10 Mountain Lion features to know, and 1 change you didn’t notice


Apple Inc.’s new Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, comes with more than 200 new features, which can make it slightly intimidating. But don’t fret. With time, you’ll learn many of them, and for now, just focus on its best features.

Here are 10 of the coolest new additions to Apple’s Mac OS X. Check them out, and point out any we’ve missed in our comments below.



By far my favorite new feature, Messages replaces iChat, and with it comes all the functionality of iMessages, which lets you send free SMS-like messages to and from most Internet-connected Apple devices. This also includes pictures and other types of files, including documents and videos. Now, you can send a message from an iPod Touch to an iPad and log in on your Mountain Lion-enabled Mac and see the conversation. And just like with iMessage on an iPhone, Messages on Mountain Lion will also support group messaging.

This isn’t the first time text messaging has been brought to desktops or laptops, but it is the first time by Apple, which carries significant weight. You won’t be able to message others on devices that don’t support iMessage, but with the feature being supported on so many Apple products nowadays, there’s a chance your point of contact will have some device on which you can reach them.

Twitter Integration

Twitter isn’t new to the Apple ecosystem -- it’s been a part of iOS since the iPhone 4S landed in October. But it is new to Mac OS X, and it’s arrival is much welcomed. With Mountain Lion, you can now make Twitter a main part of your regular computer functions. The new operating system lets you tweet directly from Notification Center as well as many of the system’s apps -- whether it be pictures in Photob Booth or links from Safari. And Notification Center will also alert you when you get mentions or other Twitter activity.

But the integration doesn’t stop there. As Wired points out, you can also add your contacts’ Twitter handles to Address Book, where you can pull up their latest tweets. There aren’t many barriers left between your computer and Twitter.



Like the iPad before it, Mountain Lion is bringing Dictation to the Mac, and with it comes a speedier way to produce text. Sure, you may want to do this within the confines of a private space as to avoid looking like a weirdo talking to your computer, but if you do have that luxury, you can spare yourself from carpal tunnel syndrome a little longer by speaking to your Mac, which will convert it to text.

Dictation doesn’t come turned on in Mountain Lion, but you can quickly change that by going to System Preferences and clicking Dictation and Speech. From there click on the Dictation tab, and there you can turn the feature on. It isn’t quite Siri, but it’s a start.

Updated Safari

If you don’t use Safari as your main browser, Mountain Lion may change your mind about that. Apple is supercharging its browser with more features that make it better as well as ultra-compatible with your mobile devices when iOS 6 is released this year.

Safari has finally gotten with the program and dropped its dedicated search bar in exchange for a single text field that you can use for search or URLs just like on all your other addresses. Another new feature now lets you see all your open tabs in an Expose-like view similar to how tabs are displayed on the iPhone version of Safari.

As far as playing well with your other devices, Mountain Lion’s Safari comes with the Reading List feature already present on iOS that will let you read articles on the browser when you’re offline. The feature also syncs among your devices. Another feature that helps with syncing is iCloud Tabs. Though this feature won’t be helpful until iOS 6 launches, iCloud Tabs will let you check out all the tabs you have open on Safari apps across your devices, so you could take a page from Safari on the iPad and launch it on your Mac.


Notification Center

After finding success on iOS 5, Apple is bringing its Notification Center to the Mac as well. Notification Center will flash you updates for Twitter, your Calender and various other apps. The feature will add a new icon to the top-right corner of the interface, which you can click to show the Notification Center, although you can also do that by swiping to the left on your trackpad. But if all the notifications start to bother you, you can also turn them off with a toggle at the top when you scroll up.


Notes is another feature that’s new to Macs but old to the world of Apple. Notes will be leaping from iOS, and with it, of course, comes synchronization among your devices. Now when you make changes to a note on your iPhone, you will see the same on your iPad and Mac and vice versa. This already occurred between the iPhone and iPad, but the Mac’s introduction into the circle is welcomed.

Although this kind of synchronization among note apps is already possible via services like Evernote and Simplenote, Notes is the native Apple app, so that naturally makes it an easy fit. And Notes is evolving from being just a simple text app to more with Mountain Lion as you can now copy and paste many forms of content into the app, including pictures from the Web, as Gizmodo showcases.

New Screen Savers


This feature isn’t amazing, but who doesn’t like cool screen savers? Mountain Lion brings with it several new screen savers for your computer borrowed from Apple TV. Check them out and pick one, or simply leave scrolling among all the screen savers available by checking “Use random screen saver” in the “Desktop & Screen Saver” portion of System Preferences.

AirPlay Mirroring

And while we’re on the topic of Apple TV, another cool new feature that Apple TV users will enjoy is AirPlay Mirroring. This feature lets you display your computer’s screen on any TV connected to your Apple TV device. This, again, isn’t revolutionary, but it does eliminate the need for cables if you want to watch your computer’s media on your TV or if you simply need to give a presentation but want to move around with your MacBook.

TextEdit with iCloud

Mountain Lion by default will save your TextEdit files to iCloud. This will help you in organizing your files as well as accessing them from other computers. For many users who just use Pages or Word, this may not be that helpful, but if you’re like me and simply like to use plain text editors, this feature will come in handy.

Chess with your friends


And as pointed out by Wired, perhaps the simplest yet most gratifying new feature to Mountain Lion is Chess’s inclusion to Game Center, which is new to OS X. Now, you can play Chess with other users online through Game Center. No longer do you have to play against a computer or hunch over the same screen with a friend for multiplayer action. A worthy change indeed.
The change you didn’t notice

So those are cool new features, but one thing you probably didn’t notice that may give you a little sadness or some sort of emotional spark is this: Apple has changed the OS X dock. You can see this if you head to Apple’s main page for Mountain Lion right at the top (and for comparison, here’s a shot of Lion’s dock).

The new dock is a little rounder and less translucent. Apps’ reflections are also blurred compared with previous OS X versions, which show solid reflections. And another change in the dock is the line dividing your apps and your trash can. It’s no longer a bulky set of dashes but rather a thin, solid line.

So those are some of the best new features on Mountain Lion, but share your favorites below.


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