Tag Archives: Mac OS

Really cool reasons to get Snow Leopard

There’s much more to Snow Leopard than just a few tweaks. Apple set out – as they put it themselves – to “build a better Leopard”, and it shows in every streamlined action and snappy response time.

What that means for you, the user, is that you get some of your precious time back: time that you’re not spending waiting for an application to launch or a spring-loaded folder to open. That in turn means less frustration: Snow Leopard (and Mac OS X in general) is about technology that respects the user by keeping out of their way.

What about Apple’s other claims? For instance, does Snow Leopard really save your disk space? The iMac we’re using had 152.06GB on its hard disk before we installed the new OS.

And afterwards? It’s currently showing 145.14GB used: a saving of 6.92GB. And that’s as near as dammit to Apple’s claimed 7GB saving, we reckon.

Extra support

One of the other aspects of Macs that we don’t think gets nearly enough attention is their continued support for people with disabilities.

From its early days, Mac OS had features such as Sticky Keys to help those who have difficulties using the keyboard. The Universal Access System Preferences pane now offers a wide range of support technologies built in to Mac OS X, and Snow Leopard incorporates the drivers for more than 40 models of Braille display.

If you use your Mac at home, Snow Leopard now has built-in support for Microsoft’s Exchange Server mail, calendars and contact lists.

What does that mean? Well, if you’ve been trying to cajole your work’s IT department into letting you bring your MacBook into the office, they’ve now run out of excuses! They’ll find system requirements for Exchange on Apple’s site.

All in all, then, we would say that it’s worth upgrading to Snow Leopard – for those of you who can. If you have a PowerPC Mac, Leopard is still supported, and will be updated for a while yet. What follows is a summary of some of the features of Snow Leopard that we’re enjoying. And we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy them too.

1. Safari – so good

Alright, we know – Safari 4.0 has actually been out for quite a while now, but for some of you, this might be the first time you’ve seen it. Certainly Snow Leopard’s default browser has much to recommend it: rendering of pages is fast, accurate and mostly error-free.


It’s even one of the most standards-compliant browsers out there, and passes the Web Standards Project’s stringent Acid 3 Test with flying colours (visit acidtests.org for more details).

2. Where in the world…

Take a look at the Time Zone tab in System Preferences > Date & Time. You’ll probably find it’s now a much more accurate reflection of wherever you are at present. That’s because Snow Leopard rather helpfully uses the same Core Location technology as the iPhone and iPod touch to work out your exact location.

Location support

And if you’re the globe trotting type, no longer will you need to remember to reset the time zone after a journey – Snow Leopard does that automatically too.

3. Printer support

Mac OS X has always been a good citizen when it comes to supporting a large number of printers. And now it’s even more helpful than ever before. It will look for local printers on installation, and even checks for their latest drivers over the internet.


The underlying technology behind Snow Leopard’s printer support is called CUPS (which stands for Common Unix Printing System) and it’s also a brand-new feature this time around.

4. Watch your language

The International System Preferences pane has received a makeover too. Now called Language & Text, it’s a point of reference for all system-related uses of text. Here’s where you set your Mac to use British-English spelling, and also set up keyboard shortcuts for symbols and phrases.


For instance, already enabled for you is the shortcut that converts ‘(c)’ into ©. You can also use it to turn simple combinations of letters into words or phrases: for instance ‘MF’ could become ‘MacFormat’.

5. Taking a shortcut

Remake or remodel could be the watchwords for Snow Leopard with Keyboard being another of the Preferences panes receiving an overhaul.


Once you’ve launched it, choose the Keyboard Shortcuts tab and you’ll see what we mean. Now properly codified, Keyboard Shortcuts offers you – the user – the chance to add, remove or modify the keyboard shortcuts you want.

For instance, if there’s an application you want to launch with the touch of a key, go ahead. Want to change the default keys for Exposé? No problem.

6. For the record

Ever had to explain one of the finer points of Mac OS X to a Mac newbie over the phone? Well, now you don’t have to, thanks to QuickTime X (you could always ignore your phone of course, but that would be rude).


In QuickTime Player X, go to File > New Screen Recording, use the pulldown menu to choose your sound and quality settings, choose a place to save your movie, and record yourself explaining the problem with full visuals. You could even post your tutorial masterpiece to YouTube (go to Share > YouTube…).

