Upgrade To Lion? Wait For Mountain Lion?

by John Holbo on May 14, 2012

A tech question for the CT commentariat. I’m a mac user, still using Snow Leopard but being pressured by Apple to upgrade to Lion – because I use MobileMe, which has become iCloud, which is no longer compatible with Snow Leopard after next month. (Except, apparently, they are relenting a bit about that. See below.)

The question: should I upgrade to Lion?

Normally I would just do it. In my case I’ve been slow because I had one legacy PPC app – Expression – which I’ve used for drawing for years. It will die when Rosetta dies, leaving me locked out of all that work forevermore. I recently overcame that problem by manually exporting all of that stuff as Illustrator docs. (That was fun!) So now I’m ready. But. Reading the Lion reviews, a lot of people have had problems. Adobe CS stuff reported to run sluggish on some systems – and not just old ones. A few folks have apparently had their computers turn into bricks. It seems like I might have to do more than just back up to TimeMachine before making the shift. Maybe do the whole CC clone thing, for safety? My system is not exactly old – an early 2009 iMac. But it’s not exactly new. And there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the problems I see reported. New systems. Old systems. Some folks have had no problems. Some folks have had serious problems and retreated to Snow Leopard.

And for what? Lion seems mostly to be geared to 1) making my iMac more like an iPad; 2) enabling easier filesharing.

Re: 1). Seems like I might need to buy one of those Magic Trackpads so I can do iPad style ‘gesturing’. That would be snazzy, I suppose. But when I bought a Magic Mouse some months ago the Bluetooth proved so unreliable – I could only make it work about 80% of the time – that it now sits in a drawer. Can I use my Wacom Intuos3 drawing tablet instead? (Will it even still work right for regular old drawing? Reports vary!)

Re: 2). I need MobileMe (formerly .mac, now iCloud) because it’s my main email address. Been that since 2003. Other than that, it’s not like I need all that much bleeding edge filesharing capability.

So I feel like maybe I’m going to spend $29, plus buy a new external hard drive to guard against the outside possibility of my computer turning into a brick, just to make sure I can keep my email running. Plus no doubt some great new features, but I’m not exactly dying for any particular thing Lion does.

I’ve been preparing to do it because I thought I didn’t have an option. But now Apple seems to be saying I can keep my email even if I’m not 100% Lion or iOS6 on all my devices after the drop dead June 30 date. I just lose MobileMe storage. Inconvenient, to be sure.

Maybe I should wait for Mountain Lion and hope at least the bug reports will be more favorable (even as the iPad-ification of the Mac proceeds apace?)

Please feel free to report your experiences with Lion, fellow CT’ers. I’m really unsure how to take the reviews in the App Store. They are like reviews of political books. A lot of five stars and one stars. It’s confusing. Obviously people who have a really bad experience are more naturally motivated to leave an angry review than are people who have a painless experience and hardly notice it even happened. So I have a hard time telling whether negative reviews are representative. All the major reviews of Lion from ZDnet, MacUser and the like have been broadly favorable. But there is an undercurrent of user dissatisfaction in lots of forums. Let’s add to that with a confused cacophony of CT comments!



Prof. Poirot 05.14.12 at 2:41 am


Yes, you should upgrade. And make a clone of your hard drive before you do so. A full and bootable backup is essential.

I’m running Lion on a 2011 iMac and a 2007 MacBook. Works just fine on both. No problems.

Snow Leopard will be like all brand new releases of anything: slightly buggy. Lion is probably fairly debugged by now.

But then, I don’t use Adobe products. I hear horrible things about them, almost as bad as Microsoft at making bloatware.

As always, YMMV.


Salient 05.14.12 at 2:43 am

Leopard has been reported to make the Internet 100 times better than the standard alternative.

(It has limited support for gestures, so long as you don’t make any sudden moves.)


Greg 05.14.12 at 2:48 am

Lion is up to .4 now and if I were moving from SL, I would go to Lion rather than wait for Mountain Lion as who knows what Apple will break with the .1 version of ML. I held off for as long as possible moving to L (did it when .3 came out) and a lot of the annoying bits can be turned off/remapped to make it as like as SL as possible. So, if I were making the transition today, that’s what I would do.


