Sam Brown

Mac OS X Leopard First Impressions

My Leopard install DVD arrived at 1130 today quite a few hours before it comes out in the UK at 6PM, and several more hours before it comes out in the States. I think this is the only time that Apple releases anything in the UK before America. After 45 minutes of installation I started using Leopard an hour ago and here are my rough first impressions.

It’s fast!

Hooray.. this is something I was hoping for and several people had mentioned slight speed improvements in their articles on pre-release Leopard but its true. The Finder is fast, opening Files and Applications definitely seems to be faster and just the general use of the OS seems to be more speedy.

Spotlight is finally what we all wished it was in Tiger, blazing fast and is now finally a match for the mighty Quicksilver, instantly finding things as you type. Brilliant!


Desktop and Dock

The new Dock is nice, if a little wider than it was in Tiger. 3D reflections are pretty, the ability to see which Apps are running isn’t quite as obvious as it could be. Stacks are neat, I have yet to really use them but the Downloads stack in the fanned out view is great.

A new menu bar sits atop the Desktop and the semi-transparent background is something I have longed for, its not quite the MenuShade that you could install on Tiger but its better. The rounded corners at the top left and right of yesteryear have gone making for a cleaner and sharper menu bar.


The most talked about new Finder feature is CoverFlow and while it is a bit gimmicky it really does shine when you get the ability to use QuickView to… quickly view your files, flipping through PDFs and previewing videos is a breeze and QuickView is a welcome addition!

Finders Sidebar now more closely resembles that of the sidebar in iTunes with better segregation and some default Smart Search folders which is good.

Finder Sidebar

Time Machine

Unfortunately I will have to report back on this part of the new OS. Plugging in my new drive popped up the Time Machine preference pane which asked me if I would like to use this drive for my backups. The first scheduled backup is happening as I type. The Time Machine application itself looks very nice, but other than floating up and down from my screen I have not been able to properly use it yet.

Time Machine First Backup


Already proving useful I have Space 1 set up for web browsing and email, Space 2 has Photoshop and Coda running in it and Space 3 has iTunes. The ability to automatically open Coda for example into Space 2 is a great Preference, Photoshop CS3 doesn’t seem to want to open in Space 2 instead opening in the currently active space. The ability to move Photoshop seems to be defunct too.

My only gripe with Spaces so far is that I feel like I am getting a flash of motion sickness when I Alt+Tab between my apps and the windows are flying up, down, and diagonally left and right! Eee…

Mail, Chat and Safari

The unified new look is great and stands out well in Safari. I use Thunderbird over Mail so have no words of wisdom for you there and iChat looks to be significantly updated in a good way!

Final Thoughts

The uber drop shadow on the active finder window is interesting, not sure if I like that yet but it certainly does make it more obvious! The white drop shadow on the Safari Bookmarks Bar and Tabs is slightly blinding, hopefully I’ll get used to that.

White Drop Shadow

The rounded corners on the drop down menus are very nice and definitely look the part, props there. As well as the search box at the top of all the Help menus, a nice feature that will no doubt be often used.

Rounded Boxes

I have to say thus far I am very impressed and look forward to finding and using more of the great new features (300) in Leopard. There is still a lot I have yet to look into and I’m sure there will be a follow up post to this one soon enough.

Purchase Mac OS X Leopard

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qrayg 26 October 2007, 10:50 #1

Good review. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

Ted Winder 26 October 2007, 11:01 #2

Nice post! I just can’t wait to get my hands on Leopard!

Might get it at MacLiveExpo tomorrow….

Chris 27 October 2007, 21:11 #3

Great review and screen shots. Can’t wait to get my hands on Leopard when I get my new MacBook for Christmas.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.