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I would like to call for a place to list some little things that surprise you about Lion. There are so many articles and lists of all the new features with information overload, I would rather focus this spot of the site on tiny delights with a note why it makes a difference to you.

Please one topic per answer, this isn't a race to enumerate everything that changed. This isn't the place for massive topics like the implications of FileVault 2 on your entire workflow - just a stroll past some little gems, fun oddities or subtle changes specific to Lion.

Answers must relate to why or how you use the feature - links to official tips and tutorials are great, but the intent is to collect little gems that affect how the system gets used. Expect answers that are not specific to lion or lack a personal use case to be heavily edited or deleted.

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9  
I can't wait until someone wrote "Natural scrolling" as one of the answers... –  Enrico Susatyo Jul 22 '11 at 13:03
7  
@the_great_monkey I will admit to being totally comfortable with "natural scrolling", and I've only been using Lion since Friday. –  CajunLuke Jul 25 '11 at 19:03
2  
@CajunLuke me too, only took me 15 minutes to get used to. –  Enrico Susatyo Jul 26 '11 at 0:06
4  
Natural Scrolling only makes real sense if you use a trackpad, if you try that with a scroll wheel, it drives you nuts :) –  Martín Marconcini Jul 29 '11 at 11:38
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I'm especially happy about the price of Lion ($29.99 upgrade from SnowLeopard), but this isn't worth putting as an answer. –  bneely Feb 8 '12 at 5:42

107 Answers 107

More International Localizations for system Text to Speech

The new text to speech voices included in Lion (or downloadable, post-install) are now no longer US English only - but with many diverse variants of English, and select other foreign languages - e.g. Swedish.

This is helpful for learning foreign languages, in combination with the "say" command, for example.

Built-in voices VoiceOver in OS X Lion includes built-in voices that speak 22 languages: Arabic, English, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Cantonese, Mandarin (China), and Mandarin (Taiwan). In addition, other languages are available for downloads including Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Romanian, Slovak, and Thai, as well as alternative voices with different dialects such as English (UK), English (Australia), English (South Africa), and Spanish (Mexico).

High-quality voices In addition to the built-in voices in Lion, you can download higher-quality versions of the languages from VoiceOver Utility. Choose Customize from the Voice pop-up menu in the Speech pane.

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Autocorrect services from the system

I am happy to see that one of the most helpful-yet-annoying features of iOS has made it into Lion - Autocorrect. Seeing the little pop-up with the suggestion and then seeing my spelling error automatically corrected made me smile. (I'll have to play with it a bit more to figure out exactly how to see other suggestions and cancel an incorrect one, but this is a great feature in the right context.)

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4  
You mean the "way to do it", not the "day to do it", yes? ;-) –  Moshe Jul 22 '11 at 14:13
2  
How do you enable this? I love apples autocorrect, it completely removed the need for English teachers moaning about spelling. –  Jonathan. Jul 24 '11 at 1:46

Spell check service is aware of a document's language

The spell checker auto detects what language you're writing it and switches to the correct dictionary!

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Disconnecting an iPhone doesn't wake display anymore.

With Leopard, I would often put the computer to sleep only to realize I hadn't disconnected my iPhone. Disconnecting my iPhone would wake the computer back up.

With Lion, unplugging the iPhone does seem to wake the computer up, but the screen stays asleep. And it seems to fall back asleep in a minute or so if left untouched.

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Photo Booth now has an option to disable screen flash

Before you could suppress the screen flash by holding Shift but I don't recall there being a persistent option. For those of us with glasses who are sick of taking pictures that look like we're witnessing nuclear weapons testing, this is a welcome feature.

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Automator can send a URL to Quick Look rather than a browser.

With automator, you can now make a website open as a web app. You just have to make Automator open a URL as a “Website Popup”. Very nice unadvertised feature.

Andy Ihnatko explains it well - you can make a minimalistic desktop web app with ease.

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Unsupported hardware notices

This caught me off guard, but it did not make me smile:

enter image description here

The icon in System Preferences has also been renamed from "Print & Fax" to "Print & Scan".

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Finder: select items & create a new folder containing them.

Upon having the thought to organize some documents, the workflow is much accelerated. Simply select the items, activate the service to make a new folder and then rename the new folder.

This is so much better than the old, interrupt your thought to make a new folder, find it (if you sort by name), rename it, go back and select the files, and drag it to the new folder.

As a bonus, Undo support (Command-Z) of the "New folder from selection" has a very cool animation like the drag flocking. I spent 10 or 15 minutes just "New folder from selection", command Z, shift command Z.