Doctor Memory 05.14.12 at 2:50 am

For what it’s worth, I’ve actually been much more taken with the magic trackpad (work provided one) than I expected to be. The bluetooth connection has been rock solid — the worst that’s happened so far is that if my laptop is away from it for the weekend, I sometimes have to tap the power button to force it to wake back up. I still have a mouse attached to my USB hub for things that require a little more accuracy than the trackpad can provide (games, photo editing if I’m feeling persnickety), but only rarely use it and never actually miss it.

That said, if your main use of mobileme/icloud is merely the me.com/mac.com email address, I’m not sure that you need to upgrade at all? It’s not like they’re disabling the ability of mail.app to connect to it. I personally have found Lion to be dismayingly half-baked, and intend on staying put on 10.6 for as long as I can manage.


T 05.14.12 at 2:56 am

I’ve had no problem with Lion on a couple of older computers (2009-2010 models). Don’t use the gestures and magic pad stuff, Adobe CS5 stuff is fine. I’d definitely clone your boot drive before you upgrade.


Paul Kelleher 05.14.12 at 3:04 am

I upgraded a few months ago and experienced significant slow-down. A bit of googling suggested it might be Spotlight updating its cache for searching, but the sluggishness persisted for several days, which cannot be explained by anything to do with Spotlight. So in the end I reinstalled slow leopard via my time capsule backup, and have been happy since. I most certainly won’t be upgrading until I get a new machine that comes preloaded with Lion.


Talcott 05.14.12 at 3:10 am

I run Lion on an ’08 MacBook, and experience occasional minor glitches. But.. it’s definitely worth having access to newer software.
Keep in mind that you could literally spend weeks reading user reports of errors and problems with Lion, even if the actual percentage of users having significant problems is small, simply because the installed user base is so large.


jme 05.14.12 at 3:11 am

I have not noticed any major stability issues with Lion on my work computer. The major sources of discontent, IMHO, come from changes that Apple thinks are improvements, but many people (like me) really dislike.

1. Spaces – Still exists in Lion, but for me, it is seriously crippled. They are arranged linearly now, and the keyboard shortcuts for them are more awkward.

2. Removal of “Save As” – Only apps that implement this will see a change (although presumably all will eventually). Instead, you “Duplicate”, which means you always end up with two windows open, having to close the original. The automatic Locking after two weeks is also a bit irritating, but you can change that setting.

3. Reliance on trackpad – This one utterly baffles me. Has everyone in Cupertino developed amnesia and forgotten that trackpads were developed for laptops as a barely adequate substitute for a mouse? When did they start thinking trackpads were actually superior? Occasionally the gestures are useful, but if you do anything that requires repetitive fine-motor motions with the mouse pointer, the trackpad is just hell. Also, I’m constantly not clicking far enough in the corner for the right/left click distinction. The Bluetooth connection has completely died on me ~8-10 times over the course of 5 months, each time for an hour or so, and then mysteriously comes back. That’s not a lot, but it’s incredibly frustrating when it happens. I have an extra keyboard and mouse sitting next to my computer now as backups.

Lion is perfectly functional for me, but it’s the first OS X version I think I’ve ever used where the entire user experience is fairly obnoxious.


TWB 05.14.12 at 4:07 am

You don’t need to use a trackpad or an Apple mouse. I have used Logitech and Microsoft mice with my Macs for years. Most of the gestures aren’t good enough for me to miss them. They don’t make the Mac like an iPad in any significant way.

You’re going to want to play around with the settings to change the scrolling direction back to the way it used to be, especially if you use a mouse with a scroll wheel.

I don’t know when Mountain Lion is coming out – perhaps late summer? For only $29, you get to use Lion until then. Get used to the changes in Lion, because Mountain Lion will introduce even more.

