I received my copy of MacOS 10.5 ‘Leopard’ yesterday via FedEx and promptly installed it on 3 of 5 computers that I have at home and in the office (a PowerBook G4, iMac (Intel) and a PowerMac Dual Processor G5).  I also began an install on an iMac G5 which failed on the first installation attempt (and is currently in the process of installing - 2nd attempt). I thought I’d share my impressions of the new OS X (one - because I want to get in the habit of writing more and two - because I was hoping to get some feedback from other users).

I must admit that I am an unabashed fan of Apple products, and have been since working on my high school newspaper way back in 1992 - 1993. I’ve used MacOS X since day 1.

To begin, I must admit that I am an unabashed fan of Apple products, and have been since working on my high school newspaper way back in 1992 - 1993. I’ve used MacOS X since day 1 (all the way back to the first release of the beta version of MacOS X) and feel that I have some insight into the evolution of an OS that is now in its sixth iteration. Below I’ve listed my first impressions of what I feel is ‘The Good’, ‘The Bad’ and ‘The Ugly’ of MacOS X Leopard.

The Good (In no particular order)

Screen Sharing: In our office we have been using a piece of software from Devon Technologies called Desktop Transporter to share screens for the purpose of training and some general use and maintenance. Now that MacOS 10.5 has screen sharing built-in, that is one piece of software that I can dump from my system, although I can’t get the $30 back that I spent on it. Screen Sharing in 10.5 works as I’d expect it to - although I’d like for the ability to copy items directly to the clipboard without having to use the ‘Get Clipboard’ and ‘Send Clipboard’ buttons.

Quick Look: This is one of those shortcuts that after using it a couple times you wonder how you ever lived without it. I love the fact that you can arrow up and down through a series of files after activating Quick Look. I’ll never have to hit apple - I to check the size of a folder again.

Spotlight: The refinements to Spotlight are great. Applications now top the list - making Spotlight a better application launcher than it was before - slight delays in the returning of results made Spotlight an imperfect application launcher.  Also (I read this in David Pogue’s NY Times Column) Spotlight can be used as a simple calculator. Try it. Hit the apple key and the space bar to launch Spotlight and type in 2+2.  The result is right there at the top of the list. Looking for the definition of a word? It’s right there also. Just type in the word and you get the part of speech as well as the beginning of the definition. Click on it and the dictionary is launched. Genius.

Other potentially ‘Good’ items that I haven’t had time to try: Time Machine. I feel like this is going to be great. Back to my Mac. I have a .mac account and am really excited about trying this.  Mail. The new notes and to do items seem like a good idea. Spaces.  I have to use this in my work environment to get a feel for whether or not this is going to be the huge time saver / convenience that I think it will.  I love expose and this seems like Expose on Steroids.

So far, in limited use, those are the improvements that have really caught my attention. I’m sure that as time passes the list will grow.

The Bad

Stacks: I’m just not falling in love with Stacks.  I guess I’m just used to clicking on a folder in the dock and having it open. I wish there was an option to turn stacks off so that the folder simply opened in the Finder. Having to hold in the apple key while clicking on a stack is an acceptable solution - I just wish I could make it automatic.

Cover Flow for the Finder: I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of Cover Flow in iTunes. I feel like it takes up a lot of space and this is magnified in the Finder since I typically don’t use Finder windows that take up the entire screen. A better combination for me is to use the column view with Quick Look. The only use of Cover Flow that I feel works is on the iPhone. There is something about using your finger to flip through your music that just feels right.

The Dock: I don’t like the look of the new Dock. I feel like it takes up more room when items are magnified and there is too much drop shadow going on behind the apps in the dock. It’s like when I first got Photoshop and could apply a drop shadow to anything I wanted - I went drop shadow crazy and put it on everything. Too Much. I also don’t really love how the name of each program is displayed over every app. Unnecessary. If it’s worthy of being in the Dock then I should be able to identify it by sight.  I can see where this would be a big help to a beginner or switcher - but I’d like to turn it off.

**The Ugly (purely aesthetic): **When you interact with the OS every day you tend to get used to how it looks. Leopard deviates from what I’m used to and so this section may need to be appended at some point as I get used to what I’m seeing on screen but below are my gut reactions as to what I feel are aesthetic issues in MacOS 10.5.

Translucent Menu Bar: I don’t like it. From a usability standpoint having a translucent menu bar seems to devalue the importance of the menu bar. Once a menu item is clicked on it obviously becomes more apparent but I feel like new users are going to undervalue the importance of the menu bar. Maybe it’s just me?

New Folders: I don’t love them. The fact that I notice them at all means that something is off.

Mail: I don’t like the overall dark look of mail.  The buttons don’t work for me - actually I didn’t like them in the previous version of mail either.

Translucent Menus: I can take these or leave them. I don’t like the idea of being able to almost see through the menu but I don’t hate it. The same goes for the rounded corners on the menus. I don’t love them but I’m sure I’ll learn to ignore them (at the very least).

So, that’s it. The good, the bad and the ugly in MacOS 10.5, Leopard. I’ve had the new OS installed for less than 24 hours and those are my first impressions. Let me know what you think about the new OS.

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