"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
August 31, 2009

Snow Leopard Latest

So, here’s what I’m observing. It’s fast. Overall, my system is running very fast. Noticeable improvements in startup times for all applications and less lag when switching apps. Frankly, I didn’t expect to see an improvement, since I’m on a Mac Pro, but I’m glad it’s there. Retro in places. Nods to OS9 like putting […]

So, here’s what I’m observing.

It’s fast. Overall, my system is running very fast. Noticeable improvements in startup times for all applications and less lag when switching apps. Frankly, I didn’t expect to see an improvement, since I’m on a Mac Pro, but I’m glad it’s there.

Retro in places. Nods to OS9 like putting the date back in the top left of the screen and adding a very retro styled keyboard/character viewer are a nice and welcome touch.

Preview previews more. Much better handling of pages in a document and a sharp way to read multiple PDFs in a single preview window, moving smoothly from one to another. You can open up a whole morning’s worth of PDF reading in one preview window and work through it (now wouldn’t THAT be cool on a tablet???).

Text selection in columns. It works properly now!

Audio time feature in the Finder. When you audition audio and samples in the finder window, along with the transport heads up display that appeared over the file icon, you also getting a circular timer, which gives you playtime info. Perhaps my favourite SNow Leopard visual tweak – really helpful.

Screen movies in Quicktime. Support for making screen-casts is built right into Quicktime now. In fact Quicktime has become a one stop shop for putting screen-casts on youtube.

Descriptive names for screenshots. I use the screenshots feature a lot, especially command+shift+4 to define a part of the screen for capture. This quick and easy feature had the annoying habit of naming the files produced picture 1 (picture 2, picture 3, etc). That’s fine if you rename and/or use them right away, but annoying if you don’t. Now the files are named by date, which makes them easier to group for renaming purposes.

Better ejection. No more detective work to figure out which application is refusing your attempt to eject a disk. Handy when dealing with disk image installations.

30 second back in Quicktime. This feature caught my eye in the latest iPhone update and it is now in quicktime. One click shuttles you back 30 seconds, which is an easy way to get back into movies and clips after an interruption.

Expose enhanced. Command+1 and Command+2 allow you to sort expose windows in a new way and you can now see windows that have been minimised in the expose window and bring them up.

Preview annotations. You can now make annotations, like notes, circles and underlines in PDFs viewed within Preview. This really is a killer feature for academics, teachers and collaborators. I’ve only just started exploring this, but am thinking of putting up a blogpost on the feature.

Focussed Finder searches. YOu can now set Finder to search the current folder by default. Previously Finder searches defaulted to search your whole machine, which really duplicates what you can do with spotlight. Now you can specify that Finder looks first in the folder you currently are inspecting.

Minimise to application. Now you can minimise windows into the application’s dock icon, keeping the dock size constant during the working day. As I put my dock on the left side of the screen, permanently visible, this is a very handy feature indeed – 3 or 4 minimised windows would blow out my dock previously.

UPDATE – Just noticed two more cool things!

Expose from dock. Hold down the mouse button over an application icon in the dock and will open only that programme’s windows in expose (even works across spaces).

Print Manager “inbox.” Now a number appears over print manager in the dock, to show the number of remaining items in a print cue.

On the negative side a few things are bugging me. First, the only game I ever play with any kind of regularity, Football Manager is broken. I get a grey screen of death after the initial welcome screen. UPDATE: Changing an authorisation setting allows the game to complete it’s startup. Hooray!

Snow Leopard still installs way too many printer drivers. The process is much more streamlined, but for desktop machines it’s still overkill. My prediction is that this Mac Pro will see, at most, five printers connected to it during it’s working life. So, installing hundreds, instead of thousands of drivers, is really only a tiny improvement.

I’m still underwhelmed by stacks. The new view is more useful than previously, but it still feels like another finder with fewer features.

One thing I’ve yet to test out is the revamped approach to Services. This is a part of the operating system is has real NInja potential, but is often too cluttered to make sense. Services are now application and context specific, and formatted to highlight different processes (like text, picture, search, message, etc.).


Super helpful. Thanks, Ferndando!

Steve 15 years ago

Nice review, Fern! I upgraded, too – within minutes of receiving the DVD from FedEx. It’s definitely speedier on my new MacBook Pro. Most notably for me is running VMware Fusion.

I’ve not tried any audio work yet, but plan to in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve only had a couple inconsequential apps have issues so far: Cyberduck (sftp client) won’t run, and Fugu is a powerpc app. I only use these apps for testing, so not a big deal. I’ve resisted installing rosetta so far, there’s only been one other app that’s asked for it, so I think I’ll end up avoiding running legacy software in the near term anyhow.

Toni 15 years ago

I’m probably going to give it a go shortly on the basis of the good reports I’ve heard (and hope it doesn’t break The Gimp, Inkscape and a couple of others) and in the hope it’ll fix some of the glitches in 10.5. Extra speed and smoothness wouldn’t do any harm either.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Apparently some folks are calling SL, Apple’s Vista. That did make me laugh.

Like you Steve, I’ve resisted Rosetta and in fact used it as an upgrade or delete decision maker – which is a good thing. I really don’t like having too many apps on there.

And, Toni, I’m sure that some apps will break for you in SL. In fact if you rely on any of those apps I would confirm they work before with the developer, or wait for an update.

Toni 15 years ago

The idea of SL being like vista is bizarre. Apple users are generally so in the thrall of apple stuff that for them to rebel over changes in the OS and interface is almost unthinkable. I am sure that if they launched something with the equivalent changes, flaws and advances as Vista then the Mac community would embrace it with open arms, hailing the great security improvements and wonderful new interface and happily buying upgrades to all their apps because there was no legacy support.

I’m no apple hater or M$ lover: I just want a computer to work well for me and help me to be productive. But the more I read in the mac community the sicker I feel in my stomach.

Randall 15 years ago

Like I mentioned before I appreciate your review.

I think one of the small details I appreciate the most is the simple date up in the time corner. How many times a day do i go looking for the date, and finally it’s there.


Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Toni – I’m not sure why you are so cynical about the “Mac community.” The sources I read didn’t hold back criticism for Puma, Jaguar or even Leopard, let along the problems with the initial version of Logic 8. I also know a few die hard mac fans who have quite an ire for Aperture. Moreover, there was a lot of caution about SL.

I’m not sure which sources you are reading, but when it comes to tech blogs or “forums” I’m not into reading the ones that have no work attached to them. Just like there are music forums where people don’t seem to make any music and talk about gear they may well have never even seen, let alone played, there seem to be tech forums where people sprout off about gear they never really do any work with.

OK, now that’s *my* cynicism speaking!

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Randall – yes. I think the changes I like most are really small things like that and the new expose functions (show minimised windows at the bottom of the screen, hold down click on a dock icon to see that apps open windows, etc). Real small things that make life easier.

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