Other New Changes of Lion
Besides the iOS-inspired features in OS X Lion the operating system has a lot of additions that are based on previous unique features of the OS X ‘family’. Others are unique to Lion and have never been seen in any other form before. All of these features have one in common; they are all quite radical changes and all are slightly confusing.
Just like some of the iOS-like changes, these aspects have a learning curve, making them slightly less attractive for new or the less tech-savvy users. However, all serve a new purpose that is aimed to make you even more productive with OS X Lion. We had a close look at these features as well and explain how they work and how to properly use them!
Mission Control is perhaps the biggest and most obvious alteration to OS X. What is does is bring many of Snow Leopards’ separate features, such as exposé and spaces overview together in one new feature. Mission control aims to give the user a quick glance of everything that is currently going on his Mac computer. Not only does it show all the open windows, which is what exposé used to do, it also shows all the spaces on the top of the screen.
As such, the idea is that the user can make quick alterations within the mission control screen. Applications can quickly be dragged from one space to the other and the user can now scroll between spaces without leaving Mission Control and its exposé-like overview of apps. These changes will be very confusing for those coming from Snow Leopard but new users should not find it too difficult to adjust.
As mentioned before, there are some gesture actions that are very specific for mission control. These are the following:
Enlarging a single window or spreading a cluster of windows is easily done by two-finger swiping in an upward motion. Additionally, and although not a gesture, using the space bar when highlighting a specific window will allow you to have a ‘quick look’ at it.
Switching between spaces in mission control is the same as when on the desktop and is done by three-finger swiping left or right.
Mission control can be exited by three-finger swiping downward.
Spaces has always been a feature that set OS X apart from Windows and with Lion its role as a productivity enhancement feature has been further extended. However, Spaces has also been made much more complicated to understand and even use.
As mentioned before, Spaces has taken a central spot in your operating system and can be altered within the mission control panel. This way of interacting with Spaces has come at a cost, as the classic spaces overview window is no more in Lion. The confusing part of the new Spaces, is what exactly counts as a Space. This needs some further explanation:
- Dashboard is by default a space instead of simply an overlay, as it was on Snow Leopard. This might be confusing or even annoying for some but can be changed back to its original behavior. In system preferences select ‘Mission Control’ and deselect ‘Show Dashboard as a Space’.
- Another new feature in Lion are full screen applications. Now certain applications can take up all the desktop space, so that the dock and title bar are not visible anymore. Third party developers do not universally support this feature yet, however. Nevertheless, in all cases, full screen applications are by themselves a space.
- A new space can be added in the Mission Control panel by simply moving your mouse to the top-right corner and select the ‘plus’ sign.
You should be aware that any type of space, whether it is in the traditional or one of the above-mentioned forms, behaves as a space. So when you are swiping through spaces, a full screen app or dashboard will be accessible through this motion as well.
Versions and Auto-Save
‘Versions’ is sort of like the Time Machine of individual files. This new Lion feature saves a version of a document when opening it and after every hour of work. The idea is that at any time, the user can access its past and saved versions to make alterations. It is meant as an extra layer of security.
The confusing part of Versions is that instead of ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ the user is now asked to ‘Save a Version’. A similar effect can be reached by selecting ‘CMD+S’ on your keyboard. Since not all applications are yet OS X Lion optimized, some will still allow for ‘old-fashioned’ saving, causing the feature not to be very unified. You can browse through the various versions of a document by clicking on the title and select ‘Browse All Versions’.
A similar new feature is Auto-Save, which allows for supported applications to save your work every five minutes. This feature does not need too much further information.
Resume is the last of the major new OS X Lion features. Just like with the other new features, Resume is a bit hard to understand at first and is also not yet universally used by all native and third-party applications alike. Although Resume is not placed under the ‘iOS-like features’ header, it does share some resemblance from the mobile OS.
Resume, in combination with Versions and Auto-Save, makes an application continue straight where it left off, even after the application is shut down. As a matter of fact, the entire method of closing an application is changed as it does not matter now whether the app is properly closed or not, it will always resume. As a result, applications that support Resume are never entirely closed, but retired into some sort of hibernation mode. Resume is a feature that cannot be controlled in any way by the user and therefore no on or off switch exists in system preferences.