7. Exclusive preview

And the updated features just keep on rolling in – including Preview, which proudly continues with its onward march towards being one of the most useful applications bundled with Mac OS X. Its handling of text selection from PDFs is absolutely superb now, and it will even grab text that is arranged in columns.

PDF preview

Annotations have also seen something of an improvement in this version too. If you click on the Annotate toolbar button you’ll see that a full toolbar appears at the bottom of the application window.

You’ll find that this makes it much easier to select and use multiple tools, further speeding up your work and increasing your efficiency.

8. Disk-onsolate…

Do you remember the bad old days, when you’d try to eject a disk from your Mac’s desktop, only to be told that it couldn’t be ejected because it was ‘…in use by another application’? Extremely frustrating. But which application was actually using it?

Disk in use

Snow Leopard now works out which application is currently using the disk in question. It will then present the information in the ‘disk in use’ dialogue before advising you to quit the application and try it again.

9. Pair remote

Using the General tab of the Security System Preferences pane you can also choose to pair your Apple Remote with your Mac so that another remote in the vicinity doesn’t trigger Front Row, either by accident or design: simply click Pair…, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Pair remote

You can also disable all remotes: handy if you’re in an open location and your Mac might pick up signals from others.

10. Firewall

To prevent unauthorised servers contacting your Mac, go to System Preferences > Security > Firewall, and hit Start (you might need to authenticate first; click the padlock icon and enter an administrator password).


To enable incoming connections for certain apps click Advanced…, then add the app you want by clicking +, finding the app and clicking Add.

11. Control remotes

Using the General tab of the Security System Preferences pane you can pair your Apple Remote with your Mac so that another remote in the vicinity doesn’t trigger Front Row: simply click Pair…, and follow the on-screen instructions.


You can also disable all remotes: handy if you’re in an open location and your Mac might pick up signals from others.

12. How does that grab you?

To make a screenshot hit Shift+Cmd+3 to grab the whole screen, Shift+Cmd+4 to grab a window. Not so long ago, you’d have to wade through images named Picture 1, Picture 2, and so on, to find the right one.


Well, not any more: Snow Leopard adds the date and time to screenshot file names, making it easy to find the one you need.

via TechRadar

Mac OS evolution


Witness the evolution through time of Macintosh’s operating system, Mac OS. See where it all began, from System 1.0 (1984) to Mac OS X 10.5 (2007).

System 1.0 (January 1984)



The first version of the Mac OS is easily distinguished between other operating systems from the same period because it does not use a command line interface; it was one of the first operating systems to use an entirely graphical user interface. Additional to the system kernel is the Finder, an application used for file management, which also displays the Desktop.

These releases could only run one application at a time, though special application shells such as Switcher could work around this to some extent. Systems 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0 used a flat file system with only one kludged level of folders, called Macintosh File System (MFS); its support for folders (subdirectories) was incomplete. System 2.1 (Finder 5.0) introduced the HFS (Hierarchical File System) which had real directories. System 3.0 was introduced with the Mac Plus, adding support for several new technologies including SCSI and AppleTalk, and introducing Trash “bulging”, i.e., when the Trash contained files, it would gain a bulged appearance. System 4.0 came with the Mac SE and Macintosh II.

The System series included the following versions:

  • System 1.0, Finder 1.0 (January 1984)
  • System 1.1, Finder 1.1g (May 1984)
  • System 2.0, Finder 4.1 (April 1985)
  • System 2.1, Finder 5.0 (September 1985)
  • System 3.0, Finder 5.1 (January 1986)
  • System 3.2, Finder 5.3 (June 1986)
  • System 3.3, Finder 5.4 (January 1987)
  • System 3.4, Finder 6.1
  • System 4.0, Finder 5.4 (March 1987)
  • System 4.1, Finder 5.5 (April 1987)

System Software 5 (October 1987)


System Software 5 (also referred to as simply System 5) added MultiFinder, an extension which let the system run several programs at once. The system used a co-operative multitasking model, meaning that time was given to the background applications only when the running application yielded control. A clever change in system functions that applications were already calling to handle events made many existing applications share time automatically. Users could also choose to not use MultiFinder, and thus stick with using a single application at a time as in previous releases of the system software.

