Jerry King’s Mac 411: Lion on the loose

Apple has said it would make operating system 10.7 (Lion) available in July. As the seventh upgrade (a $29.99 purchase) of the original OS X, Apple’s announcement stated there are more than 250 improvements over OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard). With Lion about to be unleashed later this month for many Mac owners, this article will cover a few of the features that may be interesting to you. I’ve not been in the developer’s loop so this is not insider information.

System requirements

Lion will only install on an Intel based Mac. Not all Intel Macs are able to run Lion. It must be an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (or newer) reflecting about a four-year maximum age for existing Macs. You can determine your processor by accessing “About this Mac” under the Apple icon. Minimum RAM requirements are 2 GB; some Macs with an appropriate processor may have to add memory, as 2 GB was not standard in Macs until recently.

In addition, the Mac has to have Snow Leopard version 10.6.8 installed. Lion will not be available on disk (DVD) but only via the Mac App Store that was introduced in 10.6.7. Apple has given no guidance for those running older operating systems, such as Leopard (10.5), of an upgrade procedure to move directly to Lion.

Internet considerations

The only announced way to obtain Lion is from the Mac App Store. There will be no boxes with software DVDs to purchase. The file is expected to be about 4 GB. Dial-up Internet access is not realistic; low speed DSL or economy cable services will involve a lengthy download activity. Internet service providers such as satellite or others that have data caps on the amount of data transfer will probably cause problems or data usage fees.

Make a bootable clone backup of your computer before you begin the installation of Lion in case there is a problem with the installation procedure.

Multiple computers

Prior OS X releases offered a discounted family pack for those with more than one computer. Apple has no family pack for Lion. Rather, with one purchase, Lion can be installed on other computers that have the same Apple App Store identity. Connect to the Mac App Store from the other computer, login with the prior identity and download Lion to the other computer(s).

Each download is another 4 GB of data. Innovative people should be able to create a disk image DVD of the download.

A few features

Full Screen Apps: Applications can take advantage of full screen window capability in Lion. Switching between applications will bring up a full screen of the new application.

Address Book, iCal and Mail: You will recognize much of the new appearances and actions if you have viewed the equivalents on an iPad. This is part of the migration of the appearance of the operating system of the iDevices to OS X. These three take advantage of full screen capability.

AirDrop: AirDrop facilitates the transfer of files between computers in close proximity using the inherent Wi-Fi ability of Macs. It does not require a local Wi-Fi network. Available computers/users will be shown in Finder. Simply drag the file onto the image of the available user to initiate a transfer.

Resume: When you start your computer you will have the option to have everything return to the status (running applications and open files) of when you had shut down your computer. Alternatively, when you restart an application Resume will give you back the working status (open windows, cursor location, etc) of when you had quit.

Versions: Imagine Time Machine brought down to the immediate level of your working documents. Lion will automatically save a snapshot image of the changes to a working document every hour (or at your request). You can browse these document image histories (versions) and return one for work.

Auto Save: This feature automatically saves changes to your document as you work. Some applications, such as Bento, work this way already; now all applications can if the developer uses Auto Save. Options include revert to last saved version, duplicate a document to create a template, or lock the document so a document is not accidentally modified.

Do you have a question about using your Mac? Send your question to Jerry: An index of prior Mac 411 articles is available:

Jerry King is president of the Naples MacFriends User Group (NMUG), founded to help Macintosh users get the most out of their computers. NMUG is open to area residents and seasonal visitors. For membership information visit:

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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