How to Use About This Mac on OS X Lion

Apple’s new operating system, OS X 10.7 Lion, has been out for about a week now and there are still a few features being discovered by various users. One of these features is the new About This Mac interface, listed as one of Chris Pirillo’s top 10 features of OS X Lion. For it to have made this list, it must be good, right?

First off, About This Mac has been an important part of OS X since the early days. Being able to see the basic specifications and OS version at a glance can help you determine what you’re running. This comes in handy during the early stages of troubleshooting since a problem can often be related to out of date software. The first thing you see when you open About This Mac is a screen that tells you the version of your OS, processor and memory specifications, and the name of your startup disk. After bringing home a new Mac or upgrading the RAM on an existing one, this is the first place you should check after firing up your machine for the first time.

From this screen, you can choose to check for software updates by clicking the Software Update… button located directly below the version number. This will run a check on the operating system and any supported software. Updates are then automatically downloaded and applied to the system. To this point, not a lot has changed from Snow Leopard.

Another option you’ll find on this pane is the More Info… button. Clicking this option will take you to a wider and more graphically detailed set of information about your Mac. Information is categorized and split between several different tabs allowing you to quickly switch between them as you seek out the data you need.

The first tab is an overview area that tells you the processor, memory, graphics card, serial number, and operating system version information. Buttons at the bottom of this tab will take you to the classic System Report, which gives you extremely detailed information about every aspect of your Mac from stem to stern. The other option will run a software update just as mentioned previously.

The next tab is the Displays area. Here, you can find out information about your current display including the size, resolution, and which graphics card is handling it. A button at the bottom will take you directly over to Display Preferences.

Storage comes next. In this area, all of your hard drives are visually represented along with graphs indicating how much of each drive is used on a particular kind of data. For example, movies and audio are listed separately. A button on the bottom will take you directly to the Disk Utility where you can format, partition, and perform various other tasks related to storage.

Memory comes next and with it an incredibly interesting readout showing you exactly what you have installed in which port. If you’re not sure what your Mac can handle as far as upgrades or additional sticks of RAM, this will give you an immediate view of the current state of these slots. On the bottom of this window is a link to Apple’s memory upgrade instructions so you can add additional RAM yourself without voiding warranties.

The final two tabs are for Support and Service. If you have any questions about your Mac, you can head over there and find out where to go to get the answers you need. If you are unable to troubleshoot a problem, or professional repair is required, the Service tab will get you to the right place.

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