Mountain Lion Hints and Tips

I’ve had Apple’s $19.99 Mountain Lion installed here on an iMac (2.7 GHz Intel Core i5) for about two weeks, enough time to find a few niceties and doodads that you might be interested in. Here goes.

Address Book has been renamed “Contacts” (matching the iPhone and iPad apps) and it has some improvements. First, the no-one-understands-this-feature red bookmark is gone. Replacing it: a useful three-column view showing the Groups list, the current contacts list, and the current contract. Second, Contacts handles drag-and-drop of vCards better than Address Book did. You can click on a person’s name in the contacts list and drag it to Now Contact and the person is added to Now Contact with no additional steps. Previously, the vCard had to make a temporary stop on the Desktop– you could not drag straight to Now Contact. But now you can. I don’t know whether it’s because Contacts is better than Address Book, or whether Mountain Lion is better than Lion. All I know is it works.

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iCal has been renamed “Calendar” and it’s a little bit better now. Calendar shows “mini months” and they’re clickable– click on a mini month and Calendar displays that month. Also, Calendar once again shows the calendar list, like it did in 10.6. Apple taketh away, then Apple giveth back, then I writeth it up as if it’s a new feature.

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Nice Touch, Apple: if you use Spotlight to search for “iCal” it brings up Calendar, and if you search for “Address Book” it brings up Contacts. This makes it easier for those with old habits. Also, if you have AppleScripts that refer to Address Book and/or iCal, they are magically changed to refer to Contacts and Calendar– without you doing anything. VERY nice, Apple. Thoughtful and thorough.

Mail has a new feature called “VIPs.” You can tell Mail that messages from this person, that person, and the other person are important– that is, their senders are “VIPs.” From then on, messages from those senders show up in a special “VIPs” mailbox. (Actually, each VIP gets his own mailbox, and they’re all grouped together in an expandable folder). The emails still show up in your Inbox but they also show up in the VIPs section. This is nothing but a “Smart Mailbox” that looks for mail from certain senders, so it’s nothing really “new” but it is a lot easier to set up.

In the picture below you can see 3389 unread messages in the Inbox but only 171 unreads in the VIP list. I still need to read the rest of them but with the VIPs at least I know where to start. Note: messages are not “moved” to the VIP list. They are DISPLAYED there but not actually moved. You can still find them in the Inbox, so you get to have your cake and eat it too. Yum, cake.

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(Elevate someone to VIP status by mousing over the address section in an email, then clicking on the star.)
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I’m into the address book (I mean Contacts), Calendar, and Mail all day long so these improvements help me a lot. They’re small, but when you benefit hundreds of times a day it really adds up. I’d have paid $19.99 for these improvements alone.

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