Oh, and Adobe CS is slow on everything.


chrismealy 05.14.12 at 4:34 am

I’ve been using Lion for a year. It’s fine. Chrome is still Chrome, and Terminal (finally!) supports 256 colors. Photo Stream is handy. Messages is buggy as hell but it’s great getting hi-res iMessage photos delivered to your desktop.


bend 05.14.12 at 4:40 am

Mountain Lion is weeks away.


John Holbo 05.14.12 at 4:52 am

The filesharing stuff does all sound good. I’m not indifferent to the potential value of iCloud. But if the price is that Photoshop and InDesign get unusably slow, then that worries me.

Thanks for the comments, so far. Interesting stuff. Probably useful to anyone googling about the subject, not just me.


jseliger 05.14.12 at 5:01 am

still using Snow Leopard but being pressured by Apple to upgrade to Lion

When the last OS iteration came out, I wrote a post called “Mac OS 10.7 is out today, and I don’t care because ‘In the Beginning was the Command Line’” that explained why I’ve reached the end of the hardware / software upgrade treadmill, barring failure or unforeseen new developments.

To me, it’s not about the $30—it’s about the tedium and potential pain of upgrading, combined with the dearth of useful-looking features. If you’re set on using MobileMe / iCloud, I suppose you’re stuck with the upgrade.


eddie 05.14.12 at 5:33 am

Sounds too much like extortion to me. At work we are only just begining to use snow leopard on some machines and won’t upgrade higher than that for a very long time.

If the upgrade is a condition for using their cloud thing, with no option to use someone elses? Tell them where to go.


nick s 05.14.12 at 5:34 am

I’m in the same boat: a month ago, I upgraded another Mac to Lion before selling it (a 2007 MacBook) and the upgrade itself was completely pain-free. 10.7.4 just came out, too, and it’s nice that the Mac App Store installer gets updated to the most recent version, rather than having to install point updates afterwards.

My personal Mac, on the other hand, still has a couple of PPC apps that I’m loath to lose, and a lot of customisations that I’m loath to reimplement from scratch, and I suspect I’ll discover more issues post-upgrade. On the other hand, there’s definitely enough crud in my user account (a few system-related settings going back to OS 10.3, I believe) that a clean install might be beneficial.

I paid cash money for SuperDuper! to do full-disk backups, which is similar to CCC (and at the time I bought it, had a few more features), and I’ll clone the entire thing onto an external drive and check that it boots first. Then it’s a toss-up between an in-place update and a full reinstall.

When did they start thinking trackpads were actually superior?

When carpal tunnel set in? (A cynic might point to the quality of Apple’s own mice ever since the iMac.) I switched to a trackball for desktop use a long time ago, and the trackpad suits me fine these days.


Marshall 05.14.12 at 6:17 am

The thing about Lion is 64-bit addresses, which means there is a lot more space for memory hogs (like Photochop), but the memory management stuff becomes significantly more complicated, so like initial startup of applications is slower. Also file system management. I upgraded to Lion really early because that’s what I do but this time I was sorry – there were significant problems, especially Safari hangs. It’s still useful to reboot after using a lot of space (IMovie for me) but things have improved a lot. Changes in the interface aren’t that big a deal. If you’ve got a modern chip set, I would press on fearlessly. Disk image backup, definitely.
Apple ain’t what it was, truly. But still best-available IMO.


Substance McGravitas 05.14.12 at 6:37 am

It was a fairly cheap and easy upgrade and has worked fine for me, both with importing a user account to one machine and doing a clean install on another. I don’t, though, feel like I’ve gotten any advantage from it, and the interface and overall direction is not improving. I think I was happiest at 10.2. I’ve never wanted to use Bluetooth and use non-Apple mice.


Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) 05.14.12 at 7:07 am

Lion is in fairly good shape; I’ve been running it as my primary OS for about 6 or 7 months, and it’s been reasonably stable. But I also have a lot of PPC apps that I want to run, so I investigated ways to keep Snow Leopard around. There are two ways that I’ve found to do that:
1) Build separate disk partitions containing Lion and Snow Leopard, and dual boot. In fact, if I were doing this, I would be using 4 different boot partitions: Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion (a developer preview) and Windows 7. The downside of doing things this way is that you have to reboot the computer to switch between OSes, and you can’t run the different OS- dependent programs simultaneously.

