Apple's new OS for the App Store era borrows iPad usability tweaks while delivering key new features for businesses and professionals
Finder's other new feature of note is search suggestions. If you type "pd" into Finder's search field, you'll not only see a list of files containing that pattern, but a menu appears that suggests doing a "kind" search for PDF documents. Click on the suggestion to perform that search.
You may not need to resort to Finder for searches. Good old Spotlight has been wired for Quick Look and drag and drop for its results, and hovering over a result displays a preview in a popover window.
Mac OS X Lion: Networking and collaboration
There are lots of ways to move files across a network, but they all require enough advance setup that sneakernet remains a popular option. Lion lets you swap files wirelessly between your notebook and desktop Macs, or with a group of people you just met at a conference. Clicking the AirDrop icon in Lion's Finder instantly sets up and globally advertises a special ad hoc wireless node.
All Lion users running AirDrop can see each other, provided they're in Wi-Fi range and have a late-2008 or newer Mac model (older versions don't have the Wi-Fi chipset required to support AirDrop). You never see a remote Mac's files, only a named icon that works as a drop zone for the files you want to copy. It's secure -- every transfer requires the recipient's permission, and closing or navigating out of Finder's AirDrop view makes you vanish from other users' screens.
Mac users that work in a Windows environment will be pleased to discover that Lion integrates fairly robust support for Microsoft DFS. Prior versions of OS X required third-party software to enable access to DFS shares.
The bundled Mail app, which has always had a purely utilitarian feel to it, has received a thorough overhaul. Under the hood, Apple has added Exchange Server 2010 compatibility, including the ability to set your vacation response. Mail's new default layout nixes the inbox list to create a clean two-column interface: message summaries on the left, message content on the right. Each summary includes a few lines of the body and makes good use of typography to distinguish each message element. Messages are grouped into conversations by subject line, and you can see the full content of all related messages in one continuously scrollable view by clicking on the last message in the thread. This adds up to quicker inbox triage and less digging through past messages to make sense of replies.
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