With Snow Leopard’s low upgrade price and performance boost, many Mac OS X users are expected to upgrade if not already done so. The upgrade to most users so far has been smooth, most are inconvenient by certain third party apps that are not running well with the new OS. The following are 32 things that are new or changed in Snow Leopard, helpful info before your upgrade.
1. Snow Leopard is for Intel processor based Mac only. Applications load faster in Snow Leopard. And the OS is smaller which frees up an average of 7 gigabytes of hard drive from Leopard.
2. The $29 upgrade price is for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard owner. If you are running Mac OS X older than 10.5 Leopard, you have to buy the $169 Mac Box Set which includes iLife 09 and iWorks 09. Technically though you can use the Snow Leopard DVD from the $29 purchase to upgrade Mac OS X prior to 10.5 Leopard. The Mac Box Set is an option for Leopard owners looking to upgrade iLife and iWorks together.
3. Snow Leopard has a new 64-bit architecture with improved 64-bit support. Key system applications are now 64-bit apps and Mac OS is now capable of accessing significantly more memory. Snow Leopard is a 64-bit system with support to run 32-bit applications. System applications that are still 32-bit include DVD Player, Front Row, Grapher, and iTunes.
4. Not all third-party software is guaranteed to work. As with all OS upgrades, there are going to be some third-party developers who are late on testing their software to ensure compatibility with Snow Leopard. Most applications working on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard will most likely run fine in Snow Leopard.
5. Snow Leopard by default will boot into a 32-bit kernel for smooth upgrade for most users. To boot up to 64-bit kernel, press the number ‘6’ and ‘4’ together during boot time. However only newer Macs with a 64-bit EFI chipset is able to load the 64-bit kernel. From user’s point of view, Snow Leopard is 64-bit for its system and GUI.
6. Snow Leopard has build-in support for Microsoft Exchange Server. This makes Mac OS X more enterprise-ready. The rest of changes in Snow Leopard are mainly behind the hood, and system refinements and optimization.
7. Grand Central Dispatch is a new system feature of Snow Leopard build to maximize multi-core processors. OpenCL is another system feature that allows Snow Leopard to designate some processes to the ever increasing powerful GPU graphical processor. Together, these features speed up Snow Leopard system and apps to a certain degree.
8. Expose has a new look. Windows are now line up in grids instead of all over the place.
9. Dock Expose is new in Snow leopard and should be favorite among many. Just click and hold the app icon on the dock, and windows for the app will appear in Expose grid. This makes it easy to locate the app window.
10. Menu bar can now show the full date, not just the day of the week. Previously you need a hack to achieve such.
11. When you boot into Windows using Boot Camp, you can now read Mac’s HFS+ partition. This makes it easy to share data between Mac and Windows. This is read-only access from Windows session.
12. Safari is now safe from plug-ins crashes. The whole browser does not go down together with a plug-in crash.
13. Restore deleted item from Recycle Bin will now automatically restore back to its original location.
14. Spotlight search results is now sortable for more efficient searching. You can sort search data by name, date created, date modified, size, type of file, or label.
15. Preview app in Snow Leopard allows you to annotate and markup PDF files. The annotation tools include comments, links, highlighting, strikethrough text, shapes, text, and arrows.
16. AirPort now displays signal strength for all available wireless networks on the menu. This make it easy to choose the strongest possible connection.
17. When printing, Snow Leopard displays nearby printers as well. Allowing you to identify and select the best available device for printing your document.
18. Printer drivers are now downloaded from Internet. Snow Leopard checks and automatically updates the latest printer driver.
19. Users can now create a service via Automator and add it to the Services menu.
20. Snow Leopard has build-in support for Cisco VPN connectivity which will make many enterprise users happy.
21. Snow Leopard has a brand new QuickTime system and libraries. And sports a brand new QuickTime Player X with interface makeover. With QuickTime Player X, you can record your desktop screen and audio input into video for screencasting. You can upload directly to YouTube and MobileMe from QuickTime Player X. Most QuickTime third party plugins such as Flip4Mac have yet to work with the new QuickTime engine. QuickTime 7 is still available as an optional install on Snow Leopard DVD.
22. When capturing screenshots, the images are assigned file name containing a time stamp. This makes it easy to locate screenshots.
23. Snow Leopard has a built-in text expansion/substitution utility. This includes auto-correct as you type and a universal user-defined text substitution tool.
24. Newer Mac running Snow Leopard can now be Wake On Demand over a network.
25. For those who use the Terminal app alot, the default font used is Menlo instead of Monaco. Monaco however is still available for you to select as the font for your Terminal session.
26. Snow Leopard has build-in support for malware protection. System will alert you when you try to open a malware.
27. When you try to eject an external harddisk or thumbdrive which is still in use, Snow Leopard will alert and inform you which application is locking the use of the external device. You can then switch to the program, quit the program and eject the device again.
28. Snow Leopard adds four finger gestures to the trackpad. Swipe four fingers up or down the trackpad to enter and exit Exposé. By swiping all four fingers left or right, you bring up OS X’s application switcher.
29. Snow Leopard has a new Core Location library that can detect the location you are at. The Time Zone tab under “Date & Time” makes use of this to stick a red-pin onto the map showing your current location. You can also select to set the system time based on your location.
30. You can now enter Chinese character using the multi-touch trackpad in your Mac notebook. This is similar to the Chinese text input on the iPhone.
31. The virtual keyboard on Snow Leopard is much larger than the one in Leopard. Some has speculated that Snow Leopard is build for future tablet Mac.
32. Rosetta, which is system software that allows you to run PowerPC app, is now disabled by default. When you first start up a PowerPC app, Snow Leopard will prompt you if you want to install Rosetta or not. And if you choose yes, Snow Leopard will download Rosetta from the net and install the software.