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The Day of the Leopard

Entry 631, on 2007-10-28 at 17:26:56 (Rating 1, Computers)

I've been using Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard for a day now so its time to do a quick report on whether the update from Tiger is worth it. The answer is "yes". Thank you for listening. I think I should provide some more details though, so read on.

I installed Leopard over top of a complex installation of Tiger. I had many extra system components and many extra applications installed. I also had a few issues with some existing programs which didn't work properly. The install still worked perfectly and everything worked fine afterwards (expect for one Mail plug-in which was automatically de-installed).

I have Leopard running on a MacBook Pro 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo. That's a fairly powerful machine and, as expected, Leopard runs at a good speed. I can't be sure, but it feels faster than previous systems. Some other early users have reported good speed on lesser hardware as well.

Every program I have tried so far has run well. There are a few cosmetic issues (screen redraws not working properly) with Photoshop CS3 but its still very usable. One game which didn't work with the beta release of Leopard now works, so I'm optimistic that my all of my extensive collection of software will probably work. Of course, I do keep everything updated on an almost daily basis.

You've probably read the list of new features but I will comment on which ones work best for me. Quick Look is incredibly useful. Previewing graphics, text files, Word documents, Pages documents, PDFs, and HTML documents (correctly rendered) is really useful. Opening a series of JPEGs and running a slide show instantly in the Finder is a great time saver, especially for a photography fan.

Cover flow is a useful way to scan through documents. Column view is still my preferred way to work in the Finder, but I use cover flow to quickly find photos and other documents. File sharing and screen sharing from the Finder is nice. The new Finder connects to slow servers through a separate thread so the whole Finder doesn't stop when using a disk over a slow network. There are many other small improvements too, just little things like being able to change a file suffix without seeing a warning is useful.

The bundled programs continue to improve. I was particularly impressed with the speed of the latest version of Mail. Switching mailboxes and searching is much faster than before and the lack of speed was the biggest disadvantage of Mail in the past. I'm not sure how much I will use new features like stationery, notes and "to dos". Maybe that will be a subject for a future report.

I think Time Machine will be very useful but at the moment it won't use a shared drive so its useless to me. Strangely the beta of Leopard worked fine. This might be something I'm doing wrong so I might need to report on this in future.

Leopard isn't a revolutionary new product. It isn't a must have for most existing Mac users. But for anyone with a newer Mac with plenty of memory or for power users I would highly recommend it. Apple have done it again: they've made the world's best operating system even better!

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