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Snow Leopard Misunderstood
Apple made it very clear in their marketing and pricing of Snow Leopard that this operating system was intended to provide various speed enhancements to Leopard, which Apple has always claimed was the greatest OS available. As such, much of the focus on the user's end has been about the speed boosts from the conversion to 64-bits or the fact that Finder has been completely rewritten in Cocoa. Developers have focused on fantastic technologies such as Grand Central Dispatch which make multi-threading an absolute breeze to include in any program.
However, that's certainly not to say that Apple hasn't provided some interface enhancements as well. While this may not have been the overhaul in functionality that Tiger or Leopard were, the latest offering does include some cool little features that every Mac user will learn to enjoy. In the sections below, I will show you five of my favorite new additions to Snow Leopard.
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1. Exposé Redefined
Snow Leopard has introduced a tweaked Exposé that includes a couple of nifty enhancements. Firstly, you do not need to press F10 to access Exposé. Simply click and hold your mouse on the dock icon to activate Exposé. From here, you can see all your windows, but you can also quit (or force quit if you hold option after Exposé has launched), hide, and perform other options on the application. Secondly, once you're in Exposé, you can zoom in to any window without leaving Exposé by hovering your mouse over the window and pressing the space bar. While these tweaks might not sound like a lot, they definitely make organizing your windows significantly more easy.
Plus, when combined with the next tip, the re-engineered Exposé can significantly reduce overall clutter on your dock.
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2. Minimize Windows to The Application Icon
One new choice that might help reduce excessive dock clutter is to have all windows minimize to their respective dock icons. So, instead of the windows minimizing to the right end of the dock, they will "disappear" by going behind the open application's icon in the dock. The only way to access the window is then to use the Window section in the menu bar or to use Exposé. This is great if you have a lot of windows open and already have an incredibly high number of dock icons.
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3. Get More Information on Bluetooth, Wireless, and Battery
Pressing the option button while clicking on the Bluetooth, wireless, or battery icons on the right section of the menu bar will give you a lot of extra options. You can see the type of wireless network you're connected to, or quickly open Bluetooth Explorer. Perhaps the most useful is if you option-click on the battery icon. This will give you a condition report that will let you know if you need to replace your battery.
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4. Show the Date in Menu Bar
One small complaint of previous OS X releases is that only the time is in the menu bar. This has been fixed with Snow Leopard. Simply go to Date & Time Preferences -> Clock, and then under date options, choose "Show date". This will display the date alongside the time in the menu bar.
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5. Put Back
We've all had this situation before: you delete a file or folder, only to later realize that it was a mistake but can't for the life of you remember where the file/folder was originally. Snow Leopard introduces a really cool feature called "Put Back" that addresses this annoyance. Simply right click on a file in the Trash and then select Put Back. The object in the trash will magically go back to where it came from. So if you accidentally deleted the file out of your Documents folder, choosing Put Back will send the file back to your Documents folder.
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Anyone upgrading from an older operating system to Snow Leopard will find it an absolute joy to use, and it's the little features like these that make it, arguably, the best OS choice. For example, the Put Back feature is incredibly useful when a lot of files/folders have been deleted that have come from numerous different places. Before, you'd have to sort everything else and copy them to their respective locations. Now, simply select the file and choose Put Back. Similarly, being able to get a handle on your battery status without interpreting the cryptic power numbers in System Profiler is a great feature. Hopefully, these and the remainder of the above tips will make your experience with Snow Leopard that much more enjoyable and easy.