Mac OS X Mountain Lion – A Comprehensive Review

Mountain Lion is finally here. On Wednesday, Mac users worldwide were able to go on the Mac App Store and download Mac OS X Mountain Lion. After spending most of the day downloading and installing the software, I must say that it is a little too reminiscent of iOS. It’s sort of like a situation of, “if it smells, walks, and looks like a cat, then it’s a cat”. While Mountain Lion isn’t iOS, it surely looks like it. Here’s our in-depth review of the software.

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Saying that downloading Mountain Lion wasn’t a walk in the park is a bit of an understatement. It’s safe to say that a majority of individuals who downloaded Mountain Lion encountered at least one problem or even just a minor annoyance. Various Mac users I contacted have told me problems they have encountered, ranging from downloads stalling to error messages popping up in various places. My personal experience wasn’t desirable either.

After downloading Mountain Lion from the App Store, I immediately encountered a message saying that the app couldn’t be downloaded. However, I still had the window open allowing me to continue on to install. I used my better judgement and went along to install, ignoring the message, and it downloaded successfully. Chances are, if I clicked “retry”, the two hour download would have restarted.

To minimize the possibility of this occurring, take a look at our guide to preparing your system for Mountain Lion.

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Ultimately, Mountain Lion is an OS that looks and feels more like iOS than ever. If you are an iOS user, you will probably love the integration. The new features, including Reminders, Notes, and the Notification Center, really makes the daily iOS user feel at home.

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From the Reminders and Notes, syncing items between your Mac and iOS device is now easier than ever. When I was creating a grocery list on Notes, I went on FaceTime to converse over a final list. That list was then made available on my iPad, where I was able to make off (in conjunction with Reminders) what needed to get purchased. Mountain Lion creates a nice marriage between iOS and OS X.

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The first major change we see in preferences is Notifications. This should be one of the first places you go to when you load up Mountain Lion. Notification Center will be one of the most useful parts of OS X as a way of unifying all of the notifications that occur on your Mac.

Notification’s section in preferences allows you to automatically view the Notification Center supported programs on your Mac, allowing you to set whether a badge, banner, or alert pops up when needed. In the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars section, you’ll be able to see all of the new services that is supported. The new services supported includes Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr and the various Chinese social networks newly supported on Mountain Lion.

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Lastly, and one part that I’m having a bit of fun in, is the Dictation and Speech section. This has been one of the most useful and used features of Mountain Lion I have been making use of.

First off, I have been trying out Dictation. So far, I’ve used it with typing out emails, tweets, and iMessages. However, I will certainly try out the ultimate test, dictating a whole article, out very soon. I now have my left Command key dedicated to Dictation, making me only two Command taps away from dictating anything.

In terms of text to speech, we have a couple of new voices and even some new downloadable voices, including many new international ones (from German to Turkish and many others in between). Other than speaking text, these voices also come into use when I enabled having my Mac announce a new notification.

It’s nice to have your Mac tell you what new email you received while brushing your teeth in the morning, allowing you to decipher the important notifications from the mundane ones. New notification that I received a retweet, ignored, new notification from the editor, answered!

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As with anything brought out by Apple, with software at least, there are little secrets that can be found within the software. Most of the time, they are either added in the final version, too small to make a mention, or a less focused on portion of a larger feature.

  • The first hidden feature of Mountain Lion is the ability to update your contacts with Twitter information. This is a feature previously seen in iOS 5, but now with Twitter (and Facebook in the fall) integrated into OS X Mountain Lion, you now have this ability in Mountain Lion.
  • To upload multiple photos to Flickr or through Twitter, you can use the Finder folder workaround by finding the photo in Finder, highlighting them all, and right-clicking to click Share, and select the service. This is perfect when you don’t want to deal sharing directly on the website.
  • After a full two days of reporting on Mountain Lion, I will certainly need a break tomorrow. To have a break from getting notifications in Notification Center, simply click Options while clicking the Notification Center symbol at the top right. When greyed, it’s disabled, when black, it’s active. To make active, click Option and the symbol again. If you forget to turn it back on, no worries, it’s only deactivated for the day.

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In terms of everything being streamlined, this is seen even in Safari. Gone is the search bar, now merging with the address bar. Even after having Mountain Lion for this long, it’s taking some time to get used to this. One thing you should know is that, until the address bar recognizes a domain name (.com, .co, .net etc), it will automatically take your word as a Google search. Individuals can now make use of Game Center, allowing them to keep track of their points and gain more on their Mac.

I personally feel that Mountain Lion has added many features that make life on Mac a lot easier. This wasn’t an OS that was feature filled, more of an OS that delivered improvements. In terms of centralizing notifications, Notification Center was created. As a way of having your stuff available everywhere, digitally at least, iCloud is available in more places on your Mac.

Mountain Lion is available today on the Mac App Store for $19.99.