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Snow Leopard: what's to love (or at least appreciate)


As you're probably well aware, Snow Leopard broke a lot of applications, some utilities, even some older hardware. For non-developers, Snow Leopard may seem to have more negatives than positives right now. That will change -- things will smooth out as everyone catches up -- but I thought I'd point out the things that have really made me happy in Snow Leopard. As I promised in my post on what Snow Leopard broke for me, this will be a cheery post. I'm not ignoring the multitude of comments on that post, which amount to a short novel on Snow Leopard breakage, I'm just trying to lighten the mood.

No more pesky font conflicts

I'm pretty good about managing fonts. I had some niggling conflicts with Helvetica Neue, though, that I just couldn't get to disappear. The first time Snow Leopard booted, it didn't just nag me about the conflict, it offered a new button to move the offending file to the Trash. Bam. No more font conflicts and no more searching for the culprits.

System Services

Services in Leopard are highly-evolved, and in my opinion, downright amazing. Sure, all of my existing custom services broke, and many services bundled with applications aren't functioning, but again, this will smooth out with time. The simple fact of the matter is that the Services menu now functions the way it probably always should have. You no longer have to go up to the Application menu, select Services and then navigate to the service you want in a confusing list. If you had a lot of services in Leopard, you know what I'm talking about. I could never remember the exact name of a service, and there was a 70% chance it wouldn't be in a subfolder named after the application. That's no good, and Service Scrubber could rarely hack through my jungle of services in order to shorten the list. Instead of all that, we now have Services which show up in a contextual menu (right click/control-click), and are contextually intelligent, showing only applicable services. Further, you can create your own services using Automator, and make them do anything you want. It's never been this easy, even with tools like ThisService.

Rockin' Dashboard

I like Dashboard. I liked it in Leopard, and I used it a lot. I have a screen-and-a-half-full of widgets to prove it. In Leopard, though, even Dashboard Kickstart couldn't help Dashboard keep up with me most of the time. It took minutes for Dashboard to load my precious collection. In Snow Leopard, minutes have become seconds. Within 2 seconds of hitting F12, I'm tracking packages, generating Lorem Ipsum, GeistesBlitzing and more. Dashboard is suddenly much more useful.

Dock Exposé

Exposé in general is much more useful for me now. I never actually used it much in Leopard ... I always found Witch more appropriate to my needs. Now, with the more visually-accessible grid format (I know some don't like it, but I do) and other small tweaks, I'm finding myself popping it up more and more. Especially from the Dock, where pressing and holding an icon runs Exposé just for that app, and from the Task Switcher, as I detailed earlier.

Souped-up text editing

At first, I thought Text Edit had been amped up all by itself. I've come to realize that the new features, such as auto-correct and data detectors, can be enabled across just about any Cocoa text field. Theoretically, I should be able to create iCal events from dates in Safari, though I haven't looked into making that happen yet. The auto-correct feature is working for me everywhere, though (at least in Cocoa apps), and I couldn't be more tickled about it. Sure, it seems like we should have been turning "teh" into "the" a long time ago, but I'm certainly not going to complain that it's happening now.

Image Capture, Preview and my Epson scanner

My Epson Perfection 4490 Photo is as pleased as I am with the upgrade. It's been happily popping scans directly into Preview and other handy places. I'm going to look for a full replacement for Adobe Acrobat over the weekend, as I'd love to cut the bloat and speed the process. In short, though, there are a significant number of new printer and scanner drivers included in Snow Leopard, and things that "kinda" worked before are now flawlessly integrated for me.

Single column of PDF text? Your selection is ready

Improved algorithms in text selection mean that, in Preview, you can finally select just a single column of text without the selection spilling over into adjacent columns. I grab a lot of websites in PDF format for future reference, and selecting code and snippets from them has always been a pain, even in advanced editors like Acrobat and Skim. It's somewhat innocuous, but makes my life much simpler. It Just Works.

Eject? Operation cannot be completed ...

Sometimes a disk gets stuck, a dead process attaching to a file and not letting go, yielding the above error. Snow Leopard is kind enough to provide a "Force Eject" option when this happens, rather than making you resort to WhatsOpen or the like. It's similar to the aforementioned font conflict fix, just a nice touch and a pleasant surprise.

Sure, I could go on, but that's a pretty good sample of what has me personally impressed. I'm one of the fortunate ones whose workflow was fairly uninterrupted by the upgrade, so I have more time to revel in these niceties than others. Here's hoping that those of you with more significant Snow Leopard problems find resolution quickly!

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