System Software 5 was also the first Macintosh operating system to be given a unified “Macintosh System Software” version number, as opposed to the numbers used for the System and Finder files.

The System Software 5 series included the following versions:

  • System Software 5.0 (System 4.2, Finder 6.0, MultiFinder 1.0)
  • System Software 5.1 (System 4.3, Finder 6.0, MultiFinder 1.0)

System Software 6 (September 1988)


System Software 6 (also referred to as simply System 6) was a consolidation release of the Mac OS, producing a complete, stable, and long-lasting operating system.

The System Software 6 series included the following versions:

  • System Software 6.0 (System 4.4, Finder 6.1, MultiFinder 1.1 — the version numbers of the System and MultiFinder files were changed to 6.0 just before the public release)
  • System Software 6.0.1
  • System Software 6.0.2
  • System Software 6.0.3
  • System Software 6.0.4
  • System Software 6.0.5
  • System Software 6.0.6 (only released as an embedded part of the ROM of the Macintosh Classic)
  • System Software 6.0.7
  • System Software 6.0.8 (identical to System 6.0.7, but configured with System 7.0 printing software for printer sharing with System 7)
  • System Software 6.0.8L (only for Macintosh Classic, Classic II, PowerBook 100, Macintosh LC, LC II)

System 7 (May 1991)


On May 13, 1991 System 7 was released. It was the second major upgrade to the Mac OS, adding a significant user interface overhaul, new applications, stability improvements and many new features.

The most significant feature of System 7 was probably virtual memory support, which previously had only been available as a third-party add-on. Accompanying this was a move to 32-bit memory addressing, necessary for the ever-increasing amounts of RAM available. Earlier versions of Mac OS had used the lower 24 bits for addressing, and the upper 8 bits for flags. This had been an effective solution for earlier Macintosh models with very limited amounts of RAM, but it became a liability later. Apple described code that assumed the 24 + 8-bit addressing as being “not 32-bit clean”, and most such applications would crash when 32-bit addressing was enabled by the user.

One notable System 7 feature was the built-in co-operative multitasking. In System Software 6, this function was optional through the MultiFinder. System 7 also introduced aliases, similar to shortcuts that were introduced in later versions of Microsoft Windows. System extensions were enhanced, by being moved to their own subfolder; a subfolder in the System Folder was also created for the control panels. In System 7.5, Apple included the Extensions Manager, a previously third-party program which simplified the process of enabling and disabling extensions.

Systems 7.1 and 7.5 introduced a large number of “high level” additions, considered by some to be less well thought-out than they could have been. Some of the most confusing were the reliance on countless System Enablers to support new hardware, and various System update extensions with inconsistent version numbering schemes. Overall stability and performance also gradually worsened during this period, which introduced PowerPC support and 68K emulation.

Stability returned with Mac OS 7.6, which dropped the “System” moniker as a more-trademarkable name was needed in order to license the OS to the growing market of third-party Macintosh clone manufacturers.

The System 7 series included the following versions:

  • System 7.0 (released in late 1991; integrated MultiFinder always enabled)
  • System 7.0.1 (introduced with LC II and Quadra series)
  • System 7 Tuner (update for both 7.0 and 7.0.1)
  • System 7.1
  • System 7.1 Pro (version 7.1.1, combined with PowerTalk, Speech Manager & Macintalk, Thread Manager)
  • System 7.1.2 (first version for Macs equipped with a PowerPC processor)
  • System 7.1.2 (only for Performa/LC/Quadra 630 series, very quickly replaced by 7.5)
  • System 7.5
  • System 7.5.1 (System 7.5 Update 1.0 — the first Macintosh operating system to call itself “Mac OS”)
  • System 7.5.2 (first version for Power Macs that use PCI expansion cards, usable only on these Power Macs and PowerBooks 5300 and Duo 2300)
  • System 7.5.3 (System 7.5 Update 2.0)
  • System 7.5.3L (only for Mac clones)
  • System 7.5.3 Revision 2
  • System 7.5.3 Revision 2.1 (only for Performa 6400/180 and 6400/120)
  • System 7.5.4, never released
  • System 7.5.5
  • Mac OS 7.6 (name formally changed because of the experimental clone program, although System 7.5.1 and later used the “Mac OS” name on the splash screen)
  • Mac OS 7.6.1