2) I have a copy of VMWare Fusion, which allows me to build separate virtual machines for each OS. I boot the computer in Lion, and run Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, and Windows 7 VMs. Since I have a 2 core Macbook Pro, I can really only run one VM at a time with any real performance, but I can run the programs in the VM and those in the boot OS at the same time, and they can even share displays, drag and drop between them, and cut and paste from one to the other. If I had a more powerful computer, I could run more VMs at a time; with an 8 core Mac Pro I believe I could run all 4 OSes at once.


William Timberman 05.14.12 at 7:17 am

I have the same era iMac that you do. (27 inch core i7, to be more specific). The magic mouse is by far the best I’ve used. Since it seems to me that mice should always have worked by accommodating finger gestures the way the magic mouse does, I imagine I’d be equally happy with the trackpad, except for a few graphics functions, like dragging vertexes. The bluetooth for me has been flawless, although on the mouse eats batteries like nobody’s business. (The keyboard batteries last four or five times as long, on average.)

As for Lion, it’s been flawless, and I’ve long since found superior substitutes for the few PPC apps that I used regularly. I actually prefer the features everyone else bitches about — reverse-scrolling, disappearing scroll bars, the duplicate command, versions, etc. Being able to rearrange spaces by dragging them is a real plus.

Since I also have an iPhone and and iPad, iCloud was a no-brainer. Everything done on one device appears virtually simultaneously on the other devices. Again, this is how data synchronization should always have worked. Converting from MobileMe was a snap, and my .mac e-mail address remained unchanged, although I almost never use it except when communicating with Apple. Since I’ve never had more than one Apple ID, the change was completely transparent. One serious caveat: those who did have more than one ID have complained bitterly about not being able to consolidate them.

I’d say that unless you find changing anything you’ve gotten used to annoying in principle, go for it. Lion really does represent a bigger improvement than a simple list of feature enhancements would seem to indicate.


Chris Bertram 05.14.12 at 7:38 am

My Lion upgrade experience was fine, except that it “lost” a couple of user accounts which I then had to restore manually.

Is waiting an option? They sometimes make it difficult for you to skip OS versions and make you buy the intermediate stages too.


gray 05.14.12 at 9:19 am

I’d say wait. Apple changed a lot of fundamental thing between 10.6 & 10.7 and I suspect they will do it again. So that way you only have to re-adjust once.
I quite dislike the resume feature- I can’t turn it off on my computer and it adds 2 minutes to my boot time. Losing save as was irritating as well. Finally iCloud might be great one day,but not yet and apple has a notoriously short attention span with online services.


Deocliciano 05.14.12 at 10:50 am

Upgrade To Lion?

Of course. Apple takes risks, it is in Apple´s blood and Why i love Apple, and i hope they´ll continue to do so.
As a 3D artist i am loving Lion, and even grabbed QuickTime 7 from my mono-core iMac running SLeopard and it works fine alongside Quicktime X.

Just do a clean install, as an upgrade to SLeopard Lion was not as much fast on my 27“ iMac.


Shadrach 05.14.12 at 11:40 am

I waited until Lion .2 and then upgraded my 2009 Macbook pro and immediately regretted it. The formally lightning fast machine became as sluggish as the PC laptops I despised. Adobe programs were particularly agonizing. After a few weeks I switched back to snow leopard. I will not upgrade until my next purchase.


Daniel Rosenblatt 05.14.12 at 12:01 pm

I upgraded recently on my early 2008 15′ Macbook Pro and have been mostly pleased. The reason I upgraded was that some web sites had stopped working properly (with Firefox at least), especially Google Maps. The upgrade fixed that. As for the interface changes, I’ve grown used to “natural” (iPad style) scrolling and use a few gestures, but have found it necessary to switch mail back to “classic view” and turned off “organize by conversation.” Mission Control is an improvement on Expose. In general things seem a bit “snappier” after the upgrade, though I am hoping to by a new machine with an ivy bridge processor and retina display in the near future.


