5 Highly Useful Productivity Apps and Features in the New Mountain Lion

Bakari Chavanu 04-08-2012

best productivity apps lionWe covered some of the cool new features in Mountain Lion when it was first released to developers at the beta level back in February. And now after less than twenty-four hours of getting my hands on it, I’ve had a chance to go beyond a first look of the new OS and discover some of the most welcomed productivity features. For me, computers are about getting things done faster and more efficiently, and while Mountain Lion may not roar, it is a great sign of things to come.


As usual, Apple says there are 200+ new features in OS X 10.8, and perhaps if you look hard enough you might find them all. But what you get in terms of productivity for a $20.00 download are Notification Center, text dictation, Notes and Reminders, expanded iCloud features for managing documents, and Mail VIPs.

Text Dictation

I’m going to start with my personal most favorite feature: text dictation. Though writing dictation software Stop Typing: Better Learn To Dictate Text with Dragon Dictate for Mobile Devices [iOS] Nuance's iPhone apps, Dragon and Dragon Search have been available for free download for over a year now. Since then, the company has added a few other similar voice to text apps to its line... Read More , namely Dragon Dictate for the Mac, has been around for a while, it is now built-in to the Mac operating system. You can actually dictate words in a text field of an application, and what you say will be typed for you. If you have an iPhone 4S, you most likely are already using this feature.

The text dictation feature is not as fully featured as Dragon Dictate, but it is an awesome and mostly accurate tool for dictating short e-mail messages, tweets, Google searches, and webpage comments. To initiate a dictation, double-click the fn button on your keyboard, and when prompted to do so, dictate a sentence or two. Speak clearly and not too fast. When you’re done press the fn key again (or the Return key) to see what you said get typed ten times faster than you could manually.

In System Preferences > Dictation & Speech, you can change the keyboard shortcut, language, and which mic the Dictation feature uses. Now how is  that for a cool little time saver?

best productivity apps lion


Notification Center

Notification Center, also an iOS 5 features, enables you to preview your e-mail messages, calendar alerts, Twitter notifications, and more, by simply clicking a button in the upper right side of your desktop.

lion productivity tips

Notification Center also delivers Growl-like notifications as they arrive. You may or may not find this obtrusive, but it saves users the trouble of opening applications just to view mail messages and Twitter updates, for example.

By the way, you can turn Notifications on and off by scrolling up to the top of Notification Center and clicking the button. The top of Notification Center is also where you can write and post a Twitter updates—again saving you the trouble of opening your Twitter client.


lion productivity tips



Though checking email is always a dreaded task,  the new VIPs feature in Mail may help you manage important emails a lot better. You can select and mark any contact as a VIP, and the emails from that contact will be put into a special smart mailbox. All your VIPs can be accessed in the side panel of Mail.

lion productivity tips


You can also open Mail Preferences > General and select to have your VIPs email notices show up in new message notifications on your desktop—because hey, they are really that special.

lion productivity

To mark a contact as a VIP, place your cursor on the immediate left side of the sender’s name in an email message, and click on the star, which is barely visible. This is a one-click process that saves you the trouble of setting up a smart mailbox.

iCloud Documents

Let’s face it, not too many of us want to spend our time managing documents on our computer. Though I perform the task pretty well, it’s now going to be easier to save some documents to iCloud, which means those documents can be retrieved from any supported Mac or iOS device.


lion productivity

So in Mountain Lion you now have the choice to save your documents (created in TextEdit, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) in your iCloud account or in your Finder. As you type, your text gets automatically saved and when you switch say from writing in Pages on your Mac to writing in pages on your iPad, your documents should be automatically updated between devices.

When you first open your updated apps on your supporting iCloud devices, they will link and update to whatever documents you already have in your iCloud account. The updates between say a Pages document on the iPad to a Pages document on the Mac can occur while both documents are still open; however, it might take several seconds to see the update appear.

When you open a document, you will get a choice to open the updated version, or make a copy of the original version before the update.

lion productivity

Clicking on the title in the tool bar of a document also now enables you to rename that document, move it to another location, duplicate or lock it, or browse and open previous versions.

Mountain lion 6

Oh, and one more thing: Save As has been brought back to text applications in Mountain Lion. You won’t find it in File > Menu where it was originally; instead, you have to evoke it with the keyboard shortcut, Command+Option+S.

For Apple users with more than one device, this fuller integration with iCloud is another time saver.

Notes and Reminders

The last major productivity tool, for me anyway, are the iCloud-intergrated Notes and Reminders applications now in OS X, as well as iOS devices. Like text documents, these applications update your entered reminders and notes between all devices. It happens nearly in real time.

best productivity apps lion

Note also in that in both apps you get the choice to write and save documents locally to your device, or in iCloud account. And I hadn’t noticed it before, but you also can create folders for your notes (File > New Folder on the Mac, and tap the Accounts button on the iOS app to view and add folders.)

The biggest missing feature of both these applications is that you can’t access them from the menu bar of your Mac. You have to bring the applications to the front in order to add or view data.

The above are a handful of my personal productivity applications and features. Let us know about your most useful finds in Mountain Lion. What did I overlook?

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. medusozoa
    August 7, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I have not changed into Mountain Lion yet because I'm afraid of software incompatibilities... but overall, Mountain Lion seems much better than its Lion counterpart. I just hope Apple doesn't throw another curveball at us in the near future, saying that Mountain Lion will be old due to the "upcoming" RAINBOW LION. Oh gosh Apple, stop getting new OS upgrades... I don't mind software updates though. (:

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 7, 2012 at 2:07 am

      I can't run Mountain Lion on my Mac Pro, and it is only six years old. So I no longer have any confidence about what Apple will do with its software and hardware. It seems like it's about concentrating on the bottom line. Don't get me wrong, I'm and have it Apple user, but I don't think that the company always respects its devoted customers.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Medusozoa, you might check out this site ( to see which apps are not updated for Mountain Lion.

  2. medusozoa
    August 7, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I'm looking forward to getting Mountain Lion, but I'm still afraid of software incompatibilities.... but overall, Mountain Lion seems much better than its Lion counterpart.

  3. Eugene
    August 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    That's it, you convinced me... I'm upgrading today!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Cool, Eugene, let us know which features you end up using the most.

  4. VS Vishnu
    August 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    text dictation..

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Yep, that's one of my favorite features. Just wish I could use it on my Mac Pro. Thanks for your feedback, VS.

  5. Timothy Liem
    August 4, 2012 at 1:23 am

    well, Ubuntu had notification center since Natty (11.04) and got integration with Ubuntu One since Lucyd (10.04). just saying..

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 4, 2012 at 5:12 am

      Lol, I hear you Timothy. I've never tried Ubuntu. Feel like I should look into it.