Mac OS 8 (July 1997)


Mac OS 8 was released on July 26, 1997, shortly after Steve Jobs returned to the company. It was mainly released to keep the Mac OS moving forward during a difficult time for Apple. Initially planned as Mac OS 7.7, it was renumbered “8″ to exploit a legal loophole to accomplish Jobs’ goal of terminating third-party manufacturers’ licenses to System 7 and shutting down the Macintosh clone market.[citation needed] 8.0 added a number of features from the stillborn Copland project, while leaving the underlying operating system unchanged. A multi-threaded Finder was included, enabling better multi-tasking. The GUI was changed in appearance to a new shaded greyscale look called Platinum, and the ability to change the appearance themes (also known as skins) was added with a new control panel. This capability was provided by a new “appearance” API layer within the OS, one of the few significant changes.

Apple sold 1.2 million copies of Mac OS 8 in its first two weeks of availability and 3 million within six months. Mac OS 8.1 saw the introduction of an updated version of the Hierarchical File System called HFS Plus , which fixed many of the limitations of the earlier system (HFS Plus continues to be used in Mac OS X). There were some other interface changes such as separating network features from printing (the venerable, and rather odd Chooser was at last headed for retirement), and some improvements to application switching. However, in underlying technical respects, Mac OS 8 was not very different from System 7.

The Mac OS 8 series included the following versions:

  • Mac OS 8.0
  • Mac OS 8.1 (last version to run on either a 68K or PowerPC processor, added support for USB on the Bondi iMac, added support for HFS+)
  • Mac OS 8.5 (first version to run only on a PowerPC processor, added built-in support for Firewire on the PowerMac G3)
  • Mac OS 8.5.1
  • Mac OS 8.6 (included a new nanokernel for improved performance and Multiprocessing Services 2.0 support, added support for the PowerPC G4 processor)

Mac OS 9 (October 1999)



Mac OS 9 was released on October 23, 1999. It was generally a steady evolution from Mac OS 8. Early development releases of Mac OS 9 were numbered 8.7. MacOS 9 added improved support for AirPort wireless networking. It introduced an early implementation of multi-user support (though not considered a true multi-user operating system by modern standards). An improved find-sherlock engine with several new search plug-ins. Mac OS 9 also provided a much improved memory implementation and management. AppleScript was improved to allow TCP/IP and networking control. Mac OS 9 also made the first use of the centralized Apple Software Update to find and install OS and hardware updates. Some other resplendent and unique features included its on-the-fly file encryption software with code signing and Keychain technologies, Remote Networking and File Server packages and much improved list of USB drivers.

OS 9 also added some transitional technologies to help application developers adopt some OS X features before the introduction of the new OS to the public, again easing the transition. These included new APIs for the file system, and the bundling of the Carbon library that apps could link against instead of the traditional API libraries — apps that were adapted to do this can be run natively on OS X as well. Other changes were made in OS 9 to allow it to be booted in the “classic environment” within OS X. This is a compatibility layer in OS X (in fact an OS X application, known in developer circles as “the blue box”) that runs a complete Mac OS 9 operating system, so allowing applications that have not been ported to Carbon to run on Mac OS X. This is reasonably seamless, though “classic” applications retain their original OS 8/9 appearance and do not gain the OS X “Aqua” appearance.

The Mac OS 9 series included the following versions:

  • Mac OS 9.0
  • Mac OS 9.0.2
  • Mac OS 9.0.3
  • Mac OS 9.0.4
  • Mac OS 9.1
  • Mac OS 9.2
  • Mac OS 9.2.1
  • Mac OS 9.2.2

Mac OS X (March 2001)



Mac OS X is the newest of Apple Computer’s Mac OS line of operating systems. Although it is officially designated as simply “version 10″ of the Mac OS, it has a history largely independent of the earlier Mac OS releases.

The Mac OS X series include the following versions:

  • Mac OS X Public Beta “Kodiak”
  • Mac OS X v10.0 “Cheetah”
  • Mac OS X v10.1 “Puma”
  • Mac OS X v10.2 “Jaguar”
  • Mac OS X v10.3 “Panther”
  • Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger”
  • Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard”
  • Mac OS X v 10.6 “Snow leopard”