Apple Inc. has equipped its newly released OS X Mountain Lion operating system with features from the company’s mobile platform, including some that are popular with real estate agents. But before rushing to the App Store to upgrade your Mac, it’s important to make sure the critical software you’re using today is compatible.

For those keeping score at home, Mountain Lion is version 10.8 of Apple’s operating system for laptops and desktops. The system is available via the App Store as an upgrade for $19.99. Most Macs made since 2008 and 2009 can be upgraded, and iMacs and MacBook Pros made as long ago as mid-2007 will also run Mountain Lion.

Unlike Microsoft’s responsive approach to Windows 8, which is scheduled to be released at the end of October, Apple’s strategy has been to differentiate its mobile and desktop operating systems. But Apple’s latest desktop OS offering continues to gravitate toward iOS, the company’s mobile operating system, porting over numerous features from its mobile platform.

Here are two steps for a smooth transition:

1. Compile a list of your critical software and cross-reference the list with Roaring Apps. Roaring Apps is a helpful compatibility wiki that will let you know if your current software applications are compatible with Mountain Lion. Just enter the software title and version to get the results.

My local MLS application supports only Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer. Like many Mac users in the real estate industry, I utilize Windows on my Mac via Parallels (virtualization software) in order to access my MLS. I discovered that Mountain Lion requires the latest Parallels build, so my older version of the software needed to be upgraded. Also, my Canon EOS Utility software will not work at all.

2. After cross-referencing your software compatibility list, it is critical that you backup your system. Users of OS X’s built-in backup system, Time Machine, can simply run a backup to their external drive.

After you have completed these two essential steps, downloading and installing Mountain Lion from the App Store can take up to two hours, depending upon the speed of your system and Internet connection.

There are a bunch of new features in Mountain Lion, some more subtle than others. Let’s take a look at five of the cooler features:

1. AirPlay Mirroring

Let’s start with one of the most anticipated new features, AirPlay. This one is a game-changer. You iPhone and iPad users are already familiar with AirPlay, a technology that allows you to stream content from your iOS device to an AppleTV-enabled high-definition television set. Mountain Lion is the first Mac OS to ship with AirPlay Mirroring, allowing you to share your screen wirelessly with an HD display connected to AppleTV. AirPlay has the potential to not only transform the living room but the conference room as well. This feature will certainly add wow factor to presentations.

Important note: AirPlay Mirroring works only with Apple computers produced after 2011 and second-generation or newer AppleTVs. Click here to confirm which Mac version you have. If you have an older Mac that does not support AirPlay mirroring, give AirParrot a try. It’s an inexpensive app that is comparable to AirPlay.

Click here to learn more about AirPlay Mirroring.

2. Safari

Mountain Lion comes packaged with Safari 6. As a dedicated Google Chrome user, I was quite impressed with the latest Safari Web browser. One of the most popular features of Chrome has always been the address bar (omnibox), which also acts as a search box. Safari has finally introduced a smart search field and it functions extremely well. The updated browser also includes a built-in Share Button to quickly share Web content via social media or email and iCloud Tabs that sync your Web browsing with other iOS devices.

Click here to learn more about Safari.

3. Renaming documents

I always love shortcuts that save a busy Realtor time. Mountain Lion includes a subtle new feature that I really like. You can now quickly rename an opened document right from the document’s title bar. It’s an understated feature but a welcome one nonetheless.

4. Share Sheets

Mountain Lion has sharing natively built into the operating system. Share Sheets appear in applications and allow you to easily share content to social media outlets or email. The ability to tweet directly from the file can be a real time saver.

5. Notification Center

Apple ported over the Notification Center from iOS to Mountain Lion. Many real estate agents at my firm utilize the iOS notification system and will be glad to have it on their Macs. The Notification Center is almost identical to the iOS version. It includes the ability to tweet and displays software updates available from the App Store. It’s also worth noting that Apple moved the traditional Software Update to the App Store in Mountain Lion.

Click here to learn more about the Notification System.

Apple continues to refine Mac OS X — further converging its mobile and desktop operating systems. I imagine the two will be even more streamlined this fall when the latest version of iOS is released and includes even deeper sharing integration with Facebook. If you’re a Mac user contemplating the upgrade, give it a try. Just be sure to cross-reference your software and backup.

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