I felt about Lion as I wrote this re-review, is that it’s almost like Apple didn’t want you to worry about running apps (see Automatic Termination) or managing your desktop (Mission Control against minimizing apps to make space on your desktop); if your desktop is cluttered, just use Full-Screen mode.

In a nutshell, Apple is telling you: Don’t minimize, don’t close, don’t manage.

How this pans out I’m not sure. It might lead to the stupid-ifying of users, or a burst in creativity because people don’t have to worry about the system. Or it might just get more people to use computers. Either way, Lion has shipped, and any arguments for or against it is moot.

The question is: are you roaring or not?

—————

*I must confess that I don’t understand Filevault entirely, and am in the process of seeking answers from more knowledagble people. Will post more when I finally get my answers. You can find Ben Brooks via his Twitter handle @brooksreview.

**More on Finder’s new features can be found here.

My pre-release post can be found here, installation of OS X Lion here, and the post-release one (my previous post with links to many other reviews) here.

Also, here are some more reviews/nuggets about Lion that are worth reading:

Andy Ihnatko (for Chicago Sun-Times): Apple OS X 10.7 Lion roars with futuristic, and maddening, upgrades

Ben Brooks: Some Additional Lion Thoughts (this is the article that got me to enable Filevault)

Andy Ihnatko: Making Desktop Webapps in Lion (a must read; though a little geeky, it’s a brilliant little tidbit for creating that simple app to open that site you visit all-so-often)

Matt Legend Gemmell: Using Spaces on OS X Lion

Varsity Bookmarking: On the little red close button. Really cute and a fast-read. Check it out here.

PCWorld: Lion Upgrades Go Well… Mostly

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Over here at TOOZE, XY represents the geek who’s into hardware, gaming and Windows, while I’m into apps (both mobile and on the PC), design and Apple.

Not surprising that I found the story of how a Windows Magazine editor becoming an Apple fanboy interesting. Here’s some golden nuggets for you, but do promise me you’d read the whole article, because it’s not so much the conversion that got me chuckling, but rather the reasons for conversion that resonated with me and I’m sure, with many of you.

Mike Elgan:

The perfect out-of-box experience with the iPhone, the elegance of the whole experience of using an iPhone, re-set my expectations for how consumer electronics and computers should function. I started looking at the out-of-box experience of buying a Windows PC with a new contempt. The crapware. The stickers. The anti-virus software problem where the cure is worse than the disease. The flimsy hardware. It’s not so much that I despised Windows PCs, but that it felt like Microsoft and the PC makers despised them, like they all have no respect for their own platform.

I totally agree with Elgan because the experience of unboxing an Apple product is unparalleled. Says even my other hardcore Windows friend.

Elgan again:

Other companies could do extraordinary things in the future. Apple could falter. If all that happens, I’ll be happy to switch again. I have no unreasonable loyalty to Apple. I’m just a satisfied customer.

He totally nailed it. It’s not about Apple per se; even though they have one of the best marketing in the world. However, make no mistake: marketing cannot make up for a crappy experience.

And the last nugget (anymore and I’d be plagiarizing):

If Apple can turn the editor of Windows Magazine into a fanboy, no one is safe.

Read the full article here. (Via Minimal Mac)

I’ve successfully installed OS X Lion on Thursday, and managed to play with it a little these two days. The first and most lasting impression, is that Lion is pretty. I mean, it’s pretty enough to make the Snow Leopard running on my iMac look dated.

Seriously.

Here’s some of the more significant changes to me:

Finder

Finder  SL

Finder in Snow Leopard

Finder  Lion A

Finder in Lion, annotated

The first thing you’d notice about Lion are the grey monochrome icons on the left side, which are prettier but now I tend to refer to the icon title more as the icons are less obvious; or it could just be a transitional thing. Ben Brooks* pretty much summed it up:

I like the subtlety of the monochrome and I like to look at it. However, I don’t like using the OS as much with these changes, I find it just to difficult to find what you are looking for — too much subtlety and not enough usability.

I’m pretty much on the fence for between the two looks.

But it’s more than just looks. There were some changes that were more significant.

There’s now a new Arrange option at the top, for us to choose if we want to view the files by name, or type etc. Previously one would have to do a right-click and navigate the menus; now it’s just a click away.  Also, at the top-right you’d notice that the oval button for expanding the finder window is now gone. What this means is that what you see in Lion is final — there is no expanding or reduction in size or information. At the bottom, you no longer see the grey bar with information on the storage available, nor the number of files, which is kind of troublesome. At the bottom-right you no longer have the 4 diagonal lines (which were there to signify that you resize your window only at that spot), which meant that you could resize your window on any corner now.