John Quiggin 05.14.12 at 1:00 pm

I upgraded to Lion for the same iCloud reasons you cite, and have been generally unhappy ever since. I don’t expect Mountain Lion to be any better, but at least if you wait you only have one lot of pain to go through.


JRoth 05.14.12 at 1:50 pm

Upgraded 3 machines to Lion (’09 MacBook Pro, ’10 iMac, ’10 Air), none of them had any problems. Other than lost access to PPC programs, the only hassle has been the loss of scanning from my primary printer (a Samsung all-in-one; supposedly there are fixes or workarounds, but I’ve had no success; I can scan from my Canon).

The Airdrop feature was really nice, then it stopped working, and I don’t know why. I haven’t spent any time trying to fix it, so maybe there’s something obvious or minor.

I was highly dubious about the gestures (I’m using a Magic Mouse, which only fails to connect after its batteries get switched), but it turns out I like them a lot. When the Magic Trackpad came out, I was incredibly dubious (I’m an architect, so I need a lot of precision), but now I think I would enjoy using one.

Finally, I don’t have an iPad, but I have no problem with the so-called iPadification of the Mac. On my iMac, it’s mostly irrelevant (I don’t use anything in full screen mode, because I don’t need 27″ of anything), but I like it a lot on the 13″ Air – less clutter, and swiping from program to program is quite nice.


Exiled Antipodean 05.14.12 at 1:54 pm

It will take longer but “nuke and pave” before installing Lion works wonders. I have a 2007 MacBook Pro that was kinda sluggish, but works well now.

I find most of Lion’s most irritating features can be turned off (the trackpad/scrolling to mimic a phone stuff).

The automatic restoration of apps and windows within apps is fantastic, and saves much time on restart.


John 05.14.12 at 1:58 pm

RAM, RAM, RAM. Get lots of it. At least 8GB. Lion is more RAM-hungry and you’ll notice the addition.

iCloud is very nice too. If you use iOS devices, you’ll really like it.


Ellie 05.14.12 at 2:27 pm

I can’t help on the Lion question, but maybe can help salvage your Magic Mouse. Mine had similar problems, and piece of cardboard shoved into the battery compartment to tighten the connections solved them.


hilzoy 05.14.12 at 2:28 pm

Lion has been fine for me. But the real treason I’m commenting is to link to this:


“If you’ve already migrated your MobileMe account to iCloud, move right along — nothing to see here. But if you haven’t yet done so because one or more of your devices doesn’t meet Apple’s system requirements for iCloud, you should be aware that Apple is now offering MobileMe users a way to keep their existing email addresses and calendars, even after MobileMe shuts down for good on 30 June 2012.”


Barry Freed 05.14.12 at 2:37 pm

Thank you so much for that hilzoy (and how the hell have you been btw?) that’s my situation exactly. I used to use Macs exclusively but now use Windows 7 on a laptop and a Treo phone (the homo erectus of smartphones) and I don’t want to lose my ability to email from my phone.


Greg 05.14.12 at 3:26 pm

@jme – you can remap the keyboard shortcuts to spaces! I was a very extensive user of expose (and in fact, it was a major reason why I switched back to SL when L first came out). Follow this:

Click on “Mission Control”, go to the right top corner of the screen to manually add new desktops.

After that, go to System Preferences… Keyboard… Keyboard Shortcuts… Mission Control

Now you will see some new keyboard shortcuts, Switch to Desktop 1, 2, 3, etc and from there you can assign new keyboard shortcuts.

@john @ 28 – couldn’t agree more. RAM and SSD are better bang for the buck upgrades for most users than CPU.

@chris bertram @20 – I almost never upgrade. Despite what people say, OS X is just as bad as Windows at leaving behind artifacts and clutter. So it’s important to do fresh installs with each iteration.

And to add on to what a lot of others have said, most of the gestures are pretty worthless.


