7 days with Mac OS X Lion

By , ITworld |  Software, I'll try it

Day two: Full screen apps, Dashboard, Mail, and iCal. Love Mail's new search features. ICal, not so much.

I've been trying to get used to Mail and iCal as full screen apps. Mail seems to be really well-suited to running full screen. In fact, Mail's new search features, message threading, and multi-pane view rock. These are things that have been long overdue in Mail. Kinda wish Apple hadn't changed every icon/button though – most of them are intuitive, but that junk mail one is going to take some getting used to since it looks like something to rate messages with more than marking them as junk.

iCal is really cool as a full screen app. It reminds me of those giant paper desk calendars that all my teachers had in school. As much as I really want to like iCal though I don't. Apple completely removed the sidebar as an option. I have so many different calendars (articles for different publications, mid-long term projects, personal and family things), which was a great organizing feature in older versions of iCal for me. They're still there, but the first calendar in the list is now the default for any new event. I'm used to being able to select a calendar in the sidebar and have it be used for any new events while its selected – an option that was easy and efficient… and that's gone completely. Now adding events seems like there's too many extra steps of editing them once they're created. I'll keep trying it, but I may end up looking for an alternative.

Speaking of full screen apps, Mission Control is throwing me a bit. It certainly makes the virtual desktop options better than Spaces was in Leopard/Snow Leopard but it doesn't seem quite as intuitive as I'd like. I'm sure it'll get easier with use. There is a part of me that wishes I could just turn it off at times.

Mission Control

Two big tips for readers here though. First, if you want to view a different space in Mission Control, hold the option key when clicking it because simply clicking it will switch to it, and exit mission control. Second, if you get confused by spaces automatically rearranging on you, you can turn that feature off in System Preference – by default, Lion will rearrange them so the most used spaces are always to the left.

On the same subject, I'm not sure I like Dashboard as a space (thankfully, it's easy to restore traditional Dashboard functionality). First, the background is awful. More importantly, it seems to deprecate Dashboard as a feature. I guess I'm not surprised as Dashboard never took off as much as I think Apple intended, but it's a feature that I really like. It does make it easy to get quick status type things (weather most importantly) and access things like contact information without launching a full blown app.

Of course, Dashcode (the Dashboard widget development solution) has always seemed like a great stepping stone for web developers looking to get started with Xcode for Mac or iOS app development. The interface is similar enough to become acquainted with tools and concepts, but using languages a web developer is already fluent in.

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