Here’s a tidbit from Shawn Blanc** (emphasis mine):

The ability to grab any edge of an application window and resize it. (Try holding Shift or Alt while doing so.)

Also, there this nice new ‘folder’ on the left menu bar called All My Files. It literally shows you all your files by type (images, PDF etc). Very handy.

Overall, the Finder gained a lot, but lost a little on the information side.

Viewing of (HDD) storage

Since you can’t know the amount of available storage in your computer via the Finder window, you’d have to find it elsewhere. So I went to snoop around and went to About This Mac. There, I was pleasantly surprised; Apple revamped the whole look.

When you click on More Info…, you are greeted with a simple summary with four tabs on the top separating the different parts. If you wanted to know more, you could click on System Report… which is something most of us are not concerned with. This new look was clearly designed for the casual user in mind. Here’s the difference in look for the storage section:

Storage  SL

System profile in Snow Leopard

Storage  Lion

Viewing storage in Lion

Clearly, Apple drew heavily upon the memory usage representation from iTunes for iOS devices. Incidentally, when I wanted to find how much space I had in Snow Leopard, I had a hard time because I haven’t realized that Apple would put my hard disk under the label of Serial-ATA (I mean, yes it belongs there but can’t they pick an easier name?).

Isn’t the look in Lion much more intuitive? There’s also the Disk Utility… button at the bottom for one to access just in case we want to go there after reading about our storage usage.

I love the new look.

Trackpad

Trackpad  Lion

Trackpad preferences in Lion

I must say this upfront: I disabled the ‘natural’ (inverted) scrolling.

Not that it was bad, nor did it drive me nuts; in fact I sort of got it in the sense I’d scroll as before, notice that it was wrong and immediately scrolled the ‘natural’ way.

Then I realized that I do ‘natural’ scrolling on my iPad, and ‘non-natural’ scrolling on my MBA intuitively; there were no disconnect. Why? The thing was that on the iPad, I’m touching my information or screen literally, and inverted scrolling just felt right — it was literally, natural. However, on the computer I am manipulating the screen through a distance; nor are they in the same plane (the screen is vertical and the trackpad horizontal). I knew that I was manipulating the interface through a hardware, and muscle memory (of traditional scrolling) kicked in instead of intuition.

It was not natural to use ‘natural’ scrolling in a non-natural environment. So I killed it.

What impressed me however, was the inclusion of two videos in the above screenshot. Select ‘natural’ scrolling, and the video would show you how it looked and worked; deselect it, and it’d show you another video of how traditional scrolling looked and worked. It’s a minor thing, but a very nice deliberate touch to help people adjust better.

System Preferences

Sys Pref  SL

System preferences in Snow Leopard

Sys Pref  Lion

System preferences in Lion

If you compared the two system preferences, you’d notice some new additions. The one that I’d like to highlight would be under Internet & Wireless > Mail, Contact & Calendars. Here, you’d add your mail accounts, such as MobileMe or even Google, and your mail, contacts and calendars from these accounts are available system wide, most notably in the Mail app and in Address Book. This is different from Snow Leopard where you added your accounts into Mail and Address Book separately; the integration is much better.

Extended desktop and Spaces

I use my MBA in class for presentations and I ran into a weird problem with Lion. Basically, I’ve set up my laptop to display an extended desktop when connected to the projector (an external display), and this allows me to run the presenter view for presentations. In Lion, when an app runs into full screen, it goes into a new Space and this causes the external display to show a blank screen instead of the app — so I have my desktop on my laptop, the app running full screen in a Space that is not seen anywhere, and a blank external display.

What I then did was to mirror my desktop, and switch to the Space with the app running full screen. It’s less than elegant and I’m sure there’s a solution; I haven’t got to test it yet but I’d post it here when I do.

Some last thoughts

I haven’t used Lion enough, but Apple added a lot of nice touches that made Lion not so much the revolutionary OS, but rather an OS made for humans. I’d say it again:

Lion feels like it was made with humans in mind, to the extent of making Snow Leopard feel like it was engineered by robots for robots. And Snow Leopard was supposed to already be intuitive.

Shawn Blanc** echoes this when he wrote:

Lion is what OS X was meant to be: refined, attractive, and user-friendly.

