$29. What’s not to like about Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard? Did you upgrade? Or, will you wait until Apple irons out the kinks in the newest kitty?
Of all the Mac cats, this one is the most unique. From the low price to the even lower expectations and smaller lines (none) Apple kisses the past goodbye (again) and says hello to tomorrow (where the next great thing resides). Here’s my little story of the trials and tribulations of the most recent, and a most unexpected Mac OS X upgrade.
Unexpected? Yes. Sure, we’ve known for a year or so that Snow Leopard would succeed Leopard as the reigning King of the Mac Jungle™, but what we did not expect was, well, not that it would arrive on time (like that ever happens), but that it would arrive early.
Apple’s release of Snow Leopard on August 28th caught many Mac software developers off guard and scrambling to get out fresh updates of their apps and utilities to be compatible with Snow Leopard’s iceberg and Prego OS.
Iceberg? Prego? Yes, my mommy told me bad things would happen when I mixed metaphors. Sorry. An iceberg is 90-percent under the water where you can’t see it. What’s new in Snow Leopard is like an iceberg. Get it?
Prego is the spaghetti sauce that has everything inside, but you can’t see it, hence the advertising slogan, “Prego. It’s in there.” Snow Leopard looks the same, but there’s plenty of new sauce inside the jar.
I did something totally different with our family Snow Leopard upgrades. For two of our four Macs I did my standard routine of a full on clean install. Why? Because it makes you feel so fresh, like the first hot bath after that time of the month.
How? Easy. Clone my Mac’s hard drive. Boot up into the clone to make sure it works. Unplug the cloned hard drive. Insert the Snow Leopard installer DVD, erase the Mac’s hard drive, launch the installer, and grab some lunch.
In less than an hour I had a fresh, clean, spring feeling emanating from my MacBook Pro and iMac. Re-installing iWork ‘09 and iLife ‘09 took less than half the normal time. Indeed, Snow Leopard is faster and feels like it.
What about our two other Macs? Taking a tip from the Grubermeister, I decided to follow Apple’s own recommended procedure on the family-used MacBook (the one with peanut butter and jelly on the screen, and a sticky mouse) and Mac mini. In other words, no clean installation; just let Snow Leopard wipe out Leopard by itself.
In about an hour I had a worrisome feeling emanating from me over what had happened to my Macs during the upgrade. Nothing? Nothing. I couldn’t see that there was a problem anywhere. The upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard worked. Mostly.
The benefit of the straight upgrade vs. a clean install was that all my Mac applications and utilities were right where I left them an hour or so earlier. What worked? Adobe Creative Suite 4 worked fine. iLife and iWork, too. As did almost every other Mac app and utility. Mostly.
Is There An Ouch?
One of my handiest, most beloved utilities, PTH Pasteboard, does not work under Snow Leopard. Before upgrading, I was cautious and checked out the web sites for all other apps and utilities to make sure I had the latest and greatest installed.
Mac software developers have hurried and scurried to get ready with their updates since Apple barely gave them a week’s notice that Snow Leopard would arrive early. Some quirks arrived, too. Mail seems to hang and show nothing in the inbox until I click another mailbox, then everything shows up fine.
Parallels Desktop won’t let me run Windows on my Snow Leopardized Mac I’ll need to upgrade to the newest version. Ditto for running cable TV through my Mac using ElGato’s Eye TV. Overall, there isn’t much on Apple’s List of Incompatible Software for Snow Leopard. Only the purest will do.
Is There A Wow?
On our two newest Macs, the MacBook Pro and iMac, the speed increase here and there is more than notable. It’s surprising. Safari pops to the screen. iTunes and iPhoto open in half the time. For our 15,000 photos it’s like scrolling through warm butter (to paraphrase His Steveness).
So, things are faster. The marriage of the Dock and Expose’ gets my blessing. QuickTime’s embedded controls remind me of me before marriage and children. Sleek, slim, svelt, and desired. Now? Not so much.
What’s New & Where’d It Go?
Looking for fun new features in a Mac OS X upgrade is like looking through presents under the tree at Christmas. It may take awhile but there’s something to be found. Except, where?
No more font smoothing options in Snow Leopard. Date and Time now puts the date in the Menubar and you can choose to have the time adapt to your time zone whereabouts. You can also minimize a window right into the Dock icon instead of the right side of the Dock.
With all those viruses, and worms, and trojan horse malware out there (facetious alert!), it’s about time Apple did something to enhance Mac security. What’d we get? More options. Less options. I’m sorry to inform you that Snow Leopard won’t let you scroll through firewall logs anymore (unless you know how).
Apple did drop in an improved file scanning method which may help to capture, seize, thwart all those soon-to-be-here Mac viruses everyone has been telling us we’ll get. Soon.
Biting the 64-bit Bullet
Hey, remember reading about all the 64-bit goodness stuffed into Snow Leopard? It turns out there’s not that much stuffing going on for most of us. I use DragThing, which displays which apps and utilities are 32-bit vs. 64-bit. What? I paid $29 and it’s not all 64-bit?
Safari and Mail are 64-bit. System Preferences and Disk Utility are 64-bit. Ditto for QuickTime X. Not iLife or iWork. And not much else. As Brett Favre is fond of saying, “Wait’ll next year.”
Ins & Outs
Scanner Sharing is in. Menubar date formatting is out (technically, it was never in). AppleScript folder is out. Expose’ in the Dock is in. Utilities > Directory is out. Spaces is in (but moved). ODBC Administrator is out (and no one knows where). The very handy ability to have live, on-the-fly, in-your-face text substitutions is in (but not in every application that uses text).
QuickTime is both in and out. Snow Leopard will install QuickTime X, but gives you the option to install QuickTime 7 (just in case you’ve become all retro). Math is also in. And out. 1024 megabytes of RAM is now just 1 GB. Snow Leopard rounds it off for you.
Overall, Snow Leopard feels faster in most of the applications and utilities on our Mac, except for the white plastic MacBook the kids use (they’ll never notice). The Dock and Expose’ marriage is a good one, as is the tryst with Stacks. Fan. Grid. List. Does anyone seriously use Fan?
What’s your mileage? How did your installation go? Still planning to wait until Windows 7 before upgrading? Share your experience in the Comments section below.