Some Tips to Help Novice Users Get Started with Lion

Should novice users upgrade to OS X Lion?

I’ve actually given this a lot thought, based on the fact that there are a lot of changes in Lion.  On the other hand, installing Lion was so smooth and easy, that anyone who follows the directions can do it.  You can visit my personal blog and read the instructions I added about the steps I followed to install Lion.  Of course, a lot of other people have put instructions on the Internet as well, so anyone can search for help.

So back to my premise.  If you have had your Mac for a few months and it is a fairly current model, then you probably have been learning on Snow Leopard.  Snow Leopard is great, but Lion is the future (at least for now).  I figure that if you want to really be a Mac user, you should want to be part of what everyone else is using.  Even people buying new computers for the first time are going to be current with Lion.  Their new Macs will have it installed and they will be getting training at the Mac store if they purchase it there.

There is no reason for novices to be afraid to jump in and just transfer your learning curve from Snow Leopard to Lion.  Just look at The Mac Observer in the days since Lion has been released.  There has been column after story after tip about Lion to make the transition easier.  It is actually the most convenient time to make the switch.

In that spirit I offer a few tips.  These are things that are different in Lion than they were in Snow Leopard or things you never could do before.

How To Scroll in Safari

When you open Safari in Lion most of it looks familiar.  However, when you decide to use the scroll bar you will be caught up short.  There are no arrows at the top and bottom of the scroll bar that let you scroll by page or by line, or however you had them set in Snow Leopard.  If you check in the Preferences you will discover there are no options for adding them back in.

I discovered this while trying to review a website with 50 items on it.  I had a terrible time trying to stop and look at each one.

Two solutions.  Lion is designed to encourage us to use the trackpads on our laptop models or purchase a Magic Trackpad for our desktop models.  With a trackpad we just place the cursor inside the page we are working with and move up and down by placing two fingers on the trackpad and moving them up and down.  We have complete control of where a page starts and stops using our finger movements.  That is solution one.

Solution two is for those who don’t want to use a trackpad or don’t have one to use.  

  • Place the cursor on the scroll bar and continuously tap the Up or Down Arrow Key on your keyboard to move up or down a couple of lines at a time, depending on what size you have set as your default font.
  • Place the cursor on the scroll bar and hold down the Control Key or the Option Key and the Up Arrow Key on your keyboard.  The Safari window will move up in increments.
  • Place the cursor on the scroll bar and hold down the Control Key or the Option Key and the Down Arrow Key on your keyboard.  The Safari window will move down in increments.
  • Place the cursor on the scroll bar and hold down the Command Key and the Up or Down Arrow Key on your keyboard.  The Safari window will move to the top or bottom of the page depending on which arrow you choose.

How To Make The Scroll Bar Show Up

It won’t take you long to realize that you don’t get a full size scroll bar any longer.  It is very easy to bring the full size scroll bar back.

  • Select Apple Menu > System Preferences > General
  • Click the “Always” button under Show Scroll Bars

Bringing Back the Scrollbar in Lion

Choose the always button

This works in safari, Pages, PDF, Mail, Numbers and even in Word and Excel.

The New Voices Available in Lion and How To Get Them

Apple has added a whole cadre of new voices to Lion and whether you use the voices because you are visually impaired, as a proofreading technique, or just to have a voice read to you, you will probably love some of the new options.  If you are an English speaker you can have accents from Ireland, England, or Australia.  You can also choose languages from numerous other countries.

Open System Preferences > Speech > Text to Speech.  At System Voice, open the menu and choose “Custom”.  Select any voice you want to add.  Many of the voices will have to be downloaded to your system and that will be indicated by the appearance of a yellow triangle when you click on the box next to the voice name.

New Voices in Lion

Select custom voices

Once your voices of choice have been downloaded, you just click on the one you want to use at any given time.

How To Search in Mail Using The Sort Feature

Lion Mail has a new feature that lets you sort your mail.  This is a big help if you are searching for, say a message that you sent to a specific person.

With Mail open decide what you want to sort (all your mail, your sent mail, your trash, your junk).  Highlight that choice. Then select View > Sort By.  Then from the options presented make your selections.  Perhaps “To” in the first set and “Descending” in the second.

Sorting in Mail

In this example every email you have sent to Joe Sample will be clumped together.  You still have to scroll through the list to find Joe’s group, but what a time saver this is.

The only modifier on this will be whatever time limit you have set on how long you keep messages.  If you want to check your settings, open Mail Preferences > Accounts > Mailbox Behaviors and you can make changes if you wish.

Using The New Versions Save Feature

When using some applications in In Lion—especially Apple’s own apps here at the beginning—when you try to save a document you no longer have the option to “Save” or “Save As” that was available in Snow Leopard and previous operating systems.  The first time you save a document you will be allowed to name and save it.  After that,  your only option will be to “Save A Version,” which you can see in the figure below.  (As of this writing, not many third party applications have been updated to take advantage of this feature yet.)

Save a Version

Save a Version in applications that have been built for Lion

This feature works independently and you do not have to have Time Machine set up for Versions to work.

Successive versions of any document are automatically and periodically saved. Depending on your job or lifestyle you can probably imagine times when you make changes only to discover you need to revert back to an earlier version because…Well, fill in the blanks.

All you have to do is select “Revert to Saved” from the File Menu, as seen in the figure below, and much like Time Machine, you will be given a menu of all the saved versions of your document.

Revert to Saved

Revert to Saved has been highlighted in this screenshot


In the figure below, I’ve gone into “Revert to Saved,” which pulls up an interface similar to (but separate from) Time Machine. If you haven’t used Time Machine, don’t worry about it for now.

The page on the left is the current version of the document I am working on.  The ones on the right that trail off into the distance are the various saved versions that Lion has saved for me along the way.  I can click on any of the earlier versions and get the time it was saved and then choose it by clicking the restore button, or I can click on a different earlier version and keep checking until I find the one I need - at which point I click the restore button and the older version becomes my current working version.

Using Versions in Lion

Using Versions in Lion

These are my “help you get started with Lion tips,” and I hope they help!  Remember this is the Mac community we are part of here and everyone is ready to help so go for it.