MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘Tiger

Mac OS X Leopard: Mail

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I’ve tried a few email clients for the Mac but always come back to OS X’s built-in solution – known simply as Mail – due to its superior user-friendliness. On the downside Mail isn’t as fully featured as rivals such as Entourage, which is bundled with Microsoft Office for Mac. However the Leopard version of Mail has a number of new features that make it a lot more powerful.

In the past one of Mail’s biggest shortcomings in my opinion was its lack of a “follow-up” feature; it wasn’t possible to take, say, an invoice sent by email and flag it for payment on a specific date. In the new version of Mail this can done by selecting the relevant text in the body of the message and selecting the “To Do” icon in the toolbar, which creates a to-do note in the “Reminders” section of the redesigned sidebar. (Incidentally the Mail sidebar is – much like the new Finder – reminiscent of the familiar iTunes interface, another example of Apple’s move to a unified theme for Leopard.) After selecting the to-do note a follow-up date can be entered via a contextual menu (activated by CTRL-mouse click).

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Granted it’s a slightly long-winded approach, but it does have a certain elegance about it. I also find the new notes feature to be a more convenient alternative to Apple’s Stickies application.

More impressive perhaps is the new “data detector” feature that identifies email addresses, telephone numbers, dates and so on in emails. Again a contextual menu provides the user various options – for example telephone numbers can be added to the address book. Naturally this is far more convenient than having to copy and paste the information.

The new version of Mail also comes with a whole range of useful templates for things like birthday greetings, special announcements and so on, which are a great way of whipping up snazzy-looking messages.

My only complaint about Mail in Leopard are the nondescript toolbar icons; I much preferred the OS X Panther icons, to the extent that I used a third-party application to bring them back when I bought my last Mac running OS X Tiger. Regrettably though the developer hasn’t come out with a Leopard-compatible version yet. I can’t say I regret the sacrifice though because the new version of Mail has so much more to offer.

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Written by macinjay

December 13, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Posted in Apple Mac

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Mac OS X Leopard: Finder

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Stacks and Spaces are entirely new applications in OS X. The Finder on the other hand is the most venerable Mac application, going all the way back to the original 128k Mac. Essentially it is the Mac equivalent of Windows Explorer (although there are of course many differences between the two). I won’t bore you with a history of the Finder but those interested can read about it in this Wikipedia article.

Instead I’ll concentrate on the major changes made to the Leopard Finder. First of all the sidebar has been redesigned. It now looks a lot like the sidebar in iTunes, as can be seen from the screenshots below.

itunes-sidebar.jpgfinder-sidebar.jpg

In fact the changes to Finder’s sidebar form part of a unified theme that Apple has established for the operating system with Leopard. Which is not to say that the change is purely cosmetic; as you can see the Finder sidebar is now divided into discrete categories i.e. devices (cameras, disk drives etc), shared resources, folders (Places in Leopard parlance) and searches. It is still possible however to add folders to the Places section in the sidebar. In the searches category Apple has thoughtfully included some useful smart folders out of the box, but these can also be added to.

Incidentally, accessing shared resources has become a lot easier in Leopard. When a resource is available on the network it automatically appears in the sidebar. Connecting to the resource is now just a matter of clicking on the resource icon. A big improvement over Tiger here in my opinion, where connecting to other resources on the Network always seemed to be a hit-or-miss affair.

Other significant enhancements to the Finder are Cover Flow and Quick Look.

Cover Flow

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In the past the user was restricted to three views in the Finder: icon, list and column. In Leopard there is now another view to choose from, namely Cover Flow. Along with the new sidebar this is another feature that the Finder has borrowed from iTunes and one that many non-Mac users will be familiar with. It enables the user to browse documents, images, folders and applications as if flipping through album art in iTunes. Some purists have questioned its usefulness, preferring the traditional finder views. Personally I think that Cover Flow is a useful addition, especially as an alternative to iPhoto for browsing photos.

Quick Look

This provides a convenient way of previewing a document without having to open its application. Simply select the document in the Finder and press CTRL and the mouse button, then select Quick Look from the contextual menu. Alternatively you can select Quick Look’s icon in the Finder toolbar. (If it isn’t there by default select Customise Toolbar in the Finder’s View menu and drag the eye-shaped icon into the toolbar.)

That concludes my brief review of Leopard’s new Finder. While it wasn’t completely overhauled as some wanted I think that overall the changes represent a significant improvement over the Finder in Tiger.

Written by macinjay

December 2, 2007 at 9:36 am

Leopard

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library-2993.jpg

So, I bit the bullet and traded in my Mac’s Tiger stripes for Leopard’s spots. I’ll be honest and admit that I was too impatient to back my system up before taking the plunge. After the install I had a bad moment when I thought it had wiped out all my files and applications until I realised that it had rebooted into an empty user profile. I switched into my default user profile and was relieved to find all my stuff.

I haven’t really had time to explore all of Leopard’s features yet. When I do I’ll record my experiences here.

Written by macinjay

October 28, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Apple Mac

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