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?

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Hits

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Time Machine

OK, so maybe we grumbled a little about how the user interface works in the Time Machine preference pane. So what? You'll eventually figure it out. Once you do, Time Machine does basically one thing -- back up your files -- and it does that really well and in the most graphically appealing way possible.

You may never have backed up files before, or maybe you only do it when you sense trouble and are worried your hard drive is about to blow up. Now Apple has taken the most mundane of chores and turned into something akin to a video game. You'll want to back up your files just so you can show your friends the celestial Time Machine browser. They'll be impressed, and more importantly, your files will be safe.

Stacks

Another "Yes, but ..." here: As annoying as the shape-shifting Dock is, the addition of stacks is both useful and visually impressive. They let you see what's in a folder in the Dock without having to actually open the folder or even find it in your system.

Just click once on the folder, and icons representing all of your files sweep out in an arc across your screen. Click the file to open it, or click the arrow to immediately go to it in the Finder.

Front Row

For Apple's Media Center fans, Front Row was a hit from Day One. It provided a great interface for browsing the iTunes media library and operated from a minimalist remote control that had a similar form factor as the original iPod shuffle. However, its inability to play non-iTunes Media was widely criticized; also, it only was installed only on new machines and ran a bit slow.

Leopard changes all of that. Any machine that runs Leopard now runs Front Row -- it's right there in the Applications folder. You can control it with the keyboard, a Bluetooth remote or the traditional Apple Remote.

 
Quick Look
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Quick Look offers a sneak peek at images, movies and more. (Click for larger view.)
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It now also boasts the improved AppleTV Interface that allows you to browse your whole machine. With the proper codecs, it can play a much wider array of movies as well -- and not just from the host machine, but also from other machines and media servers on your network. Quick Look

For many file types, the Finder has provided some preview capabilities for a while in column view, but Quick Look makes virtually every file preview-able. For Microsoft Office files especially, it makes it possible to just quickly skim a file for specific pieces of information without waiting for any of the Office apps to actually launch.

It's also great for getting a quick preview of attachments from within Mail rather than having to open or save the file first. All in all, it's a cool feature that turns out to be quite a timesaver in any number of situations.

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