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How Do I Get to Grips with OS X Lion?

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 10/14/2011

If Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is baffling you, or you've been struggling to get to grips with the new features, then worry not - we've got everything you need to get used to the latest release of OS X!

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    Mac OS X Lion has been around for a few months now, and on the whole it has been well-received. However some users have found it a little tough to get used to after the “instant go” experience of Snow Leopard, but this seems to be because Apple has left plenty of feature “Easter eggs” for their customers to uncover.

    All it really takes to find these features is a little bit of exploring, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to start digging around in OS X 10.7 for hidden settings and tools then try the following advanced tips which will help you to “tame the Lion” and get used to Apple’s new OS.

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    Managing Mission Control

    Managing Mission Control Probably the best place to start is with Mission Control, the new tool for managing your Mac desktop. The point of this tool seems to have gone over the head of lots of users, even those used to the similar features of the earlier Exposé. As such, this is the best place to start for anyone looking for some expert tips for Mac Lion.

    This is a powerful tool, however, one which can help you to quickly switch to a different application as well as arrange your running software across multiple desktops.

    For instance, if you had several apps running at once and they were cluttering up the screen, a quick swipe of three fingers up the Trackpad will give you a holistic view of what is going on. You might have several similar pieces of software open, for instance, so you might opt to close one or two of them. Alternatively you might decide to group them together on a separate desktop. Creating a new desktop is a case of clicking the plus symbol in the top-right corner and then dragging the applications to the smaller desktop image at the top of the screen. Simply click the desktop to switch to it!

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    Full Screen Apps

    Among many of the improvements in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion comes the ability to quickly switch between apps with a simple swipe of the Trackpad, much like iOS. Many of the native apps can also be run in full screen mode, allowing you to get a much better view of what’s going on in your calendar or email client.

    Fully screen mode is accessed via the small button in the top-right corner of the app window. Clicking this will cause other windows and the dock to slide out of view, allowing you to focus on the app that you’re using. The full screen app actually positions itself to next to the desktop, so to return you will need to swipe three fingers across the Trackpad to scroll back to the Lion desktop. Multiple full-screen apps are added to the right of the first and you can scroll between these easily using the Trackpad.

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    Uninstall and Reinstalling Apps in the LaunchPad

    Uninstall and Reinstalling Apps in the LaunchPad The LaunchPad offers a powerful new iOS-inspired way to manage your apps, and can be activated by clicking the relevant icon on the Dock or pinching a thumb and three fingers on your TrackPad. Rearranging icons is a case of clicking and dragging, while new folders can be created by dragging one app icon onto another. Folders can be renamed as needed and moved around as easily as the app icons.

    Removing any apps that you have downloaded from the App Store is a case of pressing the Option (or Alt) key until the app icons wiggle and then clicking the X that appears alongside. Reinstalling apps is a case of signing into the App Store and viewing the Purchases tab where you can instruct the software to be downloaded back to your Mac.

    Note that uninstalling apps that were not downloaded via the App Store cannot be downloaded in this manner – most apps will need to be removed with the traditional “drag to Trash” method, while apps like Microsoft Office include uninstaller tools that should be used to remove them.

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    Changing Direction on the Trackpad

    For many users, getting used to the Trackpad might prove to be a bit of a problem. One of the reasons many people avoid laptops is to excuse themselves from having to deal with touchpads, and as the Apple Trackpad is nothing more than a large, multi-function touchpad, you can see how this might be a problem area.

    As you might expect, however, there are ways of reconfiguring this piece of hardware. To access the preferences for the Trackpad open System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom, where you will find a group of settings that can be adjusted and configured as necessary. A common complaint with some people is the reverse control aspect of the default settings – when swiping right on the Trackpad, the content in Mac OS X Lion scrolls to the left, and vice versa. This can be resolved using the Scroll direction: natural checkbox; clearing the check toggles between the two modes.

    You should note that many other Trackpad control options can be enabled and disabled via this preferences window.