Mac OS X: Make Snow Leopard (and other cats) roar like Lion

Tips and tools for getting Lion-like features today

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Beyond simply auto-saving your work, ForeverSave can maintain multiple versions of your documents as you make changes to them, much as Lion's Versions does. You can even choose how many versions of auto-saved documents are maintained and when they are erased. ForeverSave also allows you to set multiple auto-save operations to serve as an extra backup.

While an iOS-like auto-resume function -- the ability to close an app and later pick up exactly where you left off when you closed it -- isn't built into ForeverSave, its one-click restore option comes close.

ForeverSave may be worth using even in Lion. Apple is making auto-save a priority and giving developers tools to implement the feature. But the company may not make it a requirement for all Mac software (particularly titles sold outside the Mac App Store), and it probably will not be added to previous applications that haven't been upgraded specifically for Lion. Likewise, it remains to be seen if Versions will automatically support all applications and document formats or if developers will need to explicitly choose to support it.

ForeverSave costs $15; a 30-day free trial version is also available.

Another option that offers some Versions-like features is the Dropbox online storage service. Although most commonly used to share and sync files across multiple computers and mobile devices, Dropbox does offer version tracking. That feature isn't included in the Mac Dropbox app but can be easily accessed by logging into your account at the Dropbox website.

There is very limited restore capability connected to a free Dropbox account, but a Pro account offers a feature called Pak-Rat that provides extensive restore or rewind capabilities. Pricing varies depending on the type of account you have and on the amount of space you use.

AirDrop

Apple has always aimed to make file sharing as simple as possible. Bonjour, Apple's no-configuration network protocol, makes it easy to locate Macs on a local network that have file sharing active -- they simply show up (along with any non-Mac computers or file servers) in the sidebar of Finder windows.

That's great, but to share a file with someone, you must know the name of their Mac, that Mac must have file sharing turned on, and you must have access to an account on that Mac (unless the other person has left guest access enabled, which is never a good idea for security reasons). Lion will include a feature called AirDrop that simplifies the process and offers a bit more security.

According to Apple, AirDrop will be listed in a Finder window sidebar. Click AirDrop and you'll see a list of Mac users with AirDrop enabled who are connected to your network. To send a file, simply drag it to a user's name. That user will see an alert that you are sending a file, with the option to accept or reject the transfer. If he accepts, the file will be added to his Downloads folder.

There aren't many third-party options that mimic AirDrop, but DropCopy is a free app available for Macs running Snow Leopard, Leopard or Tiger. (It's $4.99 if you need to install it on more than three Macs.) Its goal is essentially the same as AirDrop's.

DropCopy
DropCopy brings drag-and-drop file sharing to Macs on the same network.

When installed on two or more Macs on a local network, an icon called the Drop Zone appears on the desktop of each. Dragging files to the Drop Zone will display a list of available Macs with DropCopy running. Drag the file(s) onto a specific Mac and it will copy to that Mac. (Users specify where they want copied files to be placed when they install DropCopy.) DropCopy also allows you to transfer contents between the clipboards of two Macs.

One major difference between AirDrop and DropCopy is that AirDrop requires user confirmation before a transfer takes place (a big plus when connected to public or office networks), whereas DropCopy does not.

Note: A version of DropCopy for iOS is also available; it lets you send files on a Mac to an iPhone or iPad (or vice versa), or share files between two iOS devices.

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