I have been using Leopard for over a week now and I have some first impressions to share. I think it is a really cool operating system, although Tiger pretty much did everything I needed beforehand. However, there are some features that I have been using that make me not want to go back to using Tiger.
The crucial feature in Leopard for me is Cover Flow. I mentioned in a recent post how I’d been on an uploading spree with Flickr. In deciding what photos were worth sharing, I turned to Cover Flow to flip through my photos and folders. It was the best experience at such work that I have ever had! This feature for me is my absolute favorite. Even on my Mac Mini, flipping through material in Cover Flow is as smooth as silk. Unbelievable. Quick Look has already shown to be a real time-saver as well, but I am less excited by it as I am Cover Flow.
The new Mail 3 is really good. I love the RSS feeds and have actually been using them! Previously, RSS feeds weren’t something I much cared about outside of the occasional visit to Google Reader. The reminders are just great, too. Small details like a progress bar for incoming and outgoing mail are certainly welcomed changes. Mail 3 also offers a variety of stationary for rich text messages, though I have no interest in that. As a whole, Mail 3 fits my needs perfectly. Since installing Leopard, I haven’t used Gmail nearly as much as I had prior, since I enjoy the new Mail so much.
The new Stacks feature, which fans your files upward from the Dock to show your files, is actually pretty cool. At first I was skeptical as for the need for this, but now I like realize the benefit. It can probably be customized to show something other than the Downloads folder, but I am happy with it as-is for right now.
Spaces is not much of a time-saver for me. I actually decreased the default number of Spaces from four, down to two. I have experimented with putting windows in either space and toggling between them. While it is a cool feature, I don’t run enough things at once to take advantage of this. Too often, I’ll move a program to another Space, only to later need to drag a file from a folder to that program, only to realize they are in two distant Spaces. The best I have found for my needs is to put Mail in the right Space all by itself, and leave the left one for everything else. I have pondered the thought of disabling Spaces all together, but will try to make use of it.
I’d like to tie a complaint of mine about the Mac OS to the Spaces feature, and this issue was present in Tiger as well. When I minimize a window to the Dock, and later use cmd-tab to cycle through the running programs, I want the minimized window to get back onscreen when I choose it this way, automatically. This behavior is what I am used to with Windows. But on the Mac, when I minus the Mail down to the Dock, but later want to toggle to it with the keyboard, it doesn’t reappear on its own! If I could have the option to set Mac OS to behave this way for the tab program switching, I would have little need to enable Spaces.
I still have not enabled Time Machine, or even researched my plan to partition my external hard drive. I will work on this in the future. For the moment, I am still backing up manually. One thing I will voice complaint about is that my USB hard drive randomly spins up without me provoking it. While using Tiger, this did not happen. Now, it is awakening itself regularly for an unknown reason, even though I know I am not using it.
Leopard has plenty more great features than what I have listed in this post. I just want to write and touch on my first experiences with some of the ones that I have come in contact with the most. As for Leopard, Apple should be releasing 10.5.2 any day now. From what I have read, this should be a very large update.