My 5 Favorite New Features in OSX Lion

Ben Bajarin / July 25th, 2011

After spending some time working with Apple’s new operating system OSX Lion, I’ve landed on my top five favorite new features. Now granted, everyone uses computers differently. So for me and my computing habits these are the ones that lie at the heart of my upgraded experience.

Auto Correct

There are actually a number of very good new features for writing and typing. My personal favorite is a new and improved auto-correction feature that, like iOS, will fix a misspelled word or typo for you as you type.


Once a word is fixed a blue dotted line appears just under the corrected word to let you know it was fixed. This allows you to go back and edit the word if the in line edit was not what you wanted.

I type and write quite a bit and not having to backspace several times every sentence is extremely useful. Now that I have adjusted to the improved auto correction feature, I feel as though I can type more freely and clearly.

One other feature around text that I am coming to appreciate is the built in dictionary and contextual word search. You can highlight any word you see and right click with a mouse or triple tap on the trackpad to bring up a dictionary as well as contextual word search and wikipedia of the word.

Spotlight

I use spotlight for nearly everything. I do not have a very organized desktop nor do I organize my files very well so Spotlight saves me a huge amount of time. Primarily because although I don’t know where my files are most of the time I do remember the files name. I use Spotlight for more than just files but for programs as well.

The biggest edition to Spotlight that I absolutely love is called Quick Look Results. What this does is allow you to mouse over any of the Spotlight results and to the left of the Spotlight results drop down appears a quick view preview of the actual file. This way if you have multiple files similarly named or just want to make sure the result is the exact file you were looking for you can now see a quick preview before opening.

Another edition to Spotlight that i’m finding quite useful is the ability to drag and drop the file anywhere on your computer right from the Finder results.

Mail

I am a big Mail user and I have been for quite some time. I never could get used to Microsoft Entourage and even when they launched Outlook for Mac I still preferred Mail. Threaded messages, smart folders, integration with iCal and more were what had me hooked. So naturally I was quite pleased with many of the upgrades to Mail.

The upgrades to Mail’s search capabilities have to be my favorite new feature. Like my needs to search for files often with Spotlight, I also need to search for emails frequently. I don’t always remember the details of who a specific message is from, I only vaguely remember important things. The last upgrade Apple made to Mail helped be a good bit in this department but the latest upgrade to search has made it even faster and less work to find the email desired.

This is because of an advanced filtering process called search tokens. Search tokens let you filter your search down each step of the way and quickly narrows any and all search results until voila, you find exactly what you are looking for.

I’ve used the threaded messages options in Mail but the newest feature Conversations takes it to a whole new level. This has been fantastic because I tend to have very long conversations through email. By being able to see all the conversations organized and threaded in the same window pane has been a joy to use.

Mission Control

When Apple added Expose to OSX I became an Expose junkie. I keep many applications open frequently and I multi-task jumping between them all just as frequently. Expose drastically improved my work flow efficiency. Mission Control is the next step is multi-tasking efficiency and it certainly lives up to its name. I particularly like how Mission Control organizes all your applications and keep your desktop, dashboard and other workspaces at the top of the screen always accessible.

One of the more enhanced elements of Mission Control that is not possible with Expose is the laying of windows on top of applications. If you have multiple windows open from the same application, Mission Control layers the images on top of each other and allows you to select which you are trying to get to.

Auto Save and Application Resume

Most modern applications have some level of document recovery but Auto Save in OSX Lion makes the process standard. Not having to worry about whether or not a document is saved or work is going to get lost certainly eliminates some of the distraction to work efficiently.

Application resume is another great feature that is built into OSX Lion. This features lets you close an application and upon re-opening you are right where you left off. One of the areas where this is particularly useful is with Safari. I like to leave tabs open with some of my most frequented websites and being able to open Safari and have all my tabs re-open with my favorite websites or the last ones open has been extremely useful.

I’m sure as I use Lion more I will find more features that I love but for now those are my top 5. I’d be curious what those who have Lion think and what your top 5 new features are?

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
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