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Leopard's hits and misses: A spotty record

Now that we've used Apple's new OS for a week, what do we like and what falls short?

By Michael DeAgonia, Ryan Faas, Ken Mingis and Seth Weintraub
November 5, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Macintosh fans can be a peculiar lot. They may follow Apple's every move with rapt attention, but they're not shy about sharing their thoughts when they think the company has fallen short.

That even applies to such feverishly anticipated developments as the release of a new version of OS X: Just check out almost any Apple OS forum these days for a sampling of Leopard-related snark, mere days after it shipped.

Here at Computerworld, we've been spending a lot of time with Leopard ourselves, peering under the hood and poring over the various changes, updates and tweaks, and we're ready to weigh in, too. As good as it is -- and it is a nice piece of code work -- Leopard isn't perfect. No operating system is.

So here's where we point to a few of the things we think Apple missed on the way to its Leopard launch, or things that weren't missed but simply could have been done better. (There are surely others we haven't found yet, so feel free to propose your own candidates in our Comments section below.) Of course, it wouldn't be fair not to offer a few thoughts on what Apple did extremely well, so those are included as well.

For demonstration purposes, we're including some screenshots and videos that we ran with previous Leopard stories and collected in our Leopard image gallery. If you click through to the image gallery from this story, you'll need to use your Back button to get back here.

First up: The Leopard misses.

Misses

Time Machine
Time Machine is the coolest app included in Leopard, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. In fact, it can be a tad confusing when you're first setting it up using the System Preferences pane.

By default, Time Machine backs up everything on your computer, and is even smart enough to know not to copy files on the external hard drive you're using as your backup.

So far, so good. But let's say you have more data on your computer than there's room for on your backup drive. That means you're going to have to pick some things for Time Machine not to back up. Here's where things get dicey.

  Excluding files and folders to back up.

To exclude files in Time Machine, press the + button -- not exactly the intuitive choice. (Click for larger view.)
To deselect files, you have to click the + button to add items to your "Do not back up" list. It's counterintuitive; you click "add" to subtract. It would make more sense to use the + button to add whichever drive, folder or file you want saved, or use the button to delete items from the backup list.

No doubt Apple intends Time Machine to back up everything by default, which is why it's set up this way. Just make sure you buy a large enough hard drive, and this won't be an issue.

The Dock
Before Apple released the final version of Leopard last Friday, some of those with access to prerelease builds had complained about the Dock; in particular, the way looked when it was placed on the left or right side of the screen.

Running it up the side seems natural in this era of widescreen monitors, as that's where the extra screen real estate is. Why force windows to be smaller than they need to be by sticking the Dock along the bottom of the screen? And yet, that's where Apple seems to naturally think it should be.



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