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Saturday, February 26, 2011, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Inside Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: New Dock, Finder & Desktop


Launchpad

One final step in merging the iPad experience with the Mac OS X desktop is Launchpad, a new app that simply blurs the Mac desktop out and displays an array of app icons very similar to the iPad Home page. Multiple screens of apps can be slid between with a two-fingered swipe navigation, each with rows of icons that can be grouped into iOS-style Folders by dragging them on top of each other.

There's no need to touch and hold apps to enter a "jiggle" mode in order to rearrange them; the user can simply click and drag apps into their preferred location, or within organizing Folders. Using Launchpad is still a bit rough around the edges, with some remaining quirks related to dragging apps around, and no obvious way to remove apps you don't want to appear. The app shows every application you have installed within your Applications folder, so there is currently going to be a lot of stuff you probably don't want to access quickly.

Despite its work in progress status, Launchpad is a welcomed improvement over trying to find an app (that's not in your Dock) manually, particularly for users who don't understand the concept of digging through the filesystem to locate a program, and aren't aware they can use Spotlight to call up an app by name (or for users who want to launch an app they recognize by icon, but can't recall the name). The new feature is essentially the Applications folder as a Dock Stack, but with more simplicity and familiar commonality with iOS.

Finder icon dragging

In addition to the flexible new window controls that appear everywhere in Lion, and the new source list and view controls present in the Finder, the new update also enhances how selections of files are dragged between or within Finder windows.

New in Lion, when a selection of files is dragged to the source sidebar, or to the desktop, or to another window, the selection is represented as a collection, badged with a count of the items in the selection, and with a display that transforms to reflect the view settings it is dragged over.

For example, a selection of icons dragged to the source sidebar is shifted to a set of small icons listed in a an easily readable row, but when dragged to the desktop, the icons morph into larger sized representations in a stack. Dragged to a different Finder window, the same stack takes on the characteristics of its destination.