OS X Mountain Lion is out: What you’re getting and how to prepare

Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion overview

For a more in depth breakdown check out our full review of Apple’s new OS X Mountain Lion.

Apple has officially released Mountain Lion, the ninth version of its popular OS X operating system, which has been powering iMacs and MacBooks for 11 years now. Mountain Lion is currently available as a digital download in the Mac App Store, a part of iTunes. The best part: It’s only $20. Not bad for a PC upgrade. You can download OS X Mountain Lion here.

Mountain Lion is full of new features, many of which come from iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad. Below are a few of the new features.

  • Messages: This lets you chat with anyone using iMessage on iPhones or iPads. It’s an instant messaging/texting replacement service.
  • Reminders and Notes: The Reminders and Notes apps make their way from iOS to Mac as well. These are self-explanatory.
  • Notification center: iOS borrowed the Notifications tray from Android and now this feature is coming to the Mac. It lets you see recent emails, messages, and lets apps you install contact you with messages. For instance, if you install a game, it might send you a notification to tell you that a new level is available for download. Social network apps like Facebook can also notify you of new messages. In the future, even Apple might notify you to inform you that the next version of OS X is available. 
  • Power Nap: Like a phone, your Mac will continue to download and connect to apps in the background when it’s closed.
  • Voice Dictation: Say it and Mac will type it… probably inaccurately. Still, voice dictation can be useful.
  • Sharing button: Sharing buttons have been placed throughout the OS, letting you share items to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, or Vimeo.
  • Facebook Integration: This feature isn’t coming until later this fall, but there will be built-in Facebook support on the Mac. 
  • Gatekeeper: Apple has instituted a new feature that, like Android phones, lets you select whether you’d like to allow apps to be installed from sources other than the Mac App Store.
  • iCloud: More robust iCloud services will be included. 

Apple claims there are 200+ new features in Mountain Lion, but these are many of the larger ones. However, downloading OS X is not quite as simple as it seems. Our own Geoff Duncan has prepared a guide to Preparing your Mac for Mountain Lion. We recommend you check it out to see if you’re computer is eligible for an upgrade and what to do before installation.