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5 great Lion features for editors

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion was released earlier today. I've heard a couple of people say they're not enthusiastic about it and, with features like Autosave and Launchpad, it's mainly geared at consumers. I completely disagree and here's my list of five features that are great for editors and video professionals (in no particular order).


Even in the 21st century, many people I know still use good old Sneakernet to distribute files between computers. People still use such a low-tech method of transferring files because the machines don't need to be networked to each other, there's no setup process and you're not opening yourself up to potential security issues (assuming the files and the drive are virus-free, of course).

AirDrop allows you to send files to people physically located nearby who are not necessarily on the same Wi-Fi network. When you want to send a file to someone, both of you click the AirDrop icon in the Finder sidebar and you then drag the file onto the person's name. If they accept the file, it is encrypted and sent directly to their Downloads folder.

You only appear to other users on the network if you have the AirDrop folder open. This provides greater privacy and security than having regular file sharing running constantly.

Lion Server and Xsan

Every Mac now has the potential to be a server for just $50, giving you a great deal of control over your system and the users that access it.

Lion now includes Xsan, a network file system popular with video editors. This used to cost $999 so it's a huge saving for large installations.

AV Foundation

Love it or loathe it, you can't deny that Final Cut Pro X is built on a great technical foundation. AV Foundation ships with Lion and allows developers to utilize the same technology in their applications. It's something we plan to explore to improve future versions of Pro Media Tools.

It's also worth noting that the QuickTime 7 API is still there so existing QuickTime applications will continue to work. Final Cut Pro 7 runs just fine in Lion.

Merging folders

This feature has been part of Windows for decades and I'm surprised it's taken this long to make it to the Mac. If you drag a folder onto another folder with the same name, it now gives you the option to merge the two together. This is a huge timesaver.


We're big fans of incremental backups, which is why we created FCP Versioner. It's great to see something similar included in the OS for applications that support it.

Other nice features include the ability to encrypt an entire drive without a perceptible performance drop (according to Apple's marketing), OpenGL 3.2, Resume and Time Machine local snapshots, for recovering files when you're on the road without your Time Capsule or backup drive.

Lion seems faster too - I've seen noticeable performance improvements in all of our applications when run under Lion.

Of course, there are downsides too. Firstly, it's only available from the Mac App Store. If you are running OS X 10.5 Leopard, you will need to first upgrade to 10.6 Snow Leopard in order to access the store and download Lion. Apple will be selling Lion USB keys for $69 in August for users on Leopard or without broadband internet access.

Secondly, Rosetta is dead. This means that applications built for PowerPC computers will not work on Lion, including the Final Cut Studio 2 installer.

Thirdly, for some reason Apple decided to invert scrolling in Lion, meaning that dragging two fingers down scrolls up and vice versa. This would work well on a touchscreen but feels unnatural with a scroll mouse or trackpad. Fortunately it can be disabled in System Preferences but I don't know why Apple decided to make this the default.

Fourthly, features that some professionals have been demanding for a while, such as OpenGL 4.1, 10-bit monitor support and Blu-ray playback via third party drives still haven't materialized.

Overall, I think Lion is a step forward for professionals that provides much-needed additions to OS X. Driver and application support will likely take a while to catch up, despite the beta period, so as a rule I wouldn't recommend using it for professional use until the .3 or .4 update ships, even though I've actually found it to be quite stable in my testing.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jul 20 2011 to Apple, Software, Analysis