One note though: Lion felt a little slower than Snow Leopard, especially when launching the Mac App Store. To be fair, I didn’t time it, nor did it affect my usage. It was just an observation that seemed to run contrary to many reviews.

So would I recommend Lion? Definitely, unless you have a strong reason not to as mentioned in my previous post, or if you need apps that don’t work well with Lion***.

Recommend/further readings on Lion

This should be my last post on Lion (as a review), and if you are looking for more information, the list below should suffice.

Disclaimer: I don’t do everything recommended in the readings, and if you only have time for two, I’d recommend Ben Brook’s and Shawn Blanc’s. Ars Technica’s review is über long (27,000 words); I haven’t read it myself but John Siracusa who wrote it is well-known for his reviews. Also, the article posted by Apple on recovery for Lion is an important read for those wondering about recovery without a physical disc.

*Ben Brooks: Time for the Big Cat

**Shawn Blanc: OS X Lion

Ars Technica: Mac OS X 10.7: the Ars Technica review

Apple: Introducing Lion Recovery

Cult of Mac: OS X 10.7 Lion Is The First Great PC Operating System Of The Post-PC Age [Review]

Macgasm: Review: OS X Lion is here and rawrtastic

Wired: Lion Is Smooth, But Tried Too Hard to Be iOS

Gizmodo: The OS X Lion Survival Guide

Engadget: Apple OS X Lion (10.7) review

TidBITS: Our Favorite Hidden Features in Mac OS X Lion

CNET: 5 hidden, awesome Lion features

***Adobe: Known Issues with Adobe products on Mac OS 10.7 Lion

OS X Lion is finally out, and I’m sure many Mac users out there plan to upgrade. I’m currently in the processing of reformatting my MacBook Air for it, and here are the steps I’ve took to prepare for it. For those who wonder about the features and if Lion is for you, check out my previous post about Lion. I will however be writing a new post about using Lion soon, so keep a lookout for it.

———-

Step 1: Check your system

You’d want to make sure that you system is able to run OS X Lion. On your desktop, go to the Apple icon on the top left.

Desktop

When the menu appears, select About This Mac

Menu

A window will pop up, and you’d see the following:

About this Mac Annotated

Check that your OS is version 10.6.8 (the latest), that your processor is minimally a Intel Core 2 Duo (if you see i3, i5 or i7 you’d fine too), and that you have minimally 2 GB of memory. If your OS does not show the numbers 10.6.8, click on the Software Update… button and follow the instructions. If you are running 10.5 and below, meaning OS X Leopard and before, I’m afraid OS X Lion is not for you; you’d need to update to OS X Snow Leopard before upgrading to Lion.

Step 2: Backup

Assuming that your system is good to go, you’d want to backup your data. Personally, I keep most of my files in Dropbox* so I don’t have any files I’d need to backup on my MacBook Air. However, it’s good to check your Documents, Downloads ,Movies, Music and Pictures folders just to make sure you didn’t miss out anything.

On my iMac, I have music and videos that are not in Dropbox, as well as files on the Desktop. What I did was to run Time Machine on my iMac, and also did a copy of all my files onto a portable harddisk.

Step 3: Make a list of applications you’re using and prepare them

Next, I went to my Applications folder and made a physical list of the applications I have installed. This is also a good time to evaluate if you need those apps, and skip the installation if you are not using them anymore. Applications that are bought through Mac App Store can be ignored since you can easily install them later; what you need to take note are those bought elsewhere. Make sure that you have the license codes written down, and download the new installation files (not necessary now) or dig up those discs.

If you need a particular application and you don’t have the installation disc/file, you might just want to stick to your current OS unless you are prepared (and able) to get a new copy of the app.

Step 4: Reformat (optional)

This is not a necessary step, but it’s a step I do nonetheless because I like to use this time of upgrading to be also a time of stocktake and refresh. Hence I’d reformat my computer to wipe out all old data and with it bad system files and maybe viruses. To do that, you’d need a copy of OS X Snow Leopard (since you’d need it anyway to upgrade to Lion). To learn about formatting your Mac, refer to the later section of this post. After reformatting, remember to run Software Update.

Step 5: Purchase OS X Lion from the Mac App Store

Here’s where it gets fun. Run the Mac App Store, and purchase Lion. Everything else is pretty straightforward from there.

Step 6: Enjoy

Need I say more? Enjoy the new OS!

———-

Reformatting your Mac

Note: you might want to print this out or make sure you have these set of instructions on a separate machine before proceeding; you won’t be able to access this on the machine you’re reformatting!