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Mission Control supports unique backgrounds per space

The ability to have different desktop backgrounds in different spaces. Set the background, add a space, then set a new background in that space. Not sure if it is a bug or a feature, because it doesn't specify that it is for that space only. When you change it, it changes your default, but not backgrounds on existing spaces. enter image description here

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Wi-Fi Diagnostics are pretty and useful

Option-click the Wi-Fi status menu to reveal options such as Wi-Fi Diagnostics …

Wi-Fi Diagnostics

It's very good for monitoring and testing wireless networks.

If you prefer to not show Wi-Fi status in the menu bar, then to find the app:

  1. Finder
  2. Go
  3. /System/Library/CoreServices
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external keyboard F1/F2 control brightness

Pressing F1 or F2 keys on an external keyboard will brighten or dim the display.

Previously those keys does nothing. This was very un-handy having to reach up to the laptop keyboard to dim its screen.

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2  
I run Snow Leopard 10.6.7 and my F1/F2 keys on the usb keyboard brighten and dim my display. –  atroon Aug 2 '11 at 12:56

Motion Blur in Mission Control

While Mission Control is open, press +M to enable a motion blur effect.

You can see the effect when application windows gather/disperse to/from Mission Control and, also, when changing desktops (in Mission Control).

To disable it, press +M again.

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Terminal.app now supports 256 colors.

You can test this yourself by running the “Colortest: xterm 256 color test and visual colors list” script.

Before (screenshot taken under OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard):

After (screenshot taken under OS X 10.7 Lion):

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Launchpad Background Wallpaper Effects

Being able to change the Launchpad background effect with Control + Option + Command + B in 10.7.3 and 10.8, or + B, is pretty cool. You can make any Desktop Wallpaper black and white, blurred, sharp, color, or any combination of those. It only is capable of using your current desktop's wallpaper however, unless any of you know how to specify a different wallpaper just for Launchpad. It's really a nice customization option!

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Native support for Microsoft DFS

We use Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) at work and for years mounting Windows shares has always been a headache because of DFS. With Lion, DFS works like a charm, no more 50 individual mounts now its just smb://server/dfsroot

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Wireless Internet Sharing supports 5Ghz channels (802.11n)

I use an old Mac Mini in my bedroom as a media center, and have used OS X's built-in Internet Sharing to make it act as a wireless access point and share the ethernet connection.

Up to Snow Leopard, it only supported sharing on the 2.4Ghz frequency, which in my neighborhood is so congested as to be nearly useless. But in Lion there are four 5Ghz frequencies available to share on.

Now if they'd only allow better wireless security than WEP-128, it'd be perfect!

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2  
The fact that there is still 40-bit WEP as an option proves that Apple doesn't take security seriously. –  porneL Aug 7 '11 at 16:26

Calculate all sizes in Finder is ridiculously fast now

I've always avoided using the Calculate all sizes option.

( + J ) It made Finder run so slowly in the past.

enter image description here

It runs now like butter on a hot skillet.

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Quick Look to Track Shipments from within Mail.app

I love the ability to track shipments straight from Mail.app without going to a browser...opens it right there in the thread for you with a neat little window (assuming the tracking number doesn't have a crazy format)... :-)

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QuickLook in Mission Control

When in Mission Control, you can invoke Quicklook on a certain window that your cursor hovers by pressing space.

enter image description here

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2  
In Snow Leopard, once you hit space, you could mouse around and it would zoom whatever window your cursor was over. In Lion, this no longer happens. I can't decide if I prefer this or not... –  daGUY May 16 '12 at 15:42

Rich Text welcome banners for labs or corporate settings

I have to manage Macs at work, and it has always been a challenge to have an acceptable use login banner for people to agree to before logging in. Either editing .plist files, or downloading 3rd-party software was required. However, now Lion lets you put a text or rich-text file in /Library/Security and it will show up at login. Apple even puts a little example for you on this webpage

This is a very welcome development!

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Mutitouch Page Turning in iCal

You can move between months in iCal with a 2 finger drag - it has the same page turning animation as iBooks on iPad.

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OS X Lion comes with Vim 7.3 installed.

Older OS X versions had Vim 7.2.

