OS X Mountain Lion is here, and there are lots of new features to learn about. In this video, we take a look at the new options and how to use them.
Watch the video above to get your five minute explanation of the things you need to know about OS X Mountain Lion. If you prefer to read, you'll find a screenshot tour below of all the features demonstrated in the video.
Notification Center gathers all the alerts and messages that pop up on your Mac and saves them into a handy bar on the side of your computer. You can access your notification history by clicking the list icon in the top right corner of the menu bar. If you want to edit your Notification Center settings, go to the Notifications section of System Preferences. You'll be able to decide what kind of notifications individual apps provide, or turn them off entirely.
iCloud (And Documents In The Cloud)
iCloud is not a new feature, but it has been upgraded significantly in Mountain Lion. You'll find the settings in the iCloud section of System Preferences, just as you can in Lion. This is where you'll sign into your iCloud account, manage your storage, and decide what parts of your computer you want to sync. If you turn on "Documents & Data" your documents (including versions of them) will be synced with iCloud, making them available on other iCloud-enabled devices.
Notes and Reminders
Just as in iOS, OS X Mountain Lion offers a Notes and Reminders app. The Notes app lets you save and organise text and images. Reminders allows you to create reminders so you don't forget to do things. Both are pretty self-explanatory, and both sync with iCloud.
Dictation is a welcome feature in Mountain Lion. Basically, if an app can accept text input via the keyboard it can accept input via Dictation. To start dictating, just press the function (fn) key twice. When you've finished, you can click the "done" button or press the function (fn) key twice again. Mountain Lion will take a moment and then provide you with the transcribed text. In addition to words, you can say things like "period" or "comma" for punctuation and "new line" to make a new line.
Messages is the iMessage of OS X. It has been around in beta since Lion and hasn't changed much in Mountain Lion. You can add your iCloud account to sync messages with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, but you still can't receive your iPhone's text messages on your computer. You can set up various instant messaging accounts, however, so Messages on the Mac is a little bit more functional than it is on iOS. That's because it replaces iChat.
Share Sheets makes sharing easy in any app that supports it, though you'll have to wait a while for third-party apps to add it. Safari already allows sharing of sites to Messages, Twitter and email. You can also share directly from the Finder. If you click an image and then the sharing icon in a window's toolbar, you'll be able to share it on Twitter or Flickr. You'll find other options for other file types as well. If you want to set up sharing accounts, visit the Mail, Contacts, & Calendars section of System Preferences.
AirPlay support on your Mac has been enhanced for Apple TV. owners You can now mirror your display on an Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation) with AirPlay if you enable it in Displays section of System Preferences. At the bottom there's a check box beside "Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available". Enable it and you'll be able to send your display to any detected Apple TV via the menu item in your menubar.
Security And Privacy Settings
While the new security and privacy settings in OS X aren't the most flashy or exciting additions, there are some important features worth noting. If you visit the Security & Privacy section of System Preferences you'll find one significant change under the General tab. Under the "Allow applications downloaded from" you'll like find "Mac App Store and identified developers" selected. This will prevent apps that aren't signed through Apple's developer centre or downloaded through the Mac App Store from running. If you want to prevent even more apps from running, you can set only Mac App Store apps to be allowed. Alternatively, you can allow everything so you're not restricted at all.
The Privacy tab features some new privacy settings. This is where you can approve or deny an app's permission to access your contacts, location, or Twitter account. It's a good idea to audit this section occasionally to make sure certain apps don't have access to data you don't want them to see.
Want to learn more? Check out Apple's overview of Mountain Lion's 200+ new features.