Step 1: Insert disc/flash drive

My MacBook Air comes with OS X Snow Leopard in a flash drive, and as an aside, I must say it’s a beautiful piece of engineering. Anyway, if you intend to reformat a DVD-driveless machine like the Air, make sure you have an external DVD drive or the OS on a flash drive; running it over Remote Disc is not doing to work.

Step 2: Restart your Mac (automatic)

Select Install Mac OS X and you’d then be prompted to restart your computer.

Step 3: Choose your language

When your computer boots up from restart, you’d be prompted to choose a language. After that, you’d be at the Install Mac OS X page. Here, do not click Continue. Instead…

Step 4: Choose Utilities > Disk Utility from the toolbar at the top

Step 5: Choose the main drive and format it

After entering Disk Utility, you’d notice a list of drives on the left. Select the topmost one (the one above Mac OS X — or something similar) and then select the Erase tab on the right (by default, you’d see the First Aid tab selected; Erase is on the right). Format should be Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and the Name should be something useful, like OS X. Of course, you could put some weird name but remember that this is the drive where your OS resides. After you are done, click Erase.

As an aside, my MacBook Air with 40 GB used only took like the time of the above sentence to be erased. Amazing.

Step 6: Quit Disk Utility

Step 7: At the Install Mac OS X screen, click continue and follow instructions

Step 8: After installation, run Software Update until your OS is at version 10.6.8

Step 9: Continue with Step 5 of installing OS X Lion

———-

*You can check out my previous post about what Dropbox is, and how I use it here.

Further Readings

Cult of Mac: How To Upgrade Your Mac To OS X Lion… The Right Way

Revert To Saved: Mac OS X users: clone your Macs before installing Lion

Cult of Mac: If You Want To Migrate From Snow Leopard To Lion Tomorrow, You Need This Update

PCWorld: Get Your Mac Ready for OS X Lion Installation

Daring Fireball (John Gruber): I Believe in Murphy’s Law (on backups)

Apologies for the late post! Given that the release of OS X Lion is impending, I’ve finally put together some thoughts on it for you readers who want to find out more.

———-

First up, some information:

1. When is it released?

Soon. If you go to the OS X Lion product page, you’d notice the words “Coming in July”.

2. How much will it cost?

US$29.99, and it’s only available on the Mac App Store.

3. What are the requirements?

From the OS X Lion product page:

Your Mac must have an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor to run Lion. Find out if your current Mac has one of these processors by clicking the Apple icon at the top left of your screen, then choosing About This Mac.

On top of that, you’d need the latest version of OS X Snow Leopard, which is 10.6.8 at the time of writing.

The folks over at PCWorld mentioned that 2GB of RAM is required too*.

4. So should I upgrade?

Personally I’d say yes, because some of the features are really quite compelling; and the price is by far the cheapest OS upgrade I’ve ever made. Furthermore, OS X Lion feels a lot more like iOS than ever, which makes switching between the two platforms (as I do on a daily basis) a lot more natural.

However, upgrading might not be for you. PCWorld** ran an article about this very question; do check out their rather comprehensive list.

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Apple revealed that OS X Lion will sport over 250 new features, and went on to present 10 in the keynote. Here are some of the more significant features and my thoughts on them:

Mission Control

In the words of Apple:

Mission Control brings together Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces, and full-screen apps to give you one place to see and navigate everything running on your Mac.

Why is this significant? Basically, it’s a one button/shortcut to manage all your opened apps and documents. If that does not help you find your stuff more easily, I don’t know what will. I know I will love it, because I now close/minimize windows just to keep my desktop clean, and not use Spaces because switching between them isn’t exactly intuitive yet.

Some other nice touches to Mission Control include a dedicated gesture to activate it, consolidation of the DashBoard in it, pinch to peek documents in the same app (like how one peeks at a photo album in iPad’s Photo app), spacebar to Quick Look, and the ability to create and delete Spaces with a button (which looks a lot like how one would delete iOS’s apps).

Have I mentioned that I love it already?

Mac App Store

This is not new in that it’s already available in OS X Snow Leopard, but two things about it stand out.

First, in-app purchase is allowed. Sure it’s probably possible for Apple to roll it out in Snow Leopard, but since they are putting it with Lion, I’d take it as a new feature.

Second, is delta updates.

Why is this significant? In-app purchases are great because software developers can now ship trial software or make cheaper ones for users who don’t need the extra features.