$ vim --version
VIM - Vi IMproved 7.3 (2010 Aug 15, compiled Jun 24 2011 20:00:09)
Compiled by root@apple.com
Normal version without GUI.  Features included (+) or not (-):
-arabic +autocmd -balloon_eval -browse +builtin_terms +byte_offset +cindent 
-clientserver -clipboard +cmdline_compl +cmdline_hist +cmdline_info +comments 
-conceal +cryptv +cscope +cursorbind +cursorshape +dialog_con +diff +digraphs 
-dnd -ebcdic -emacs_tags +eval +ex_extra +extra_search -farsi +file_in_path 
+find_in_path +float +folding -footer +fork() -gettext -hangul_input +iconv 
+insert_expand +jumplist -keymap -langmap +libcall +linebreak +lispindent 
+listcmds +localmap -lua +menu +mksession +modify_fname +mouse -mouseshape 
-mouse_dec -mouse_gpm -mouse_jsbterm -mouse_netterm -mouse_sysmouse 
+mouse_xterm +multi_byte +multi_lang -mzscheme +netbeans_intg -osfiletype 
+path_extra -perl +persistent_undo +postscript +printer -profile -python 
-python3 +quickfix +reltime -rightleft -ruby +scrollbind +signs +smartindent 
-sniff +startuptime +statusline -sun_workshop +syntax +tag_binary 
+tag_old_static -tag_any_white -tcl +terminfo +termresponse +textobjects +title
 -toolbar +user_commands +vertsplit +virtualedit +visual +visualextra +viminfo 
+vreplace +wildignore +wildmenu +windows +writebackup -X11 -xfontset -xim -xsmp
 -xterm_clipboard -xterm_save 
   system vimrc file: "$VIM/vimrc"
     user vimrc file: "$HOME/.vimrc"
      user exrc file: "$HOME/.exrc"
  fall-back for $VIM: "/usr/share/vim"
Compilation: gcc -c -I. -D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=0 -Iproto -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -arch i386 -arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe
Linking: gcc -arch i386 -arch x86_64 -o vim -lncurses

(That “Compiled by root@apple.com” line looks awesome.)

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

The Zoom ⊕ button will attempt to maximize

The Zoom button on the windows behaves more like Maximize on Windows OS rather than the old behavior where it usually made the window smaller (or the alternate saved/previous size). Be sure to experiment with the shift key when using the Lion controls.

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6  
I think you'll change your mind once you plug in a second monitor :( –  Nick Bedford Jul 27 '11 at 22:46

I found that iCal allows you to drag an event (so you can open another one).

Click on any event to get the popup:

enter image description here Then click on the areas in the green boxes of that popup and drag until it transforms into some sort of "palette".

The truth is that you can drag from any gray piece, but if the popup has a scroll area (because it's too large) then dragging from the scrollable area may not work. Try creating an event and adding a very large note to see the difference.

Once you drag it, it will look like this, so you can click another event and do the same, and you can have as many as you can pile :)

enter image description here Sry about the Blurring, but there were names there) ;)

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Lion allows you to create user names containing dots.

The lack of this frustrated standardisation with our corporate networks back in Leopard. Now I have the same user name over Mac, Windows and Unix.

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L opens the Downloads window in Finder

In Snow Leopard, this key combination was recognised by Safari.

In Lion

Before Lion, I often used the orderly and sizeable downloads window of Safari as a tool for organisation, so the disorderly popover in Lion was a shock to the system. I particularly hate the disorder. Also I often thought to myself … "One day, I'll accidentally click Clear … that button's far too near the scroll bar.".

When eventually that accident occurred I cursed, loudly. It was comparable to losing a list of to-dos.

I no longer hate the popover in Safari, but I haven't learnt to love Finder (it fails to find most folders that I seek), so I'm in limbo, somewhat disorganised.

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Mail now displays custom header

Under

Mail->Preferences->Viewing->Show Header Detail->Custom

enter image description here

you can specify custom headers that will be presented to you above the mails: enter image description here

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Safari and background tabs

Safari appears to aggressively manage its memory footprint by unloading unused pages then reloading them as needed, much like Safari in iOS.

You can see this in action if you open up a large number of tabs and then leave some of them alone and unviewed for a while. When you return to a tab that hasn't been viewed in a long time, Safari will quickly reload it.

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2  
Do you know if this can be turned off (maybe on a session to session basis)? Sometimes one may not want to have pages to reload silently. –  Debilski Jul 25 '11 at 22:00
1  
It seems to only be doing it for pages that have their cache preferences set correctly. So it won't do it if there is a web form that is half filled out, or if a page is set to non-caching. –  X-Istence Jul 31 '11 at 21:34

Mission Control + Spaces

You can use Mission Control to easily drag and drop apps from one Space to another.

enter image description here enter image description here

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3  
it used to be easier -- in snow leopard, you could drag from a different space to the current one, now you have to switch to the other space and drag it to the one you want :( –  Noah Aug 8 '11 at 2:00
1  
Yeah... this is definitely a thumbs down when compared to the way Spaces worked. –  TheWellington Sep 13 '11 at 16:29
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@Noah: hold option and click the space you want - it'll slide that space into view without activating it. Then you can move windows between spaces without having to jump in and out of Mission Control every time you switch spaces. –  daGUY May 16 '12 at 15:46

Thumbs up: Display icon in the menu bar has been modernised.

Display Icon in menu bar

Thumbs down: But the grey for Back/Forward button is not dark enough to contrast with the inactive state.

Back button

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protected by Community Aug 8 '11 at 18:17

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