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Mac OS X Leopard

After several months waiting, Kevin McAuliffe upgrades to the latest Mac OS By Kevin McAuliffe

The much hyped release of Apple's newest operating system has come and gone, and much like everyone else, I'm a fanboy at heart, and can never wait to just jump right in and see what Apple has brought to the table.  But...I'm also a realist and know that nothing ever works quite right with version 10.5, so I've been working for a while with 10.5.0 and 10.5.1, and have been very impressed and a little annoyed at the same time. Let's see what Apple has gotten us, the users, into!
I'm not a fan of upgrading, especially when it comes to installing brand new operating systems on my machines, so for me, it's complete reinstall from the ground up. Leopard's install is smooth and simple, much like Tiger was. Once you have the OS on your machine, you will NEED to update your system to take it from 10.5 to 10.5.1 to fix all the bugs so far, then you will be all set to go. The process of upgrading to a clean system is a breeze, whether you are a long time user, or a first time installer. Installation: 10 (out of 10)

What You Get and How it Works
I decided to do this article a little differently this time, as what you get, and how it works almost go hand in hand with one another. With more than 300 new features, there is alot we could go into with Leopard, but we're going to stick with the main features, as alot of the "new" features are enhancements of previous ones.  With Leopard, here is what will jump out at you right away.

  • A new, enhanced Desktop and Finder
  • Quick Look
  • Time Machine
  • Enhanced Mail
  • Spaces
  • Safari 3.0
  • Parental Controls
  • Boot Camp

Right away after installing Leopard, the first thing that jumps right out at you is the new streamlined Desktop. You will see right away that Apple has "prettied" up the look of Leopard, and the addition of "Stacks" will make organizing your files and getting to them quick and easy. For example, upon installation, Leopard automatically puts a stack for your "Documents" folder in your tool bar, as that's where people find themselves going over and over. To quickly access a folder in your stack, simply click on the stack, it will fan itself out for you to quickly select the folder (or file for that matter) you want to get at, and a quick click opens it!

The Finder has also been streamlined as well and includes a new view called Cover Flow. Cover Flow gives you a visual representation of what your folders look like, and can be a quick and easy way to find the files you want.

Quick Look is also a great new feature in Leopard, and is something that if you don't know how to use it, you would skip right over it, and miss out on a quick way to see documents, music, pictures and video with a simple click of the space bar. Now, there is no need to double click on a file and wait for its native program to open it. Simply select the file you want, tap the space bar, and Quick Look will open the file in a handy little window in the middle of your screen for you to. . . take a Quick Look at what it is, and see if you need to use it or not.  

Time Machine has been hyped to be one of the new great features of Leopard, and it is quite impressive. How does it work you ask? Again, once you activate it, you probably wouldn't even know it's there. Time Machine backs up copies of everything you want it to, in a location of your choice, and getting files back is as easy as opening Time Machine from the "Applications" folder, and navigating your way back in time to the files you want to get back. The best way to truly see how Time Machine works is to look at someone's Desktop from day to day, as I know that I pile things on there, and then organize them later, so for me to click through each day of the week since I installed Leopard, and see what has changed, is truly remarkable. Have you ever had a catastrophic failure and needed to restore your whole system? Simply insert the Leopard install disc, and select "Restore from Time Machine," and then you can pick the day you want Time Machine to restore from. It's truly remarkable!

We are in an information age, and e-mail has become a dominant force in our day to day lives, and Apple has taken the time to update Mail with some great new features, a couple of which will jump out at you right away. I'm the champion of sending myself e-mail reminders of things like phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc., and they clog my mailbox up, and I can never find anything. Well, say hello to "Notes." Want to remind yourself of something? Don't send yourself an e-mail, simple type a Note, and when you save it, it will appear in your Inbox.

Mail also has some great templates you can now put into your e-mails, such as party announcements, baby announcements, party invitations and a whole lot more. It's a great bonus to spice up your e-mails, and will be viewable on a Mac or PC when you send it!

Finally, you can now subscribe to your favorite RSS feeds and view them from inside Mail (like the Digital Media Online Blog Zone!), quickly and easily.

Spaces is another cool addition to Leopard, and what you use Spaces for, is to organize and streamline your work environment so you can quickly and easily switch back and forth between programs you use on a regular basis. For example, I can set up four "Spaces" that will let me organize myself quickly. I'll set up one for "Editing", one for "Graphics", one for "Sound" and one for "Web and Writing". You can see by the below image that my Spaces are set and ready to go.  

To activate Spaces, I simply press "F8", and what Leopard will do is categorize all the open applications into their proper place. Since I don't have Final Cut Pro running, my first space is empty, but I do have After Effects, Soundtrack Pro and Safari running, and they all fall into their proper "Space". Think of Spaces as separate desktops that you can quickly switch back and forth between. Very handy for people who have multiple applications running at the same time, all of the time!

Everyone's favorite Mac web browser is back and better than ever. Safari 3.0 adds some great functionality to make it a more user friendly web browser. The new and improved "Find" tool makes finding words or phrases on webpages much easier! Apple has also added Tabs for easy viewing of multiple webpages, which is a bonus, but probably the coolest new feature is "Content Clippings."  Essentially, this makes you a Widget creator, and let's you make them quickly and easily. Let's say I want to keep up-to-date with the "Today's Top Stories" on the Digital Media Net, I can simply click the "scissors" at the top of Safari, and I am now prompted to select which area I want to make a widget with. So, for the daily news, I will highlight the section around "Today's Top Stories," and another great feature of "Content Clippings" is that the tool is very smart, and picks up possible areas of interest for you, so you don't even need to think about it.

Now, simply click (insert button name here), and your Dashboard will open up, and put a new Widget in there with a live, up to the minute portal to the DMN's Top stories!

These days, with everything going on in the world, parents want more control over what their children are doing online, and how much time they are spending surfing the internet. Say hello to Apple's new Parental Controls. Parents now have a wide range of control over what their children are doing on the family computer.  Parents can choose which programs their kids have access to, and which ones they don't, they also have control over when kids can use the computer during the week and weekends, and lock it out, in times where parents want their kids sleeping or doing homework. This is a great new feature for parents who want a little more say in what their kids surf!


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