John P 05.14.12 at 4:09 pm

I upgraded last year and have never looked back. FileVault 2 is a huge improvement, the auto-save feature with built-in time-machine version control in OS X apps is great, and the signature annotation in Preview is indispensible. I can sign a pdf electronically and email it back to someone in a minute or two. No printer, paper , or fax machine necessary. This feature alone makes the upgrade worthwhile.

It seems to me that the kvetching about “save as” is a failure to understand proper version control and what it adds to editing of documents.


MattF 05.14.12 at 6:03 pm

I’ve been forced at work to upgrade from 10.5 to 10.7, and have spent the morning figuring out how to get things working again.

1) No more PPC applications, one old app had to be replaced.
2) No more Spaces, but Mission Control seems to be more-or-less equivalent.
3) Mouse scroll wheel directionality was rogered, but changing a mouse preference setting fixed that.
4) Window scroll bar directionality is rogered, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference, somewhat to my surprise.
5) Various small surprises and changes in Safari, e.g., downloading info appears in a toolbar gizmo instead of a separate window. I note that the Activity Window is still there, but not sure how to work it without a download window. Hmm.

And that’s pretty much it. A little surfing around suggests that early versions of 10.7x were buggy but the version I’ve got seems to work pretty well.


Bruce Baugh 05.14.12 at 6:25 pm

Lion’s been working fine for me, on MacBook and Mini. I think they made a mistake in removing quite so much color from UI elements like scrollbars, but then I love the auto-save and restoring of documents at app relaunch.


Substance McGravitas 05.14.12 at 6:30 pm

I think they made a mistake in removing quite so much color from UI elements like scrollbars

YES. My commute to work is long enough that I get to play around and make things, and being out and about and trying to find the slider in there is very annoying.


Adam Hyland 05.14.12 at 8:04 pm

I would upgrade to Lion (though you can go straight from SL to ML, so don’t worry). Many of the problems described here impact me but on a small scale. The biggest problems with lion seem to be:

1. Multiple monitor support is confused. Lion has trouble deciding how to treat full screen apps and spaces on multiple monitors.

2. Preview is GARBAGE. Compared to Snow Leopard, preview beachballs more, crashes more and has a less intuitive set of controls (namely the poor distinction between slide show and full screen). Much of this has to do with preview storing files to re-open on quitting so you can avoid it by forcing preview to not do that. But that’s a fiddly geek thing and shouldn’t be necessary for normal operations. I harp on this because preview is normally what I show PC users to explain why macs might be better than PCs and if that is borked I can’t very well proselytize.

3. Full screen apps have odd or undecided exit state. If you quit a full screen app it usually wants to return you to the first desktop. Sometimes this is good, but occasionally if you were working in the 2nd desktop it can piss you off. Also if you are in a 2nd or third desktop and start a new app (or a new window in a running, non full screen app) it can boot you to desktop 1 for no good reason.

4. Lion WILL break some third party tools. Because Lion is all 64 bit (and all Intel), some 3rd party tools might not work properly. If you use Truecrypt (which you should be) you need to update to a different set of FUSE libraries. Some programs in Wine will cease to function (and you’ll have trouble compiling wine properly to allow them to work). This is part of the mac experience–backwards compatibility doesn’t last forever.

5. Launchpad is terrible. It’s an incredibly boneheaded UI convention and serves neither experienced users or new converts.

All that said, I bought Lion within a few weeks of launch and I have never (in the aggregate) wished to return to SL. Swapping between spaces w/ a swipe of the trackpad is amazing. New safari is cool (though I still use chrome). Full screen apps are perfect for laptop screens. My chrome now has only the location bar and the tabs visible. Every other square mm of space is devoted to the website. You can do this w/ chrome on other operating systems but you lose some other elements (as chrome is the one controlling the screen, not the OS). The recovery partition is handy. I’m sure there are a hundred other improvements which I have simply internalized.


Adam Hyland 05.14.12 at 8:05 pm

Oh, and if you have a trackpad DON’T revert scrolling to the SL way! It takes a frustrating 3-5 days to get used to the scrolling but once you do you’ll understand why they switched it. Much m0re natural on a trackpad.

