Searching for system information on a Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard can be confusing to the uninitiated. For example, if you're trying to figure out what RAM chips are installed in what slot on your device, you need to pop open About This Mac, click the More Info button, and then scroll down through the list of hardware, network and software items until you find the proper info. Even then, if you're looking for details on how to upgrade your system RAM, you'll need to do a web search for instructions.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will have a new features that should make it easier for everyone to quickly find the system data they need. A new app, System Information (see above), is available from About This Mac, but provides Mac owners with information displayed in a much more graphical and understandable way.
When launched, System Information initially shows two overview panes, one with data about the operating system and available software updates, and another displaying high-level info about the computer hardware. From the software pane, users can launch Software Update, while the old System Profiler can be launched by clicking the System Report button on the hardware pane.
Along the top of the System Information app are buttons for Displays, Storage and Memory. As expected, Displays shows the size, resolution and graphics card being used for every display attached to a Mac. Storage provides colorful iTunes-like "fuel gauges" to show how much of your drive space is being used, and what exactly is taking up the most space. The disk formats that your removable storage drive can read or write are listed as well -- but only if your Mac has a SuperDrive. Memory not only displays the number of memory slots in your Mac, but whether or not they're currently occupied and upgradable. Need instructions on how to add memory? There's a link to memory upgrade instructions for your specific Mac.
Portable devices get an extra button for Battery, which displays information about the MacBook's battery, current charge level and power source, and whether the battery is actually working properly.
Two more buttons are on the top of the System Information app window. Support provides links to Mac OS X and Macintosh resources, such as user manuals and support pages. Service is handy if you're trying to find your warranty information or even purchase an AppleCare Protection Plan for your Mac.
As Mac OS X 10.7 Lion inches closer to release in the late summer, we'll be highlighting other new features to whet your appetite for the upgrade.