Reader Tim Kisanuki is a bit late to the party and is unsure what to expect when he arrives. He writes:
I’ve been running Snow Leopard on my iMac since it was released. I’m finally ready to upgrade to Mountain Lion. Before I do, can you tell me about any serious problems or odd behaviors I might encounter?
I recently moved one of my Macs that remained on Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion so the experience is fresh in my mind. The few things that popped out at me soon after I restarted with my freshly installed version of the Mac OS include:
Rosetta: The deal-killer for many is the lack of Rosetta support—the technology that allows you to run PowerPC applications on an Intel processor. Rosetta isn’t part of Mountain Lion and can’t be added. If you have some old applications that you can’t live without (AppleWorks, for example) you’ll want to stay right where you are. I stopped using PowerPC applications years ago, understanding that the end was in sight for them, so this wasn’t a problem for me.
If you do have a lot of PowerPC applications but don’t use them, it’s likely you’ll see them cluttering up your Applications folder. They’re doing no harm, but you might want to trash them to free up some space. They’re denoted by a gray circle with a line through it (the universal sign for “nuh uh”). If you sort your applications by date created most of them will float to the top of the list, making it easier to spot them.
The scrolling thing: With Lion, Apple reversed the scrolling direction so that it would match the direction on iOS devices. I find this more “natural” (as Apple terms it) on a trackpad, but it makes no sense to me with a mouse’s scroll wheel. I’ve elected to put it back the way it was by disabling the natural scroll setting in the Trackpad and Mouse system preferences.
Scroll bars: Speaking of scrolling, scroll bars look different. Those clickable arrow icons above and below scroll bars are gone. And, depending on the input device you’re using, scroll bars may not always be visible. You can make them visible at all times within the General system preference.
Save As: Within those applications that support iCloud syncing (the iWork applications, TextEdit, and Preview), the Save As command is hidden. In its place you see the Duplicate command. But you can invoke that command by holding down the Option key and then clicking on the File menu—Save As now replaces Duplicate. (You can also invoke it by pressing Shift-Command-Option-S.)
As I explained last year, Mountain Lion’s Save As command isn’t what it once was. However, thanks to the 10.8.2 update, you can easily restore its old behavior. We’ll use TextEdit as an example.
Launch TextEdit and create a new document. Type something and save and name your document. Now enter some more text and choose the Save As command. In the Save sheet that appears, uncheck the Keep Changes In Original Document option if it’s enabled. Save your document and you’ll find that Save As works as it once did—the original file will be saved up to the point of the last full Save (rather than Save As) and the document you just created will contain all the text that you’ve entered up to this point.
Once you’ve unchecked this option, you needn’t do so again as the setting sticks. You will, however, have to disable this option for other applications that support this new Save As scheme. Again, note that this Save As behavior applies only to those applications that use iCloud syncing. The Save As command is visible and works just as it always has in other applications.
All My Files: By default, Mountain Lion opens windows in the All My Files view. This view was designed with newbies and iOS users in mind. For those of us with a load of files, it’s darned near useless. To open your windows by default in a different view, choose Finder > Preferences and in the resulting window click on the New Finder Windows Show pop-up menu and choose a more helpful view (your Home or Documents folder, for example).
Gatekeeper: If you’re accustomed to installing applications that you’ve acquired from here, there, and everywhere, you’ll likely bump up against an instance where you’re told you can’t install a particular app. And you can’t because of Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper settings—a feature designed to prevent you from installing diseased software. Jason Snell has extensively explained the ins and outs of Gatekeeper so I needn’t repeat his work here.
If you’re prevented from installing something you’d like to, there are two ways out. The first is to go to the Security & Privacy system preference, click the lock icon at the bottom of the window, enter an administrator’s user name and password, and then change the Allow Applications Downloaded From setting to Anywhere. But this exposes you to potentially funky software.
The easier this-time-only option is to simply Control-click (right-click) on the application and choose Open from the menu that appears. You’ll see a warning but also an Open button. Click that button and the application will launch (and you won’t be bugged about it again).
Spotlight indexing: I have scads of files scattered across a lot of hard drives and Spotlight has to create an index of all those files. This can take a Very. Long. Time. (We’re talking days rather than hours.) However, unlike with some previous versions of OS X, you can still use Spotlight as well as the Finder’s Find command while Spotlight prepares its index, though the results you get may not be complete.
Application updates: Notification Center is something I’ve grown to like save for one annoyance—the inability to completely dismiss notifications of Mac App Store software updates. Sure, you can drag the notification to the right and it will disappear for a few minutes, but it returs once those few minutes have expired. The only way to make the thing go away once and for all is to bow to its will and update your software. For new users this is probably a good thing as they may not understand how vital some updates are (security updates, in particular). But a “go away for heaven’s sake” option for the rest of us would be nice.
Outlook: There are far more people who don’t use Microsoft Outlook as their email client than do, but this one cost me two minutes of head scratching before I tumbled to it. When I launched Outlook after the OS upgrade, none of my email or accounts appeared. And they didn’t because Outlook, in its very finite wisdom, creates a new email database after such an upgrade.
At first I thought I could simply import my old email messages and accounts, but that’s not an option unless you’ve previously saved an archive in the very specific format that Outlook understands (which I hadn’t). After groaning a bit, the light came on. All you have to do is quit Outlook, relaunch it while holding down the Option key, and in the Microsoft Database Utility window that appears, select your previous identity (it should be called Main Identity [Backed Up somedate]). From the Tools menu choose Set as Default and then click through any confirmation messages that appear. When you next launch Outlook, all your old stuff will be there.
Have a question of your own for Mac 911? Send it my way care of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated to include information about the Save As command.