If you primarily use a mouse, the old method of scrolling is likely superior.


Yarrow 05.14.12 at 9:54 pm

Adam Hyland @ 37: If you use Truecrypt (which you should be)

Is Truecrypt superior to full-disk encryption with FileVault? I’d have counted the latter as one of the advantages of Lion.


Wax Banks 05.15.12 at 12:18 am

Sluggishness in Lion’s Finder seems (anecdotally) to be cured by a clean install, rather than an upgrade; this has been standard competent-user-with-a-bit-of-free-time procedure for many many years.

Once you’re used to the tweaked UI metaphors in Lion, it’s quite quick and intuitive. If you’re ‘heavily reliant’ on Your Precious Snowflake Habits, e.g. the Layout of Your Spaces in Spaces, then prepare to be reminded of your limitations. The Spaces replacement is fantastic for most users. (Note that no one is actually ‘reliant’ on a given layout for desktops, unless there’s multiple screens or somesuch involved. This is habit we’re talking about, not physical need.)

I quite like Lion on my laptop, and find friends’ Snow Leopard systems irritating for the same reason they find mine irritating. I continue to prefer the mouse to the trackpad for ergonomic reasons, but the iPad-style pinch/swipe/flick gestures are wonderfully physically intuitive, and well integrated in many apps.

Couldn’t tell you whether to wait for Mountain Lion — I hear nice things, many of them developer-facing — but I’m pleased with Lion.


Wax Banks 05.15.12 at 12:20 am

5. Launchpad is terrible. It’s an incredibly boneheaded UI convention and serves neither experienced users or new converts.

I’ve already forgotten that Launchpad exists, FWIW — Spotlight/Quicksilver(!!) is it for me, as for all right-thinking people. And yes, Quicksilver will follow you happily over to Lion like that nice English robot voice in Iron Man’s head.


Dilemma Goldman 05.15.12 at 12:36 am

Have you tried using Inkscape as a replacement for Expression? It’s Free and Open Source and works great for my design work :)


James Davies 05.15.12 at 1:09 am

Upgrading to Lion after you’ve made a bootable backup should be fine. It has a few nice new features, but I mostly don’t notice it. The best new feature is in Preview, you can “sign” PDF documents by holding up a piece of paper with your signature on it to the built-in iSight camera. It automatically scales and places it on the PDF signature line for you. Pretty slick.

I use Adobe CS5 with Lion. Mostly Photoshop, but some Illustrator. I’ve had no problems with it being any slower than before. Of course Adobe software is always buggy, slow and infuriating. But also indispensable, unfortunately.

I use a mid-2010 MacBook Pro 13″, so probably similar hardware to your 2009 iMac.

So go ahead and upgrade.


John Holbo 05.15.12 at 2:42 am

“Have you tried using Inkscape as a replacement for Expression?”

I’ve actually finally made the transition to Illustrator. Well, I’m making it. And I’m happy with it. It’s not that I needed free – although free is good! It’s just that I have spent literally 10 years using Creature House Expression, which was the world’s best illustration software in 2003 (I say). But in 2012? Not so much. It’s just hard to let go of something that you’ve worn so long that it fits like a glove.

From comments, I guess I’ll go for the clean install after cloning. That’s a bit nervous-making. Erasing your hard disc and all that. Yeesh. (I’m not one of those geeks who relishes these sorts of opportunities to live dangerously! Or so it sounds to me.) But I guess it’s the way to go. Today I’m off to by a new hard disc to do the necessary, I suppose.


nick s 05.15.12 at 3:08 am

Is Truecrypt superior to full-disk encryption with FileVault? I’d have counted the latter as one of the advantages of Lion.

Different uses. Truecrypt gives you cross-platform portability, so you can conceivably have a volume sitting in a Dropbox folder.


peter ramus 05.15.12 at 3:34 am

John, as for hanging on to your email adresss if you chose not to upgrade to Lion/Mountain Lion, see this Tidbits article.


John Holbo 05.15.12 at 5:38 am

Thanks peter, I’ve seen it. I think I’ll probably go for the upgrade, but do it clean.


