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I always like to keep up with the lastest operating system to test, if not outright install and run right away. When Mountain Lion was released last week I was prepared to test it out, knowing that first releases generally have problems. While I usually install on my laptop first, my MacBook is one generation too old to run the new OS. Solution? I cloned my iMac internal drive to an external drive and installed it there.

The download took so much time, that I decided to copy it to a flash drive, knowing that I would eventually install it on my main drive. It’s easy to do. After it finishes downloading and opens, just quit the installer and go to the Applications folder. Do it as soon as you download, as it is designed to erase itself after installation. Yes, you can always download it again, but it’s much faster to copy it to or from a flash drive. You have been warned.

As soon as it installed and the computer restarted, I went to System Preferences to disable Spotlight indexing. To disable it (for the moment) click on the Privacy tab and add your drive to it. You can reenable it later. If you don’t disable it now, it will cause a major slowdown until it’s finished. I deleted the drive from the Privacy list before I went to bed so it could work all night when I wouldn’t need the computer.

So, first impression — speed increase! The speed increase alone is worth the $20. Everything seems zippier, especially Safari. On the other hand, Apple has decided that we don’t need RSS. I knew it was coming, so I’ve been using NetNewsWire for the last couple of months. If you’ve already updated and want to recover those feed addresses, download a copy of DredgeFeeds. It’s donationware and does a very nice job.

If you have a Magic Trackpad, you have a new gesture. Swipe two fingers to the left from the right edge, and the window moves over to reveal the Notifications window. I think this is my favorite addition. If you are running iOS 5 on an iPhone or iPad, you’re already familiar with the Notifications center. While I find Notifications a nuisance on my iPad, I love the Mountain Lion version. If email comes in while I’m in the middle of something, a quick swipe shows me what it is, and I can decide if it’s something that needs an immediate answer or if it’s just another joke from one of my friends. That quick swipe also shows me what’s on my calendar. Go to the Notifications Preference Panel to set how you wish to be notified and in what order. Easy.

Mail has a new feature called VIPs. It’s like smart mailboxes, but you just need to move to the left of a name and click the star to add that name to VIPs. It’s like a specialized inbox and much faster to use if you want to see all of the messages from a specific person.

Finally, Launchpad is what it should have been all along. It now has a search bar. Bring it up and start typing the name of the app you want. When it appears, launch it. That’s it. No more scrolling through screens to find the right one. It should have had this in the first place. Yes, you can do this with Spotlight, but Launchpad only shows apps.

That’s it for this week. I’m sure that Jack and Chita will have more for you, and I’ll have more to share next week. All in all, nice job Apple.

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