As any Mac user worth his salts will know that the latest version of OSX was released on October 26th October. Due to a bit of a mess up with a new hard drive I did not get round to installing Leopard until the following Friday. Since then I have had a little over a week to try out some of the claimed 300 new features and give it a bit of an airing.
For the installation I opted to start from scratch and complete a total re-install, plus the fact I planned on upgrading the startup drive it was the best plan of action. Before hand I started backing up my home folder, as it stands I had a 80gb startup drive and a 250gb ‘media’ drive that I used for iTunes and photos. But with the addition of a new OS I thought time to up the startup drive, so a new 160gb was purchased; nothing great but just a little bit more room to move. I copied my home folder over to the second drive and shut down Tiger (for the last time?) installed the new startup drive and proceeded to install. The install process was very simple and very Mac like. The only real comment was integration of the .Mac membership happened a lot sooner and seemed to play heavy during install progress. Upon startup you get the nice standard feature of Apple saying hello in every language known to man, then the 'norm’ desktop of the current version; Leopard has gone for a lit up galaxy style, nice but not me. Time to put my mark on the place.
I open the new Finder to find the new side bar and folder icons. Personally I’m a fan of these, they look good and sort of make up for the fact that CandyBar will not work in Leopard. The side bar is also a great improvement, but for different reasons, it is not network friendly with browsing your network a complete breeze; that even includes Windows machines! If you have any machine on your network that is sharing files or services when it will appear in a separate section in the side bar. By clicking on said machine will start the connection process, if you have never connected before you default to 'guest’ but you can change this by 'connect as’ and once completed keychain remembers this next time. Networking for me suddenly just got a whole lot easier! The next thing you will notice in the Finder are the new icons in the toolbar. First we have the coverflow view and the then the Quick Look eye. When viewing files and folders you used to have three main options, icons, threaded lists and split panes. Now you have the coverflow option. If you have used any recent version of iTunes you will know this feature, you are able to flick your way through your files. Whilst this is a great way to view some photographs or artwork I can not see it having the same effect with a load of boring Word documents. But for those Word Documents you have Quick Look which is just a breath of fresh air. We all know Microsoft Word is a hog, in fact using Pages makes much better sense, but rather than having to open up Word just to see that you’ve got the wrong document, one press of the spacebar brings the document up in Quick Look. Quick Look you enables you to open Word, Excel, pdf, quicktime and most image formats in a 'quick’ window for view or review. You can still control the active cursor in the main window so you can flick between files but there appears to be no known shortcuts just yet.
A long time ago I purchased a Freecom 400gb external USB hard drive with the plan of backing up all my data. However I could then not decide on the backup software or the process in which to do it. So as like most things it got pushed to the bottom of the pile. About once every couple of weeks I would turn this drive on, connect it up and use Apple Backup to backup my iTunes library and my photo library. Then it was forgotten about for another couple of weeks, not really best practice. Apple have included a new backup facility in Leopard called Time Machine, when I first read about it I was dubious and cast it aside as one of those gimmicky bolt on extras and never took any notice of it. Now I’m converted and a devote Time Machine user. When you read the Apple run down of Time Machine or look at the video’s they do not do it justice. I was convinced that it would only backup the startup drive and would be a tremendous waste of hard drive space and resources. But when I first configured the backup it went through and backed up both my startup drive and the second media drive. So after a few tweaks and setting some folders not to backup (scratch disks) I started again. Sure enough everything was backing up and when the next one was due it went off very quickly without any hitches. Since then I have been using it on a daily basis and have performed by own disaster recovery trial run; what a fun time that was. The only down side is that to totally restore a complete drive you need to boot from your Leopard install disc and then restore from there. I’ve read about creating partitions on backup drives and creating bootable copies of Leopard install dvd’s on there. Too much for me, just don’t loose the disc!
Not All Good
So far everything has been great, but not so with Adobe Lightroom. If you have Adobe Lightroom and you use the ability for Lightroom to save meta-data to jpg images you are in for a shock. These images will crash the Finder, Quickview, Preview and even iPhoto. In March this year I moved over to shooting mainly in RAW, with each image converted to DNG upon import, but earlier photo’s right back to pre 2000 were in the popular jpg format. When I tried out Lightroom 1.2 I selected that meta data should be stored in the jpg image file, in Tiger this was no problem, everything went on fine. But something in there causes some major problems with Leopard. At present Adobe claim that Lightroom is not fully supported in Leopard but I can not really see it being a total Adobe affair. If they were working fine in Tiger I’m also looking at Apple to fix this. There is a work around but that involves manually removing a set of meta from each images, way too time consuming for me. So I guess I wait for an update from either side to fix this.
Should You Upgrade?
Put it this way I have no regrets over the £80 upgrade fee. OK it is not without it’s hiccups and no matter what I try I can not get 'Back To My Mac’ to work but the bits that do work are so much better. mail.app is now really able to be taken seriously, with the addition of Notes and To-do’s. So much so I’ve moved everything over to .Mac and IMAP to share with my iBook. There are a few views missing in iCal but now with improved syncing support I can share calendars with more confidence. iDisk has finally moved into something usable, I’ve actually stopped using box.net and moved back to Apple’s native version. Moving files back and from work is so mach easier now, plus I now feel like I’m getting something out of my .Mac membership. True there are a few applications that don’t work or will be unstable but I can not really think that this will last for long. When you way weigh this up against the speed and smoothness of everything now it is well worth it, especially if you are an Intel Mac owner, nice and speedy now.