David Pogue at Macworld 2008: Leopard secrets revealed
By David Pogue
David Pogue at Macworld
You’re here to learn some of my Leopard secrets. I’m going to try to save you the trouble of buying the book and hauling 900 pages home because I’m going to tell you some of the coolest tips and tricks in Leopard. So Apple said there are 300 new features in Leopard. In general that’s correct, however Apple is among them counting like each new screensaver as one and, I kid you not, the Russian spell-checker as one, and I made fun of this in my review of Leopard. I said, “And by the way, Apple is counting the new Braille font and the new Dutch spelling checker as two of the features.” Of course I hear from six Dutch people who are like, “What? I’ve been waiting for this forever.” You can’t win.
When you write for the New York Times, this is note a joke, the New York Times newspaper gets 400 letters, the paper kind, a day, like, “You should know that when a semicolon follows a parenthesis the quotation mark goes inside” – it’s like oh my god. Americans have way too much time on their hands, and for me it’s even worse because I’m writing the technology column, right? So I’ll say, “I got a new mouse pad today” and I swear to god I’ll get an e-mail that says, “What, are you in bed with the mouse pad industry you shill? You’re on the paycheck?” Oh my god.
So there are in fact 300 new features and as it happens every time when Apple comes out with a new Mac OSX they overplay some of them and don’t mention some good ones at all. So I’m gonna show you some of the good ones that Apple doesn’t mention at all. So this is very minor but very cool. In the finder there are now four different views. You can get to them by pressing command 1, 2, 3 and 4. There’s icon view, list view, column view, and the new one, this is the cover flow view. Steve Jobs has done a perfectly adequate job of explaining this, but all of them now have a much better view options dialogue box. That’s command J for view options, and they’re different for each view, and there’s some really great stuff in here.
First of all they no longer default to changing the changes you make to every window on the computer. Yay. So now I’m changing the icon size only for this folder. Let’s see here. Where is my -? I had a nice folder full of goodies for you. I once spoke at a conference where all the geeks in the audience had laptops and they were all collaborating on notes. They had a giant chat room so they weren’t duplicating each other’s efforts taking notes on the talks. It was an O’Reilly conference and as a Californian progressive experiment they decided one day that they would project the chat room on the screen behind the speaker so that everybody could see what the notes were in real time and it didn’t go well because the guy would say, “Blah, blah, blah” and someone would go, “That’s not true” and put up a URL of a webpage that disproved what he said.
But the worst at one point, a speaker’s cell phone went off and he goes, “Oh it’s just my son” and the guy goes, “The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon.” Oh man, it was so funny. Okay. So anyway, the cool thing about this is for the first time since Mac OS9, of course you can change the background color or picture, but for the first time you can now adjust the grid spacing. You can now fit so much more. So you can have great control over the grid spacing as well as the icon size, and what’s worth noticing is you can do the same thing on the desktop, which gets really useful. You can make it look like almost anything you want, and what I like to do is put the icon labels not underneath but to the right and make the grid spacing tight and make the icon small so basically I have on my desktop this handy little small icon view. It’s very, very cool.
The command J, which both produces and dismisses the style box, is also profoundly useful in column view because unlike all other versions of Mac OSX you may notice they’re always alphabetical. You’ve never been able to change to sort by date or by size or by kind. Now you can. There are no headings up here like in other views by command J, look at this, arrange by. I can now see my icons in a column view by size order or in date order. That’s a first. That has never been in Mac OSX before.
I will be the first to admit that Leopard is glitchy. I heard it from an Apple programmer that they wanted four more months and Steve Jobs wouldn’t let them have it so they had to get this thing out the door and it is glitchy. There are things that don’t work. There are weird things that go on. I’m told that they’re working on this giant update, 10.5.2, which is the biggest update in Mac OS history. It’s going to be hundreds and hundreds of megabytes that’s supposed to finally fix Leopard, which is a relief.
I’ve had feedback from the book, “Love your book but why don’t you point out that Leopard is a piece of crap?” Well the biggest problem is the book has a longer shelf life than the bugs. They’re gonna fix the bugs probably this month. The book is still gonna be on the shelf. So if I write up these bugs and then they’re gone, then the book is gonna be no longer correct and I’m gonna look like a moron. There’s some reference to it in the introduction but in general because of the time issue I don’t take the time to document all that stuff.
But one of the reasons that I stick with Leopard despite the glitches that I’m experiencing is this thing called Quick Look. It’s absolutely phenomenal, and Apple is very proud of it. There are a number of different ways to trigger Quick Look. Let me just see something here. So Quick Look is a way to see inside a document without having to open it and wait for the application to open. They give you nine different ways to trigger it. There’s an icon up here where you click this and that opens the Word documents. There are various keyboard shortcuts listed up here like command Y, but nowhere is it written that the spacebar is another way, and so much easier, and it’s so brilliant. Except when you’re editing a file name, what are you doing with the space bar? Nothing. It’s the biggest key on the keyboard and it’s totally wasted until today. It’s absolutely wasted on everybody else’s operating systems too.
So it works with pictures, PDFs, text files, Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, V cards. Oh this is cool. It even works with fonts so I can highlight a font, hit the spacebar and get an instant display of what that font looks like without having to fire up any program or anything like that. That right there is worth $7 of the book’s $21 price but I’m not here to sell books, I’m just saying. So it’s phenomenally useful and it’s also got these variations that are really cool. Look, that’s a Photo Shop document. So there is a full screen mode and most people hit the spacebar if they want to get a better look, then they hit this button to get the full screen mode. You’re all wasting your time if you do that.
What you should do instead is just option click this button up here. It changes to a play button for some reason but it goes directly to full screen mode, so that’s a handy tip. Another one is if you highlight more than one picture and you hit the spacebar you get a slideshow, a self-running slideshow. You don’t have to do anything but sit back and enjoy. I’m still enjoying this one. So now off it goes and these are my kids. This is why you like to have a digital SLR camera instead of a pocket camera because those moments will never come again and you want these pictures to look as great as they can. My daughter is twice that age now. She’ll never look that way again. I’m twice that age.
So anyway, if you wiggle your mouse you get these options like next and previous. You get this one. Yeah, my wife is pregnant. That’s why she’s always hiding behind one of the other kids in the pictures. So if you click this one you get an index sheet of everything that you highlighted so you can look through them all at once and if you – you click the one you want, and then this one takes whatever you’ve highlighted and adds them to iPhoto for you. This one exits the full screen and hits spacebar again to close it up. So I can’t tell you how often I use this thing. Quick Look is the main reason I’m stuck on Leopard because it works on the trash. You’re about to empty the trash. You give it one last look. What the heck is that? Spacebar. Oh yeah, I don’t need that, or yeah, I need that and you rescue it, so fantastic.