This article was first published on 2007-11-09. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
If you are like me, you have read the previews on Apple’s website and the reviews from around the web on Leopard, including Ars Technica’s exhaustive tome. Is there anything left to be surprised by? Thankfully, yes.
My number one feature is one of the big ones, Quick Look. But the thing is, I didn’t expect to get much use out of it. I mean, I normally cruise the Finder in Column View, which gives you a little preview in the rightmost column when you select a file. It’s the same size as the icons in Icon View set to the maximum size.
But Quick Look is SO much better for two reasons. First, the size. I don’t know how the large size is determined, other than images don’t rez up past their native resolution in Quick Look, although they will in Cover Flow. And the large size seems arbitrary, but it is so much larger than the large icon that you can read docs and get information from them without actually opening them. Secondly, the file types that Quick Look can preview beats Tiger’s icons by a large margin. The key ones to me are the MS Office and iWork files. If you just needed to know that term or phrase found in the file, Quick Look is the way to go.
But most importantly, I totally underestimated how many times a day I look through a folder full of files with similar names and layouts, not knowing which one to open. It’s way more than I can keep a running account of. Now instead of opening files almost at random to find the one I really want to edit, Quick Look gets me opening the right one on the first try. Really, the amount of times a day I do this totally took me by surprise. Also, using the space bar is genius.
The last thing that surprised me about Quick Look is that it really is quick. If you tried to use Spotlight under Tiger, you know the feeling that there’s a good feature there, but you don’t have the time to wait for it. I expected the same from Quick Look, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how rapid it works.
That brings me to Spotlight. It’s now quick enough to use. I had given up on it in Tiger. Enough said.
Here’s another speed related pleasant surprise: Screen Sharing actually works. This is another feature that I expected to be stuck in the mud to the point it would be useless. There is a slight lag in the display’s refresh rate as to not be instantaneous, but it’s plenty usable. There’s no lag in the actual use of the other computer.
Here’s how I am using Screen Sharing right now. I have been using the 30 day trial version of Adobe CS3 version of DreamWeaver on my PowerMac, but it ran out of days a few weeks ago. I was totally bummed because I was right in the middle of a project. Then it occurred to me that I could download another version to my PowerBook, and then use Screen Sharing to operate it directly from my PowerMac. That bought me another 30 days. Next up to share is my wife’s MacBook. That should get me until my faculty position starts and I can buy the whole CS3 suite at a discount. I mean really, Adobe, the retail price of CS3 is more than a new Mac.
Sleep NOW. Again with the speed. Putting my Mac to sleep happens almost instantaneously. On Tiger I had a nice rhythm where I’d hit opt-cmd-eject and I’d get up and walk out of the room, exiting just as my Mac went to sleep. This was nice because the monitors lit the room enough to not run into anything on my way out. Now I hit the keys and I can’t get out my chair before everything is asleep. In the future, I’ll have to make sure my path is clear, which can be a problem for someone as messy as I am.
BTW, in the same way, shutting down or restarting seems SO much faster. By a factor of five or so. In Tiger, shutting down was a chore! I’d give the command and then start manually quitting programs because I knew they would never quit in time on their own to beat the time required (whatever amount that is) before the Finder gives up on the shut down sequence. Now it’s boom-boom-boom. Apps are quitting like dominoes falling in the Dock.
Last and perhaps least, but still appreciated: The left column in the new Mail app has an optional Mail Activity pop in/up window that shows messages being sent and received with some data about size and speed associated with them. Yes, the previous version of Mail had an activity window too, but it was large and ugly, and the worst part was it displayed movement with each check of your email account, not just when it had something. That old window used up so much screen space and was so distracting I never used it. Now you can see your important activity in an unobtrusive manner. Try it! Just click the little arrow in the lower left.
So there are my initial 6 nice surprises. I’m sure you have yours too. Share them with us in the Comments section below.