The Ups and Downs of Mac OS X Lion

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Pulled out your e-wallet and deposited $30 in Apple’s coffers for a digital copy of OS X Lion? Patiently (or not so patiently) sucked all 4GB down and rolled through the upgrade process with all your applications more or less intact and functional? Figured out that a lot of the changes you don’t like (say, auto-disappearing scrollbars, or app-switching snarls) can be swapped for the “old way of doing things” by fiddling settings tucked away in app and system preferences?

You’re not alone. I’m slowly finding my way back to some semblance of Snow Leopard’s grace and elegance, albeit with compromises. For instance, I still can’t get the “show desktop” gesture to function reliably, and since I actually spend eight or nine hours a day working on my Apple laptop—now an even tinier 11-inch MacBook Air—being able to quickly, dependably clear my workspace is something that’s sorely missed (as is a simple option to re-map the gesture under Trackpad settings). I’m also having to hit ‘fn-F12’ to invoke Dashboard, something I miss being able to do with a simple F4 tap.

(MORE: How I Dislike Thee, OS X Lion, Let Me Count the Ways)

But on balance, Lion seems to be coming together convincingly. I’m fully acclimated to the iOS-like scrolling switcheroo, and yes, in keeping with Apple’s “you are the finger” angle, it’s now commendably Apple device consistent (even if the “disparity” never troubled me before). I switched Mission Control back to Expose’s discrete, divisional approach, because I just don’t have enough open at once to warrant subcategorizing. I’ve actually started using LaunchPad in lieu of dock shortcuts or clicking ‘Go’ from the default Finder view to summon the Applications or Utilities folders. And I’m not sure why, but the iCal sync errors have ceased. All’s well then.

[UPDATE: I’ve unintentionally misled a few readers. When I say “I switched Mission Control back to Expose’s discrete, divisional approach,” I’m referring to the Trackpad -> More Gestures option to invoke ‘App Expose’, which sorts within an app, but—alas—isn’t the same as the original Expose, which did this for everything.]

Maybe it’s because I’m now running Lion on one of the new MacBook Airs. I’d previously loaded it as an upgrade overlaying Snow Leopard on a mid-2010 MacBook Pro. I’m also pretty sure a crippling issue with Adobe Photoshop CS5, where the ‘Save to Web’ option invokes a dialogue window too big for the screen (and which minimizing/maximizing does nothing to fix), is actually an Adobe issue, possibly to do with running at the MBA’s native resolution of 1366 x 768 (though Adobe claims to support as low as 1024 x 768). Whatever the case, you’ve maybe heard Adobe’s sitting on a nest of Lion compatibility bugs.

But on balance, the critical response to Lion has been overwhelmingly positive, and the consumer reaction in App Store reviews concurs. Of 14,745 ratings, nearly 12,000 give Apple’s new cat five (out of five) stars. I’ve scrolled through many of the most critical one-star reviews, and the chief complaint stems from application compatibility, followed by quibbles about the download time (full disclosure, when I updated my wife’s late-2010 MBA, I had to reinitiate the download process thrice to get it going).

No one’s sure when we’ll see the first update, but it should be along soon. Apple released a 10.7.2 beta update to developers on Monday, implying that 10.7.1 could be ready to deploy imminently.

REVIEW: With OS X Lion, Apple’s Macs Enter the iPad Era

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.