As with every major update to Mac OS X since version 10.1, there is not a single Leopard feature that requires you to update immediately to that operating system. On the contrary, it is the accumulation of new features that surely persuades the majority of the most active Mac users to carry out such an update, especially considering that it represents the longest amount of time between versions (two and a half years) since the product is introduced for the first time. Sure, some of the items on Apple’s 300 feature list might seem light, but if even just a few of them improve on a particular aspect of your work, then that’s reason enough to justify the upgrade.
A new look
Apple calls the interface changes “amazing” and “spectacular”, but in reality the changes have a bit of everything.
First, the good things: After years of experimenting with different looks for windows, sidebars, and other interface elements, it appears that Apple has finally achieved a consistent interface. The color scheme is mostly monochromatic, shades of gray with slight gradients. Apple has improved the contrast between the front window and those below it by increasing the depth of the drop shadow, as well as increasing the color lightening of inactive windows. The new Finder sidebar, clearly modeled after the iTunes Sources list, is better organized and more usable compared to the option available in Tiger.
Stacks allow you to improve desktop organization by presenting files in a grid or fan arrangement.
However, some of the changes are not so lucky. The Mac’s signature menu bar, which takes up the entire top of the screen, is now semi-transparent. When an image is applied as a desktop background with light and dark areas, the visibility of the items contained in the menu bar is somewhat inadequate. Unfortunately, this aesthetic option comes at a clear price: the light and shadow areas behind the menu bar can greatly reduce the readability of menu items.
Apple has modified the Dock, OS X’s built-in shuttle, so that the Dock icons appear to rest on a reflective glass surface when the Dock is positioned at the bottom of the screen. (Some users have indicated that Apple breaks this metaphor when the Dock is placed on the sides of the screen. In these cases, the background of the Dock is a simple semitransparent gray color.) A small light is placed under each of the icons that They represent the applications open at all times, although this light is perhaps too subtle when the Dock is located at the bottom of the screen.
Unfortunately, the new Dock Stacks feature is somewhat confusing, replacing a more useful approximation of the folders contained in the Doc (click to open a folder, click and hold to see the contents of the folder) with an older version. elegant but perhaps less useful where a grid or fan is used to display the icons.
The most important feature added to Leopard is undoubtedly Time Machine, and it represents Apple’s alternative to change the habit of users who have never before thought of routinely backing up their files. Time Machine is responsible for creating an automatic backup of the files on an independent hard disk (internal or external, although the option of the external disk is surely safer and more suitable) or a network volume shared by another Mac that also has installed Leopard. Connecting a disk and assigning it as a volume for Time Machine backups is really simple, and once you have done it, you will practically no longer have to worry about this feature.
The Time Machine interface has a somewhat “spatial” look, but the truth is that it makes incremental backups easier to understand.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of Time Machine is its support for creating incremental backups. Instead of creating an exact copy of your hard drive, it is responsible for recording the files that have changed and recording these changes on an hourly basis. On the other hand, recovering the old version of a file is no longer a task that can only be performed by an IT professional; You only have to click on the Time Machine icon to access the interface of this feature, where you can use the Finder (as well as other applications such as iPhoto) to go back in time and rescue the files you want. It really is a backup feature intended for normal people, and the presence of Time Machine leads to a radical change in thinking: I just installed the new version of a program that I am a beta tester of, and I have realized that if it doesn’t work I will just have to go back to a previous version using Time Machine.
One negative aspect of Time Machine backups is that they are not self-executing. If your hard drive crashes, you will have to replace it and rebuild it next using the Recover function from the bootable DVD or the Migration Assistant utility. But all your files will be there when you’ve done it.
Will Time Machine make us compulsive backup freaks? No, because creating a backup requires storage space, which means purchasing a drive with sufficient storage capacity. The good news is that Time Machine is enough to remove most of the obstacles that previously existed for people to back up their data. If you can buy a hard drive with enough capacity and connect it to your Mac, then you can keep your data safe too.
It’s been 18 months since Boot Camp, Apple’s method of allowing Intel-based Macs to run Windows, was released as a public beta. Boot Camp serves the useful purpose of providing Windows compatibility and the ability to run Windows programs at native speeds. However, most people who want to run Windows software on their Macs will opt for tools like VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop, by which they can run Mac OS X and Windows applications simultaneously.
Virtual desktop utilities, which allow us to put a little more order on our screen, have been around for many years for all types of platforms, including Mac OS X. Leopard’s new Spaces feature is an attempt to introduce a wider audience the concept of multiple workspaces. While very promising, the initial implementation in Leopard has seemed somewhat erratic to me.
Spaces has been quite cleverly integrated together with the current Exposé feature of OS X, another tool aimed at organizing a large number of windows. The concept of Spaces is that the Mac interface is really a series of workspaces, located adjacent to each other d