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Things To Know Before Downloading Apple’s Mountain Lion OS X

Apple last night announced they will be releasing the latest version of its OS X operating system for Mac computers today.

Available for download – probably from late this afternoon or early evening – the OS called Mountain Lion replaces the earlier Lion version.

It will cost just £13.99 and can be downloaded straight from the Mac App Store – so if you’re thinking of updating your Mac computer to the new platform, then here are some things to know.

Will it work on my Mac?

Mountain Lion needs 2GB of memory and 8GB of storage space to work and needs to be updated from the Snow Leopard OS running at version 10.6.8 or later. So you don’t have to have the previous Lion OS installed, you can simply jump and miss that one out.

But you’ll need an iMac from 2007 onwards; an aluminium MacBook from late 2008 or a model bought at least in early 2009; or the MacBook Pro from mid to late 2007.

In the same way that not all features of iOS work on every iPhone or iPad model, not all Mountain Lion features will work on every Mac. You can find more here.

What if I have just bought a new Mac?

If you purchased a Mac desktop or MacBook on or after June 11 2012, you are then entitled to a free update to Mountain Lion. Just visit http://www.apple.com/osx/uptodate/ for more details and you have 30 days from the launch of the operating system to claim your copy for nothing.

What’s the biggest difference?

With features and functionality drawn from Apple’s iOS devices, Mountain Lion will have a whole new feel. The main change is the arrival of Notification Center on your Mac, just like on your iOS device.

A specific column on screen will provide updates of everything that’s happing on your machine and it is available with a simple swipe from the right of the trackpad. New Notifications will arrive in the top right of your screen so not to clutter it and they include the latest emails, Twitter mentions and software updates.

What else is new?

Other innovations coming from mobile include iMessage, which will allow Mac owners to send messages to any device running iOS 5 right now and the forthcoming iOS 6. So that’s Mac to iPhone, Mac to iPad and even Mac to iPod touch – and back again. You’ll be able to attach documents, photos and videos and best of all, sending an iMessage is free.

Another key feature that iOS users will be familiar with is iCloud and this is integrated within Mountain Lion to ensure all your files, from whatever device, are instantly synced and available whenever you need them or wherever you want them.

The Reminders and Notes apps from iOS will also be included in Mountain Lion ensuring you never miss or forget anything again.

Are there any social media changes?

When Apple integrated Twitter deep into iOS to work on the move with its devices, many wondered why it had left Facebook out. Well, wonder no longer as Facebook will be entwined with Mountain Lion allowing you to post, share and check out what your friends are up to from all sorts of programs.

However, it won’t come in this initial update. Instead it will become available at a later date as newer versions of the OS are made ready for free download.

Anything for gamers?

Well, glad you asked. Game Center is also coming from the mobile side of things to allow you to download and play games against millions of others. You can use the same Apple ID to sign in and also get recommendations of new games you might enjoy as well as new players to connect and compete with.

What about browsing the web?

Another good question. Safari has been overhauled in Mountain Lion to make it faster with a navigation bar that can be used for search. That has been a long time coming. A new Tab View will show you what Tabs you have open at any time and you can save entire webpages to a Reading List too.

How excited should I be?

When Apple release any new OS X version it is always well worth the wait. Packed with hundreds of tweaks, it should make your system speedier and feel like a whole new machine. One other cool feature in Mountain Lion is Dictation, you can even use the voice control to type for you in Office.

You’ll also be able to stream from your Mac with AirPlay Mirroring onto a television that has Apple TV connected to it.

Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said:

“People are going to love the new features in Mountain Lion and how easy it is to download and install from the Mac App Store. With iCloud integration, Mountain Lion is even easier to set up, and your important information stays up to date across all your devices so you can keep editing documents, taking notes, creating reminders, and continue conversations whether you started on a Mac, iPhone or iPad.”

Should I download it straight away?

As with any new software, it is worth remembering that not all software or devices may work with it. You may have to wait for patches or fixes to become available from different manufacturers should you experience problems with the likes of printers, speakers or other peripherals.

Sometimes waiting a few days could be a good idea giving you time to read up on any problems users have noticed. Downloading it at the start could also be slow going as Apple’s servers struggle with the demand from Mac owners desperate to be among the first to experience a whole new level of computing.

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