5 productivity tips for OS X Mountain Lion

I’ve been running Mountain Lion since February thanks to the developer preview, and I’ve come to appreciate how it’s made a positive impact on my productivity. While this version of OS X(s AAPL) is clearly evolutionary, building upon the foundation laid in Lion, I’ve found it does a lot of little things to make my life easier. Now, with the final version of the software available to everyone, I’m going to share with you five easy tips I think will help you get the most out of the new OS.

1. Mail VIP rules

I get a lot of email. Like most people, the amount of e-mail I get that actually matters is a small percentage. Mountain Lion’s Notification Center lets you set banner alerts for incoming email. Thankfully, this makes it possible to reduce the noise. Instead of also getting notifications for Groupon(s GRPN) and enhancement product spam, you can filter that list for people you’ve designated as VIPs.
While you can set whether the Mail app’s notifications are banners, popups, and have badge icons in the Notification Center preferences, you have to set the VIP-only notification within the Mail App preferences.

To designate a person as a VIP from within a mail message from that person, click the star next to their name. This will cause mail to notify you only if you get an email from these people, as well as place their email messages in the VIP folder in Mail.

2. Notes

I don’t really use Notes for capturing information. These days, I still find paper and pen the easiest way to quickly jot down notes in a meeting. However, I do use Notes to store information I will want to refer to often. For example: all of my dial-in meeting and leader codes are stored in Notes. I have a guitar amp that does modeling, so I store my favorite settings for reference if the amp needs to be reset. The best part is Notes also syncs with iOS Notes, so I’ll have them with me always.

3. Reminders

Thankfully divorced from iCal, tasks are now stored in a standalone app, Reminders. While I still use OmniFocus to do the bulk of my heavy task management due to its easy handling of repeating tasks, I’ve found Reminders excellent for important one-off tasks. Since Reminders also uses Location Services on Mountain Lion, I will often set a reminder for a task I need to complete when I get home. Like Notes, it’s likely that users of both iOS and OS X will get the most value out of this, but now that it’s a standalone app, OS X users who hated iCal may find more value from it.

4. iCloud Preview

Preview is the latest app to also support Documents in the Cloud. While there’s no iOS version of Preview currently available, I’ve found a couple of uses for Preview and iCloud: storing PDFs I want to reference on more than one computer, and yet another backup of crucial PDFs. I’ve got copies of agreements, my fishing licenses and the like also in iCloud. This makes it easy to get my computer up and running quickly after a hardware fault, as well as prevent against accidental deletion of local files.

5. The return of Save As

One of the most criticized “improvements” in Lion was the removal of Save As, forcing users to Duplicate, then Save any file they wanted a second copy of under a different name. Thankfully, Save As is back with Mountain Lion. The bad news? It seems the only way to invoke it is with a keyboard shortcut, command-option-shift S. Better put that one in your Notes. No, I don’t know why it’s not a menu choice, either.
These are 5 tips I’ve found that improve my Mountain Lion experience. As always, feel free to share any of yours in the comments.