Leopard, which came out on Friday, has a slicker, more reflective
look than previous versions of OS X. The biggest change to the Mac operating system is the dock,
which has shed its 2D filmstrip look in place of a reflective, and 3D
dock. The toolbar on the top of the screen has also been made slightly
transparent to give you a peek at the desktop background beneath.
There’s a new look in Finder called
Cover Flow. If you’ve ever used the feature in Apple’s iTunes jukebox
software, or in the new iPods, the system works the same way. Each file
gets its own photo preview, which is especially helpful when looking at
media items like photos and videos.
Leopard’s new QuickLook feature lets you
get an instant preview of any file you’re looking at in Finder. To
toggle it, just hit the space bar on your keyboard. Quickview works
with all sorts of files, including photos, movies, PDFs and other
One of the cooler features in Leopard is
Web Clips. Web Clips lets you take a chunk out of any Web site and turn
it into a widget to use in OS X’s Dashboard. It’s only available using
Safari, and can be toggled with a scissors button on your browser’s
toolbar. Just click it, and you’ll get a little box you can move around
to fit any content on the page. When you’re done, just click the OK
button, and your new widget will show up on your Dashboard where it
will update along with the Web site.
If you like reading RSS feeds while away
from an Internet connection you’re in luck, because the new version of
the mail app lets you read and store all your favorite RSS feeds. To
add a feed, just drag RSS, XML or ATOM feed into mail, and it will
stick into the RSS feeds folder on the left hand side. You can read the
messages while offline and even send them to your friends as an email.
Finder’s new side bar keeps track of all
sorts of items that have been created or edited by time. You can track
items from today, the day before, last week or by file type. If you’re
a .Mac subscriber, you can also access the entire hard drive of any
remote computers that share your account.
For people avoiding to get desktop
clutter, the new version of Apple’s Safari browser will save any files
you download into a handy folder that sits on your dock. Mac users will
really find this new feature handy when downloading application
installers from the Web.
Stacks is a new feature that lets you
create little folders in the dock that expand when you click on them.
You can group all sorts of files or applications together, and it won’t
take up nearly as much space, or require as much digging to get to the
file as it did before. Windows users missing the start button can
create their own application launcher by simply dragging all the icons
from the applications folder into a new stack.
Setting up Time Machine, OS X Leopard’s
new data backup system requires picking a hard disk where you want to
store all the various versions of your files. It works on the fly with
each file, or as an entire system backup. When you fill up your disk
space, Time Machine will simply cease to continue backing things up.
Spaces is a new feature in Leopard, and
it’s useful for the folks with small screens who like to run a lot of
applications at once. Spaces lets you toggle multiple desktops where
you can drag and drop open application windows. You can keep it simple
with two, or bump it all the way up to 16. Power users can also set up
applications to always open up in a certain space, keeping screen real
estate under control.
The Time Machine shows selected
applications, pictures, documents and other items as they appeared
throughout their history. If you find a lost file, just click the
Restore button to return it to your present Desktop. You can even
select your inbox in Mail and use Time Machine to show what was in the
inbox at various times in the past.
iChat’s videoconferencing enables you to
add custom backgrounds. Just step out of view of the webcam when it
tells you to, or it won’t work properly. Sadly, the anticipated ‘Star
Wars hologram’ effect didn’t make into the Leopard final cut.