Mountain Lion tips and tricks

Mountain Lion has arrived and with more upgrades than Pamela Anderson’s front half, getting to the bottom of what’s new isn’t exactly easy. There are more than 200 new features in Mountain Lion, many of which are pretty much straightforward, say Notification Center for example. If you fancy learning about those, then check out our extensive review.

This is more about discovering the tweaks and tricks of Mountain Lion, cool little features that you might never have come across had you not read this. So read on and discover the hidden delights that OS X 10.8 has in store.

Enable keyboard shortcut for Notification Center

One of the first tweaks you are going to want to make to Mountain Lion is to enable the keyboard shortcut for Notification Center. Go into keyboard in the system preferences menu and hit keyboard shortcuts.

From here simply tick the Notification Center shortcut box and enter whatever key combination you like. This way you can now quickly pop open the slide-out notification tray while still typing. Great for glancing at emails.

Enter your Twitter details

Might seem a bit obvious we know, but OS X 10.8 has some very deep-running Twitter integration which is really worth setting up. Again, simply go into the system preferences menu and hit accounts, from here just add a Twitter account.

Tweet from Notification Center

You should now find that when opening the Notification Center, a Twitter icon and Click to Tweet appears at the top of it. Does exactly what you imagine it would. Lets you Tweet from within Notification Center.

Tweet from pretty much anywhere

As well as having Notification Center integration, Twitter can also be used pretty much anywhere else. All you have to do is right click on something that is shareable, say a web page or link, and then highlight share. This will then give you the option to Tweet about it.

Take a look at the new dock

For those who like to keep their dock at the bottom of the OS X then you're in for a treat. The update brings with it a new-look shiny yet reflective dock. It’s still pretty understated but nice to see a change to an OS X staple.

Enable auto download of purchases

Pretty straightforward this one but very useful none the less. Go into the App Store and and hit Store on the taskbar. From here click auto download purchases from other Macs. There you go, iPhone style auto updating.

Double tap date bar to zip to top of email

Does what it says on the tin here, really. Tap twice at the top of your email and the text will scroll up to the top, just like on iOS. You can also go to the top of your mail queue by double tapping the sort by text.

Explore new tab view in Safari

Safari got a big update with Mountain Lion, doing away with the search box and unifying everything into one single bar. It also got quicker and has a brand new tabs view. You can pull this up quickly by just two-finger pinching out.

Send an iMessage directly within contacts

iMessage is not integrated straight into the contacts app so you can just find the person you want to talk to and ping text or photos straight to their iMessage address.

Checkout new screensavers and backgrounds

Like every OS X update there is a load of new screensavers thrown in for good measure. Looking like the photo screen of Apple TV, these new screensavers source images from things like National Geographic and look truly stunning.

Another cool feature is that for Retina Mac Pros there are some very high-res desktop backgrounds.There is even a PhotoStream-connected screensaver.

Pin a note to your desktop

The Notes app will let you pin a note to the desktop permanently so you can edit it as you see fit.

Put widgets into folders

Four-finger swipe to the right until you bring up the grey widgets dashboard view and then hit the plus sign at the bottom left of the screen. If you have a lot of widgets, you can drag and drop them into folders, iOS style.

Mail VIPs

This is particularly useful if you get a lot of emails but only a few are from people you really need to keep in touch with. Right click on a person’s address in mail and you should see the option to add them to VIP. They will then get their own special inbox and emails from them will appear with a star next to their name.

Rename document in title bar

Any document you are editing in things like TextEdit can be renamed straight from the title bar. Single click it and then hit rename and there you go.

Preview with three fingered tap

Preview, typically the reserve of the space bar, can now also be activated using a three fingered tap.

Drag and drop anything into notes

It might look the same as the notes app on iOS, but the Mountain Lion version has a few clever tricks up its sleeve. One of the main things is that you can drag and drop all sorts into it and it will instantly create a note.

iCloud and textedit

iCloud is now integrated into TextEdit, making it an easy way of sharing any sort of document between Mac computers and other devices. When you save just make sure you save the relevant document to your iCloud folders.

Double tap function to use dictation (needs enabling)

If you head into the the Dictation and Speech pane in the System Preferences then you can enable dictation within Mountain Lion.

Click use the fn button to enable dictation and then you can do pretty much that. Any app or box you can type in, simply say what you want and OS X should do the rest. You do need internet access to get it working, however.

Turn on do not disturb in Notification Center

Either open Notification Center and then scroll down to reveal the toggle on / off switch - or easier than that, Option+click on the Notification Center icon in the menu bar. It will go light grey to show it is turned off.

Option+click on the menu bar

Doing this on the volume icon will let you quickly switch to Apple TV as an output for audio. Very useful if you fancy playing something back through bigger speakers. Battery icon will indicate battery health and Bluetooth will show you more details about your Bluetooth connection.

Two-finger swipe for Notification Center

To reveal Notification Center swipe two fingers from physically off your trackpad on to it. It takes a bit of practice but becomes a very useful way to check your emails and Twitter notifications.

Share via Quick Look

Opening up Quick Look on a file will allow you to share things like images and files quickly. Just hit the export icon and then you should be offered a choice of things such as Twitter, Flickr or even AirDrop.

Turn off download control

OS X Mountain Lion came with a useful if annoying at times feature whereby it controlled what sort of items you could download to your Mac. You can turn this off by going into Security and Privacy in system settings and clicking Allow applications downloaded from anywhere.

Turn on Powernap

Mountain Lion enables your Mac to update itself while asleep so when you turn it back on everything is fresh and up to date. Do this in the Energy Saving pane of preferences by enabling Powernap.

Get rid of location services for apps

Another useful one should you fancy keeping your Mac particularly secure. In system preferences you can kill location services for all apps.

Fix the scrolling

The natural scrolling found in Mountain Lion and Lion can be a bit off-putting for those used to using their Macs in different ways. Thankfully it can be turned off within the Trackpad part of the System Preferences menu. Simply uncheck the box that says natural scrolling.

Mini calendars in Calendar app

Just click on the Calendar button on the right-hand side of the app to reveal month views, drag the mini calendars up to reveal more months.

Adding location prompts to Reminders

Reminders can now be customised so that when you arrive or leave a meeting it will, well, remind you of something according to your location.

Offline reading list

Items read in Safari can be stored and saved for viewing offline later in Safari simply by clicking on the glasses icon in the top left of the app.

Force power down

Say your Mac has crashed, or the spinning beach ball just wont go away, hold down command, option and shift and the entire thing will force itself into a power down. 

Any other cool new features you have found? Let us know in the comments below ... 



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