Mac OS X Mountain Lion Exploring

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Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Exploring Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionThe Notification Center
Perhaps you just bought a new Macintosh computer that includes Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Or maybe you're thinking about upgrading to Mountain Lion from a previous version of OS X (pronounced O-S Ten). On the other hand, you may be a Windows user who is considering switching to a Mac.
No matter what your situation is, we're going to show you the basics of using OS X Mountain Lion, including some of its new features like iCloud integration for syncing your computer and mobile iOS devices, the Notification Center, access to social networking, and new options for sharing.

What is Mac OS X Mountain Lion?

OS X Mountain Lion (version 10.8) is the most recent operating system designed by Apple and released in 2012. It is generally used with Apple Macintosh computers (Macs). Like other operating systems, it allows you torun programsorganize your filesbrowse the internet, and more.

Although Mountain Lion is new, other versions of Mac OS X have been around for years. Previous versions includeLion (version 10.7), Snow Leopard (version 10.6), Leopard (10.5), and Tiger (10.4). If you are upgrading from OS X Lion, Mountain Lion will be a relatively minor upgrade
Mountain Lion was designed with mobile devices in mind. Many of its new features use iCloud to make it easier to transition between your Mac and your iPad or iPhone. Because iCloud stores your files and syncs your devices, you'll now be able to begin an activity on one device and continue it on another. This means you'll have access to the same web pages, files, and photos from each of your devices.
Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionMac OS X Mountain Lion
An operating system manages all of the hardware and software on a computer. Without it, the computer would be useless. 

OS X Mountain Lion Features

OS X Mountain Lion has added hundreds of new features that make it more convenient to use. Many of these features are designed to make it easier to switch between your Mac and your iPad or iPhone. Below are a few of the most useful updates.
Watch this video from Apple to learn more about OS X Mountain Lion's features.


Notifications

Notifications are pop-upsbanners, and other audio/visual cues that work with the applications on your computer. They're designed to let you know when something needs your attention, or when there's been any recent activity (for example, on Facebook). You can receive notifications three different ways:
  • Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionThe Notification Center
    Notification Center: The Notification Center is where you'll view most of the notifications on your computer. It summarizes new activity rather than alerting you to each item one by one. To open the Notification Center, click the icon in the top right corner of your screen. Then click a notification to view more information about it.
  • Alerts: Alerts can be set up to display a banner orpop-up whenever there's new activity. They impart a little more urgency than the Notification Center, so they might be a good choice for apps that are especially important to you. 
    Screenshot of DockBadge app icon

  • Badge App Icon: The badge app icon is a small red number designed to let you know when there's a notification waiting inside one of your apps. The badge means different things depending on the app. For example, in the App Store, it could mean that you have an update waiting for one of your current apps.
Many applications generate notifications automatically. You'll learn over time which ones do, and which ones don't. To find out how to customize your notifications, visit Lesson 6 of this tutorial, Changing Your Computer's Settings.

Sharing Options

Mountain Lion has included a Share button Left Tab Icon in many of its applications that you may recognize from iOS devices. You can use this button to quickly share photos, videos, websites, and more across a variety of networks—including email, instant messaging, Twitter, and Facebook.
Screenshot of SafariUsing the Share button

Dictation

The dictation tool allows you to speak to fill in any text field to create emails, reminders, or messages. It's important to know that the dictation tool requires an internet connection to send your spoken words to Apple where they are converted and then returned to you as text. You can enable dictation in your System Preferences.
Screenshot of System PreferencesVoice dictation settings

Twitter and Facebook

You can now tweet and receive messages through the Notification Center. OS X Mountain Lion also offers full Facebook integration as of fall 2012—all have to do is sign into Facebook in your System Preferences, and you'll be able to post things to Facebook from almost any app. You can even integrate your Facebook friends with the people you have in the Contacts app.

Additional iOS Features

Mountain Lion has added other popular iOS features like Game CenterReminders, and Messages. You'll be able to enjoy the benefit of iCloud syncing these apps on each of your Apple devices.

Are You Upgrading From an Earlier OS?

If you're upgrading from Snow Leopard or an earlier version of OS X, you should be aware of some features that were introduced in Lion such as Mission Control and Launchpad. Mission Control allows you to view all of the documents and applications that are open, and it also allows you to switch between different virtual desktops. Launchpad makes it easy to launch and manage your applications. To learn about the many other changes and improvements that Lion introduced, visit our OS X Lion tutorial.
Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionMission Control
Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionLaunchpad

Syncing

synced devices
Did you know you can sync your computer with your other devices if you have an iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch?
If you've never heard of syncing before, that's okay. It's designed specifically so you don't have to think about it once you set it up (or do anything special to maintain it). It just happens in the background.
Syncing is what links your Mac to your other Apple devices—and your other devices to each other—so you can access the same content anytime, anywhere. For instance, you could take a photo on your iPad, then view it instantly on your laptop. You could create a to-do list on your work computer, then keep up with it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
Are you starting to see how useful syncing can be? It's a big part of using OS X Mountain Lion if you have more than one Apple device, so it's important that you understand what it means (even if you're not sure how it works yet!). Some content syncs automatically once you set up the applications on your computer. Other types of content will need to be enabled in iCloud.

What is iCloud?

icloud icon
iCloud is a free service from Apple that does many different things. It allows you to store your content "in the cloud" instead of on your computer (which can save you a ton of storage space). But some of its most popular features have to do with syncing.
Imagine being able to start something on your Mac, then pick it back up immediately on a different device. That's the benefit of syncing with iCloud. It aims to connect all your files, information, and other types of content, so you never lose access to the things you love. And it's not just for OS X Mountain Lion; it's for your other Apple devices too.

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