So you decided to live on the bleeding edge and install Lion soon after it was released. You’ve done your due diligence by making sure you have viable backups, and you managed to make it through the upgrade process unscathed. Lion is a huge evolutionary leap forward for OS X, and if you’ve just bought your first Mac with Lion pre-installed, it probably makes your previous OS look like a dinosaur.
Right about now you must be wondering what you should do now that you’ve got Lion up and running. We have a few suggestions that will help you acclimate yourself and make the most out of this marvel of an operating system. You can also check out our article about getting your Mac ready to upgrade to Mac OS X Lion, before getting started.
Install Software Updates and Clean House
Regardless of whether you just unboxed a new Lion-wielding Mac or upgraded your existing Mac, you should check for any available software updates. First run OS X’s Software Update application, and make sure you install any available updates from Apple.
Once you’ve installed any outstanding updates to Lion and other Apple products, you should check for available updates for the applications you use frequently. Some applications will need updates to function properly in Lion, and others may just be due for updates. If any of your applications requires a paid update, now would be a great time to decide whether or not you want to continue using those applications, and pay for the updates that you need.
While you are taking the time to check all of your frequently used applications and update them, do some house cleaning. While you are flipping through your applications, consider deleting or archiving some of the applications that you do not use or need anymore.
It’s a great opportunity to clean up your hard drive and reclaim some space if you need it. You may also want to remove the icon clutter on your dock and desktop as well.
Let Spotlight Re-index Your Drive
Soon after Lion’s release, people who upgraded from Snow Leopard reported that their systems were running slowly. It turns out that Apple made some significant changes to how Spotlight searches your files. As a result of these changes, Spotlight will re-index your hard drive shortly after you upgrade, and this will slow your system down significantly.
Depending on how full your hard drive is and how much data you have, it may take a few hours for Spotlight to finish re-indexing your hard drive, so let it finish the process before you start digging into Lion.
Configure FileVault and Time Machine
If you are using OS X for the first time, you’re probably not familiar with FileVault and Time Machine. If you attempted to use the previous version of FileVault in Snow Leopard, you remember that setting it up was a pain, because you couldn’t use your Mac while the encryption process was running. FileVault 2, as implemented in Lion, allows you to encrypt your entire hard drive on the fly. You just set it up, let it run, and your data will be encrypted in the background while you continue to work. Now you can protect your data without killing your productivity.
Backing up your Mac is imperative, and the easiest way to do it is by using Time Machine. Once you configure it, Time Machine will automatically perform backups of your system. If you need to restore something, you can enter Time Machine, and flip back to the version of the file you need from when you need it to restore it. It’s just as easy to roll your system back to a previous day’s backup.
The best part of using FileVault and Time Machine is that they work together seamlessly. FileVault not only encrypts your Mac, but it can also encrypt your Time Machine backups. You will have peace of mind knowing that even if your backup device is stolen your data is still safe.
Get Used to the New Multi-Touch Gestures
With every successive release of OS X, Apple has added more multi-touch gestures, and introduced new ways for you to interact with your Mac. Lion introduces a lot of new gestures that will not only change how you work, but will save you a lot of time. Take the time to review Apple’s Multi-Touch Gestures page, and watch the accompanying video. It only takes a few minutes, and you will be surprised how much these gestures change your experience.
Set Up Multiple Desktops and Try Full-Screen Apps
A messy desktop is a reflection of a messy mind, and having too many apps open at the same time can wreak havoc on your concentration. Even a 27” iMac monitor can get too cluttered and busy for you to work efficiently. Lion’s Mission Control allows you to set up multiple desktops, and you can use them to organize your clutter.
Set up a desktop just for your work, another for chats and music, and another one as a quiet place to write. A three-finger swipe from left to right will move you from your main desktop to your secondary desktop. Reversing the motion brings you back to your original desktop.
Lion’s new full screen feature allows apps to envelop your entire screen and block out distractions. Safari, iCal, and iTunes, along with several other applications, have full-screen capability. When you maximize any application to full-screen size, it shows up in Mission Control like an additional desktop, and you can navigate among your desktops and full-screen apps using the three-finger swipe gesture.
These are just a few of the new and updated features and applications you can take advantage of in Lion. Once you have acclimated to the new look and feel of Lion, taking the time to set up these applications and learn to use these features will help you secure your data, clean up your Mac, and be more productive while you’re working.