Lane. 05.15.12 at 2:45 pm

Lion is only $29.99 and very stable. Take the half day to get used to the new scrolling. It’s so much more intuitive once you get the hang of it. And if you have an iOS device then you are scrolling the same on your computer and iPhone/iPad.


Bruce B 05.15.12 at 3:44 pm

If you are going to go to the trouble of a clean install, I would wait, especially if your main need for iCloud is just mail, as that is the one thing that DOES work well with Snow Leopard.

If you want calendar and contact sync with iCloud, see here (has tips for mail as well):

Apple will probably NOT release Mtn Lion at WWDC in early June, but they probably will announce a release date for sometime in the summer.

Personally, I will wait until the .1 release of Mtn Lion, unless the initial release is unusually clean (ha! as if…). I’ll be putting a larger faster HD in my MacBook and clean installing everything – haven’t done that since I bought the MacBook over 2 years ago.

I think there will be enough useful new features in Lion+MtnLion to make the upgrade worthwhile – Lion alone, not so much. The big reason I skipped Lion is that I still use Eudora for email (which needs Rosetta), but the change will have to come sometime, so might as well go ahead and make the leap. It’s going to suck to leave Eudora after 20+ years, not because there aren’t good replacements, but as you mentioned for Expression, a large part of the inertia is just being used to a certain way of doing work.


Jim 05.15.12 at 7:44 pm

As a Windows user, I’m amazed that people have to worry about things like this. Wow.


NomadUK 05.15.12 at 8:58 pm

Since I discovered that Apple is filtering my outgoing e-mail (bad enough that they spam-filter my incoming e-mail with no option to disable their filters), I decided to have nothing to do with either .Mac or iCloud or any other service they offer. I have my own domain and e-mail, and will be dropping my .Mac e-mail address as soon as the service dies.

As for Lion, I couldn’t care less. I’ll upgrade when I’m forced to (probably because a bug fix for Aperture ends up requiring it), and not before.


The Raven 05.16.12 at 2:29 am

There are numerous compatibility problems with Adobe Creative Suite versions prior to CS6 on Lion. I use CS4 and have not yet run into something I couldn’t work around, but it is possible you will. Also, I believe, features crucially important to pro video editing in Final Cut Pro were removed in the latest release, and I am not sure older releases run on Lion.


deft 05.16.12 at 5:35 am

I finally upgraded and its fine but I had already added RAM a while back, 2007 iMac. A few minor issues first 2-3 days. I am a happy trackpad user (it eliminated all carpal issues) and I even worked with a jammed knuckle using the trackpad last year, so that’s all good. Maybe trivial but I am annoyed at the shrinking of the traffic lights in left corner of window.


SL 05.18.12 at 9:03 am

Hello. I have 2 Macs and I stick with Snow Leopard. I tried Lion last summer but it sucked so I got my money back and rolled back to SL.
I had a MobileMe account. I tried iCloud but it sucks too (synch not working and I was losing contacts and calendar entries) so from summer 2011 I set up an automatic reply saying that email was to be terminated and to use a new gmail address from that time on.
I actually closed my MM subscription a couple of months ago, when everybody already had my new email.
I find autosave/version to be the biggest annoyance (and potential danger) in Lion.
I needed a new computer last month and i bought a Linux box. I needed a new phone and I got a Galaxy SII.
I installed OwnCloud on my Linux box and I synch everything from everywhere (and my data stays on MY server).
Mountain Lion could be better than Lion or not. Once I see it I will decide to come back to Apple or to leave it forever.


Wax Banks 05.18.12 at 6:26 pm

As a Windows user, I’m amazed that people have to worry about things like this. Wow.

Cleverest satire of the week!


Substance McGravitas 05.18.12 at 6:34 pm

Cleverest satire of the week!

Not entirely, I don’t think. I’m a Windows user at work and one of the programs I use on a regular basis was written in 2000.


Neil 05.21.12 at 12:28 am

As a Mac user, I’m always surprised to see idiotic comments from windows trolls in forums like this.

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