For the uninitiated, delta updates are like smaller updates/patches compared to full downloads of the apps. This means that you’d use less of your mobile data, and updates are much faster.

Launchpad

iOS users will find this familiar:

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Launchpad. Image source: Apple.com

Basically, Launchpad is a place where you can access your apps, and move them around or make folders, just like in iOS.

Why is this significant? iOS owners switching over to a Mac will find this treatment of app installation/management superbly familiar, and comforting. It’s also faster and in some ways neater. Furthermore, what Apple has effectively done is to make the Applications folder moot — one does not need to know that it even exists.

Resume

I’m surprised that Apple didn’t include this in the top list of new features, because this is a biggie.

Resume basically ‘saves’ your workspace (as in the layout of your apps) when you close the app, or restart/shut down your computer, so as to return you to the same state when open the app, or log in.

Why is this significant? Workspaces for different apps can be easily set up and maintained, reducing the need to rearrange windows each time you open the app. In fact, the latter is a reason why many people don’t shut down their computers. With Resume, this is now a thing of the past.

You can also start on a clean slate if you so choose.

Auto Save and Versions

This is big. Very big.

Imagine working on a thesis for the past 10 hours only to have your computer crash on you… and you did not save. That’s all I need to talk about Auto Save.

Versions rides on Auto Save by giving you a visual timeline of your previous versions of your documents. It’s like Time Machine, except it’s for your documents. Two things really stand out, and that’s the ability to do manual snapshots (meaning you are not limited to Auto Save’s saving timeframe/quirks) and the ability to lock (meaning you prevent can auto-saving from happening).

Also, you can create a duplicate of your document with just a click — now you do that either by creating a copy in the folder window, or by saving as the document.

Why is this significant? Working on documents are going to get a lot easier. A case in point: I have in my computer a folder with 6 documents titled Proposal v1, Proposal v1.1, Proposal v2… you get the idea. And it’s not just about having multiple documents; imagine if I wanted to compare between versions! Granted, Versions don’t allow for multiple version comparison since I can only see the current one and another dated one, but the ease of movement between the various Versions sort of make up for it.

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Versions. Image source: Apple.com

Furthermore, with Auto Save, one cannot use the excuse of not saving (and having the computer crash) for late submission of work. Bummer.

AirDrop

Imagine working with your colleagues around a table and you need to get a file to them. What do you do? Pass around a flash drive? Or maybe email them? Maybe you’d IM them instead.

AirDrop aims to solve this by allowing Macs running AirDrop (meaning OS X Lion, unless Apple makes this an app upgrade for non-Lion users) send files wirelessly using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Wi-Fi. It’s just drag-and-drop and there’s no setup needed.

Why is this significant? File transfer just got a lot easier. And I can save on flash drives. If one can AirDrop multiple recipients at the same time, AirDrop becomes a great way to transfer documents during meetings or in the classroom. Also, because this works P2P Wi-Fi, no network is needed; one does not need an internet or local connection.

Mail

Honestly, I don’t use Mail. Instead, I use Sparrow and am loving it so far. However, two things might move me back to Mail: searching and Conversations.

Searching in Mail just got smarter because I can now type multiple search word/topics (which Apple calls search tokens) to drill down to a specific mail. Furthermore, Mail contextualizes my search to separate between people, topics, locations etc.

We’ve all seen mails bounce around and soon there’s multiple threads running inside the mail with all those colored lines and indentation, as well as repeated text (quotes). Conversations are Apple’s take on threaded mails. What Conversations does is to separate out the replies into individual snippets, which makes reading and following the mail much easier.

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Conversations. Image source: Apple.com

Why is this significant? Searching emails were always a problem for me, and it doesn’t help that there are a lot of mail to search through. The new search functions make managing my emails much easier. Conversations on the other hand make managing multiple mails in the same thread a lot easier, and prettier.

I might just go back to Mail after all.

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That’s all for part 2! Keep a lookout for part 3 covering iCloud, and if you’ve missed part 1 on iOS 5, here’s the link.

As an endnote, allow me to quote Shawn Blanc on OS X Lion:

Lion is the the world’s most beautiful and simple operating system.

You can read more about his take on the WWDC 2011 Keynote here.

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Further readings:

Apple’s OS X Lion product page

*PCWorld: What (Else) Prevents You From Upgrading to Lion?

**PCWorld: Apple’s Lion isn’t for Everybody

PCWorld: Mac OS X Lion: What You Need to Know

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Part 1 on iOS 5 can be found here, and a followup article about OS X Lion can be found here.