My Thoughts On Leopard: Day 6 and Counting

Today is day six since I received and installed Mac OS X Leopard on my Mac Mini. As I described in my previous post, the installation was completely simple. But once it was installed and I began to give it real world use, I was able to really see the strengths (and the weaknesses) of Apple’s latest big cat. Even though all of the new features were groundbreaking and made for great eye candy, they are not all useful in every situation. Also since I was a whole version behind (I was still running Panther), there are features that I get to learn and use that were already present in Tiger (the previous version of Mac OS X). So this week has been one of breaking old habits and ways of thinking.

Spotlight is a feature that was introduced in Tiger and that I have come to love already. It is search tool whose magnifying glass icon sits in the toolbar and produces a small search box when it is clicked. Then as you type results start showing up quickly in a vertical list. It searches everything, and I mean everything. It returns results from text files, Word documents, song files, picture files, visited websites, everything that my computer saves. And the more I type the more concise the results are. I can then go and select the item I’m looking for and it launches in the appropriate application.  Two other neat tricks that Spotlight can do is you can type mathematical computations in and it will give you the answer.  Also you can type a word into Spotlight and it will give you the first part of the definition, which you can click to launch the Dictionary.  Both of these capabilities of Spotlight have been very helpful.

One of the new features that has already proven itself extremely useful to me is QuickLook. QuickLook is a function of the Finder. Before (in Tiger and Panther) if I was browsing through some files in the Finder and I found the one I thought I needed, in order to be sure I had to double-click it and it had to launch the application and if it wasn’t right I’d have to then close it and click on another one. Well, this does not take very long to do so I never thought much about it. But now that I have QuickLook I can not stand having to launch an app just to see what is in a particular file. Also being that I am a worship music leader and I have hundreds of chord sheets that I am dealing with, QuickLook becomes invaluable. The way it works is when I need to view the contents of a particular file (be it a photo or a Word document), I highlight it, click the QuickLook icon in the top of the Finder and new preview window fades into view showing me the contents of the document. I can scroll through it and even view it in full screen. And if I decide that is the one I need, I can double-click it to open it like normal. I have already used this feature a bunch of times. It is especially helpful for when I need to double-check a document to be sure it has all the information I need without launching it.

Spaces is a feature that is really cool but is not one I will use very much. It uses the idea of virtual desktops. By default it is set up with 4 “spaces”. If I have several different applications that I want to run but do not want the all running in the same space I can move some of them to other spaces. Clicking F8 shows me a sort of thumbnail view of all 4 spaces and I can drag my open programs to any of the spaces. For example if I am running iTunes, Firefox, iPhoto, Adium (chat client), Mail, iCal, and Microsoft Word and I want to group them by task I can hit F8 and launch my Spaces thumbnail view. I can drag Adium and Mail to the lower right space. I can then drag iTunes and iPhoto to the upper right space (I could have done these in any order). Then I would drag Firefox and Word to the upper left space and lower left space, respectively. Once that’s done I can click on which ever of the four spaces I want to work in. So if I click the Firefox space it returns to a normal looking desktop running Firefox. To access Word in the lower left space I press and hold Control and press the down arrow key. Firefox whooshes off the screen and in whooshes Word. I can use Control+up arrow to go back or I can hit ctrl+right arrow to go over to the Adium/Mail space. i can rearrange these spaces any way I’d like by hitting F8 and returning to thumbnail view.

Again, Spaces is neat and I have used it some, but it is definitely not central to my computing experience. But I have been wondering how I ever did without QuickLook, Spotlight, Time Machine (which has already been helpful in retrieving a deleted file), and the new layout of Mail. The Apple website has a Leopard page which boasts “300+ new features”, however I doubt I will ever find a use for all of them. Then again there will be some users who will feel as strongly about Spaces as I do about QuickLook. I am glad that Apple has created an operating system that can do so much for so many different people. And I have not experienced any bugs, application inoperability or any of the other problems that can potentially plague an OS upgrade. So if any one out there was hesitant about upgrading, I have had no problems. And if you have been thinking about switching to a Mac, take a trip to the nearest Apple Store and try one out (or heck, come try mine out). Leopard is the best version of any OS that I have ever used.

Josh H.


1 Response to “My Thoughts On Leopard: Day 6 and Counting”

  1. 1 kev
    November 4, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    (Putting on my ‘Defend Windows’ hat)

    Oh yeah…well, in Windows when you delete a file, it goes into something called a “Recycle Bin.” Accidentally delete something? No problem. Just go to the “Recycle Bin” and restore the file.

    What happens if you have accidentally deleted something and you have already cleared the “Recycle Bin,” you ask? Um…hey, look…is that Steve Jobs?

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