Mac OS X Lion

With the arrival of iOS5, I finally decided to make the change to Mac OS X Lion and although I had to make some adjustments afterwards, the whole thing went quite smoothly.

“Relax, I got this”

First up, the installation process. I fired up the install file and it stated that it needed about half an hour to finish. So I went on with my chores (like bathing the kid and preparing dinner) and about half an hour later I peeked and there it was the new and improved login screen ready to be used.

The obligatory warning about the reverse scrolling thingy was up but in my case, as previously stated, it didn’t bother me… at all.

First impressions

The upgrade process was quite painless. My documents and apps were all there ready to be used and apparently nothing was affected by the process of changing to Mac OS X Lion (10.7), including my macbook’s speed and responsiveness. Some people have reported that Lion has transformed their macs into sluggish machines but I’m glad that my previous ward speed upgrade was good enough to make the change to Lion without compromising performance.

I love the new look and feel of Lion and especially the way it resembles iOS. Since I’m also an iPhone and iPad user, the way the two operating systems merge actually feels natural when switching between devices. This makes the whole Apple experience even more interesting.

Is the screen bigger or are you just happy to see me?

With Lion came full-screen apps and for my 13-inch Macbook this upgrade was very much appreciated. Now that there’s no waste in screen real-estate, the screen actually looks bigger and I feel like I got a new machine. And since switching between apps has become so simple with the new gestures, full-screen apps are really a great addition to the Mac OS. The only problem is that I now get really annoyed when a third-party app doesn’t have full-screen support.

Now that you mentioned gestures…

…yep, the new gestures in Lion are great but there’s one particular gesture that was ruined for me. I got used to using the three-finger right swipe to go back on the browser and other apps (like Finder, Twitter and others…). Since changing between spaces is now done through that three-finger swipe, to get access to that previous behaviour you now have to add the Option key to the swipe.

Talking about annoyances…

…what about NTFS? Sure, Lion has native NTFS support but only for reading not writing, which makes sharing an NTFS drive between a Mac and a Windows machine a real hassle. But worry not, as in most things, it is most likely that someone has already had the same problem on the Internet as you have and this case is no exception: I present you a free solution for getting NTFS working on Lion. I tried it, it works like a charm.

Other annoyances and their solutions

TRIM Native Support also comes with Lion but alas only to Apple-branded SSDs, which is quite ridiculous considering how easy it is to change that. Do not use this previously-mentioned solution since it is not adequate for Lion.

Lion is now a full 64 bit operating system and if your Mac is recent, Lion will boot in 64 bit mode. This is painless for most cases but for particular cases like my own, in which I’m stuck to using the Cisco VPN Client that only works in 32 bit mode, this becomes a problem. Sure, there’s a simple solution: when you boot your Mac just hold the keys “2″ and “3″ at the same time and it will boot in 32 bit mode. But if you want a more permanent solution (or simply because you can’t get around to remember pressing 3 and 2 every time your mac boots) here’s an hack for that. I tried it and works just fine and my VPN is now working on Lion.

Lion also introduced a new mechanism, called Local Snapshots, that keeps copies of files that you create so as to act as a local Time Machine. Considering that these backups are placed in the same disk as the original files, they do not constitute a reliable backup solution. Plus, it fills up your disk and sometimes it will feel like the computer is sluggish (especially if you have a slower hard disk solution) because it is updating those backups. If you feel like this is not that useful for you (because you have a regular backup solution like Time Machine already working) you can turn it off. But this is a decision that only you can make since it may involve loosing information that is important to you. I recommend reading this post on this subject since it is quite complete and very well explained.

More hints on Mac OS X Lion (10.7)

If you need to know more, Macworld has a great compilation of 10.7-related hints here. Enjoy!

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