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An Overview of My Favorite Features in Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard

written by: Tampa Mac Support•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/8/2009

For those of you using an Intel-based Mac you may have been pondering the upgrade to 10.6 Snow Leopard. In this article I hope to give you some incentive to do so and also a bit of guidance.

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    The Snow Leopard Download

    For those of you hearing all of the latest craze about Apple's newest OS allow me to explain some of it's features and answer some of the commonly asked questions that have been popping up on the blogs. In this article I will discuss what I find useful about these latest "tweaks" in Apple's OS and why you may want to upgrade.

    First, let's talk about system requirements and upgrade paths. Apple's Latest OS, Snow Leopard, requires an Intel processor. Sorry for all of you older PowerPC users but it is time to upgrade your machine. The benefits are plentiful and Apple's price points have never been better, regardless of what the Microsoft commercials have been saying.

    That being said, the only other requirement to upgrade to Snow Leopard for the $29.00 price tag is that you are running 10.5 Leopard. If you are running 10.4 Tiger you must upgrade to 10.5 first or purchase the Mac Box Set which is a bargain in itself. Bundled in the Mac Box Set is 10.6 Snow Leopard, iLife '09 and iWork '09 for $169.00.

    It's apparent that Apple is trying to create the best user experience with this latest OS release. It's an affordable upgrade and well worth the costs. But enough about requirements and justification, let's discuss some of Snow Leopard's features.

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    Featureless or Feature Rich?

    Some say Apple has simply fine-tuned the current OS. Rewriting Applications in Cocoa which makes them faster and more reliable. Rewriting nearly all of almost all of the system applications allows them to actually take advantage of the 64-bit capabilities of Mac OS X. They have also inserted Exchange support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, which is incredible for any Mac users working in a Microsoft environment. Grand Central Dispatch has been implemented in order to allow your processors to quickly process an applications data without compromising your battery life and keeps your machine cooler. Apple has also improved features within Universal Access. If you are not familiar with Universal Access than most likely you don't suffer from any disabilities. Apple's Universal Access has led the industry in providing accessibility to the visually and hearing impaired. This latest upgrade brought with it improved "out of the box" support for over 40 models of braille displays. It has also redeveloped the Quick Start Visual Voiceover tutorial which walks you through setting your machine up within Universal Access. Enough of the technical developments, what visual changes did Apple introduce?

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    Eye Candy

    Apple explained early on that 10.6 was going to be all about improving and refining the OS, but that didn't stop them from throwing in a few bells and whistles. Here are a few of the visual upgrades you should look for in 10.6 Snow Leopard.

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    Built-In WiFi Strength Indicator

    If live or work in an environment with multiple wireless access points Apple has introduced a signal strength indicator in the Airport menu.

    Wireless Strength 

    You'll notice that next to your available wireless network you will see their signal strength. This is a great feature for those of us searching for the strongest access point.

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    Date & Time Improvement

    If you're like most Mac user you have the Time listed in the upper right hand corner of the screen. In the past that's all you would see and I never understood why Apple didn't allow you to add the date as well. Now, in 10.6 you can choose to display the date along with the current time. Subtle, but very useful.

    date & time 

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    Easy Icon Resizing

    In the past you could resize you icons by going to the Finder > View > Show View Options and resize your icons. Now you'll notice a slider in the lower left had corner of your Finder window when you view your items in Icon View.

    Screen shot 2009-09-04 at 2.32.00 PM 

    Pulling the slider to the left or right will allow you to quickly and easily resize any given file icon.

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    My Favorite Bit Of Eye Candy: Apple's Desktop Images

    I've always loved the images Apple bundles for the Desktop backgrounds. In this latest OS they've added a few more beautiful pieces to spice up your Desktop. You'll notice the Art folder now contains a few recognizable pieces such as; The Great Wave by the Japanese artist Hokusai, or Edward Hopper's Nighthawks which I was able to catch a glimpse of during his exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.

    Besides the Art pieces Apple has supplied with some wonderful new images in the Nature folder.

    the great wave 

    nighthawks 

    Screen shot 2009-09-04 at 2.39.05 PM