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Facebook Integration Comes to Mountain Lion

Unlike some cats you might know, Mountain Lion is a sociable beast, and with the 10.8.2 iteration it has become even more so by adding Facebook integration to its collection of big cat toys. This integration gives you the capability of making Facebook posts from Mountain Lion’s Notification Center, from Game Center, and from the Share buttons in the Finder, in Safari, and in Quick Look windows. Plus, you’ll be able to see all of your Facebook friends in your Contacts app and add their profile pictures to Contacts — if you so choose.

To bring Facebook into your Mac OS X environment, take a trip to System Preferences and open the Mail, Contacts & Calendars preference pane. There you find Facebook as one of the account types listed on the right side of the preference pane. Click the Facebook logo in that list, enter your Facebook username (or the email address you use to log into Facebook) and your Facebook password, and then click Next.

When you do that, you see a list of all the things you can do with Facebook. These include the following:

  • Download and integrate your Facebook friends into the Contacts app
  • Integrate Facebook into Notification Center and post links from various apps
  • Enable other Facebook-savvy apps on your Mac to work with your Facebook account — only, Apple is careful to point out, with your consent

Following that list are various caveats and additional items of interest concerning the integration. For example, Apple points out that you can approve or deny any app’s request to use your account, you can review what the requesting app purports to do with your account, you can grant the app permission to use information available to the app on your behalf in Facebook, and you can see (and specify) whether that information is available to just your Facebook friends, just you, or the entire Facebook community.

In the fine print, Apple also points out what granting Facebook access to your apps could entail; this is well worth reading and considering if you are at all concerned about maintaining a modicum of privacy while interacting with Facebook from Mountain Lion. But, if the fine print doesn’t scare you off, click Sign In and you’re ready to go… almost: the preference then presents a pane showing you the apps that have requested Facebook access. In my case, the only app listed was Contacts, and the default was to allow Facebook access to my Contacts list (I immediately unchecked it). Even if you don’t allow Facebook access to your Contacts, you can still have Contacts look through your Facebook contacts and bring profile pictures from Facebook into your Contacts app and assign them to matching contacts if you like.

Posting to Facebook from Safari is much like posting to Twitter: click the Share button on the Safari toolbar and choose Facebook from the pop-up menu, compose your post, and click Post. Your post, along with the URL of the page you are viewing, are published as your current Facebook status. Similarly, posting from Notification Center is much like posting to Twitter from there; in fact, the Click to Tweet button at the top of the Notification Center now shares space with a Click to Post button for Facebook. (For this to work, you must have the Share button enabled in the Notifications preference pane; for details, see “Going In Depth on Mountain Lion’s Notifications,” 11 September 2012.)


In both these cases, and, I imagine, in other situations where you can post to Facebook from a Mac app, you see a small pop-up menu at the top of the posting pane from which you can choose who gets to see your post. Choices include Public (i.e., everyone on Facebook), Friends, Only Me, Friends of Friends, and various other Facebook groups to which you may belong. In fact, this menu seems to me more obvious and informative than the one lurking at the bottom of the Facebook posting pane in Facebook’s own Web interface.

Posting to Facebook from the Finder or the Quick Look window is a bit different, since you must first select a file, then click the Share button and choose Facebook from the pop-up menu. But Facebook (and this is true for Twitter and Flickr as well) appears in the menu only if the file selected is a graphic file format, and you’re given the additional option of posting the image to your Wall or to an existing Facebook album.

Facebook integration also includes notifications: when someone comments or likes a Facebook post of yours, or sends you a message via Facebook, Notification Center can let you know about it. You can configure Facebook in the Notifications preference pane to choose how you are notified in the usual ways — None, Banners, or Alerts — and you can specify how many Facebook items are listed in Notifications Center.

The integration that Apple and Facebook jointly provide in 10.8.2 seems to me to offer a good balance of utility and security. Whether you are only an occasional Facebook user or a complete Facebook addict, I suspect you’ll like what the cat dragged in in the latest OS X update.


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Comments about Facebook Integration Comes to Mountain Lion
(Comments are closed.)

dustin91  2012-09-20 07:43
I have Facebook notify me by SMS for new device logins. Just a note if you have a similar setup - after attempting to sign in from System Preferences, it will bounce you back saying username or password (or something to that effect) is incorrect. You need to wait for the SMS for a code that you then enter instead of your password, and then it will accept the FB account sync.
I tried to post to my page, but couldn't find it as an option. Anyone know how to help? I can post to all my groups, but not to my page.
Paul Cone  2012-09-24 20:34
Be careful if you decide to link Contacts. I did, and then ended up wiping out many of the custom photos on my Contacts (I'm a photographer) with ones from Facebook. No way to undo. I even tried Time Machine.
how to prevent it?
Do the Notifications in Mountain Lion work for you? Some Notifications show up on my machine, but it's highly unreliable.
But there are multiple 3rd party apps in the Mac AppStore like MenuFacebook and "Glow for Facebook", and the latter one provides accurate and reliable Notifications on the Mac. Testing it for few days and seems to be pretty neat!
im trying to sign into Facebook, but it keeps saying it was unable to verify my account. I know what im typing is correct thought because I checked it on my phone and it logged in just fine. does anyone know whats wrong? or have the same problem?
Bob Zef  2012-11-12 12:18
I'm a bit concerned that you said the checkbox next to Contacts allows Facebook access to your contacts. I read the fine print to say that you're allowing the Contacts app access to Facebook - to download contact information about your Facebook friends. I certainly don't want Facebook as a company access to any of my information.

How did you get your interpretation of the privacy situation?
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-11-12 12:33
The feature allows Facebook to add addresses for your contacts. That matching is handled by Facebook, which needs access to your contact information to match your contacts on iOS or OS X with Facebook's contacts.

I quote what appears in iOS's Facebook settings: "Choose 'Update All Contacts' to temporarily provide Facebook with email addresses and phone numbers from your contacts to update photos and user names for all matching contacts."
Bob Zef  2012-11-12 13:37
I hope I'm not pushing your patience. :-) Could you point out where you read it on iOS. Could you also point out where it says that on Mountain Lion.

I can research further on my own why Facebook would have to do the matching and what the implications are. I see no evidence of my contacts being available (at least to me) when I log in to Facebook.
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-11-12 13:48
In iOS, open Settings. Flick down to Facebook and tap. Flick down. Read the fine print at the bottom of the screen.

OS X uses the same methods though I haven't found a screen that presents the same (or similar) text. When I first set up integration with Facebook Mountain Lion, however, I saw messages that corresponded to the info in iOS.
Bob Zef  2012-11-12 14:21
Rats. I didn't see that. On my iOS device I had to log in to see it. I had never done that. I feel a bit miffed that such verbiage did not display in Mountain Lion. I wouldn't have proceeded had it displayed that. My only hope is that the wording says Facebook's access to my addresses is only temporary. Thanks so much for this information.