Blog Post

A Look at Snow Leopard: New Features From the Latest Build

World of Apple this week has been kind enough to post a series of screenshots taken from the latest build of Snow Leopard that show off some of the new features coming in Apple’s (s aapl) latest OS revision. While Snow Leopard is being billed more as a streamlined and smoothed-out version of OS X 10.5, there are still some changes to the UI and feature set coming along with the improvements under the hood.

The latest build does indeed boast significant performance enhancements, including a reduced footprint for most applications, which have been rebuilt using Cocoa. The screens also show that most processes are now native Intel 64-bit, but that applications have an “Open in 32-bit” mode as well. As we’ve noted previously, Quicktime Pro features are all enabled by default, although Quicktime X is still missing. The version included with Snow Leopard is still 7.5.5.

Two new features, though arguably minor, really have me looking forward to getting my hands on Snow Leopard, because they address some of those petty, repeatedly annoying pet peeves of mine that prevent my OS X experience from being altogether pleasant.


The first is a restore feature that’s been added to the Trash Bin. Called “Put Back,” it allows you to undelete the file you just trashed, without having to drag and drop it back to its original folder. This is one of the very few things I miss from my days using Windows. Not everything Microsoft (s msft) does with their OS is a complete failure. Just most things.


The second is the ability to navigate folder structures from within the “Grid” view in stacks. I actually keep my folders in “List” mode specifically to avoid the annoying problem of having a Finder window open every time I click on an Adobe application, for instance, since they reside in nested folders. There’s even a video of this in action.

All things considered, it looks like Snow Leopard is on track to be one of the most impressive Mac OS revisions in recent memory. Kind of makes you wish they took their time and got things right the first time around, so we wouldn’t have to pay for the privilege of having Leopard’s kinks worked out. I honestly think they should offer some kind of special upgrade pricing for people who’ve already bought Leopard, but I suppose as long as they’re adding something new to the pot that’s actually useful, it’ll be worth taking the hit.

36 Responses to “A Look at Snow Leopard: New Features From the Latest Build”

  1. How about an option to merge folders instead of replacing them? I doubt I will ever own another PC but this is one feature I really miss from Windows. For me, this alone would be worth the price of the upgrade.

  2. Howie Isaacks: “I don’t understand the big deal about the “put back” feature. If I trash something by mistake, command-Z puts it back. This just seems to be a dumb feature to care about.”

    Yeah, cmd-z is great and all (IIRC there wasn’t an ‘undo’ in the OS 9 Finder), as long as you don’t do anything in between trashing and realizing you trashed the wrong file. (What confuses me, aside from Apple taking it out of the Finder in the first place, is how so many people are oblivious to the fact that ‘undo’ only reverses the *last* action taken. Even support for multiple-levels of undo wouldn’t work, because what if you don’t want to undo all the other things you did?

  3. Howie Isaacks

    I don’t understand the big deal about the “put back” feature. If I trash something by mistake, command-Z puts it back. This just seems to be a dumb feature to care about.

  4. Folder structures from grid view will be helpful.

    And how about a way for finder to keep my search term in the search box while I pick different search sources (different partitions or external drives.)

  5. While they’re fixing leopard a few slightly more MAJOR tweaks are necessary. Like sub 28kbps connections to remote webservers using Samba (hell on toast!), ridiculously flaky printing over Windows networks (a bridgehead into the PC /business market not likely anytime soon), oh and most recent macbooks with firewire connections find them disabled by a driver glitch to which there is STILL no fix. So that’s printing, networking and connecting drives/cameras. Nice one Apple!

  6. @DBX
    Apps that put their support files in the Documents folder are simply bad OS X citizens. I would kick them out or something. Or write their developers a angry e-mail.

    Office is the only really major offender I know, I don’t know when I last encountered another app that littered the Documents folder with its crap. But there is a easy solution to the Office problem: quit all Office apps and move the Office folder to Users:YourName:Library:Preferences. Apparently Microsoft figured that some find the placement of the Office user data folder inside the Documents folder objectionable and made it possible to put the Office user data folder in a more sane place (but I would guess that the Application Support folder would be even more right).

  7. @ DBX: 1) is a good idea. iTunes and Mail both have this feature, so maybe it’ll bubble up to the Finder like Cover Flow and the sidebar and all the rest. 2) I won’t comment on for fear of being branded a Windows-hating fanboy (I’m not). Suffice it to say I’m not a huge fan of the task bar. 3) Support files for apps are supposed to go in the Application Support folder in either the User Library or the local Library (never /System/Library). For example, iWork templates are store in the local “machine” Library (which is /Library) instead of in a folder with the apps, like MS Office does. Incidentally, MS Office is a prominent example of putting ‘support’ files (Entourage’s user data and profile, etc.) in the Documents folder. It’s an annoying holdover from OS 9 and earlier (as is the practice of keeping the supporting files with the app). MS’ way–the old Mac way–makes it a lot easier to find all the heavy-weight stuff to trash (except preferences, a folder for which I’ve _never_ had a reason to clean out). 4) I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think the answer is in-window menu bars. You mention having one menu bar on each screen for the active app on that screen, but you can’t have two apps simultaneously active, even if they’re on separate screens, because those two screens are functioning as one. It’s definitely a thorny problem. The easiest answer, I think, is the one that NeXT came up with: tear-off menus that can be dragged around. You lose all benefits of Fitt’s Law, but any advantage from Fitt’s Law in the current set up is outweighed by having to span monitors to get to the menu.
    The biggest feature I want is the ability to restore everything I was working on (within reason) after a restart, just like Mail, but for the whole system. Re-open apps, documents, mount disks, etc. OmniWeb has had an awesome Workspaces feature for a while, and Safari finally has (as of 3, I think) the ability to “Reopen All Windows From Last Session,” which, like Mail, also re-minimizes windows. There is nothing that I hate more than having my workspace interrupted and collapsed in order to restart.

    @ Moldyjohn: changing resolution on a flat-panel looks like crap because the resolution is faked, the image is scaled, and as a result the display is ‘fuzzier.’

    @ Curmudgeon Geographer: that’s just an icon denoting that you’re viewing the Trash at the moment. That’s the corner of the window where the icon for ‘not writable’ goes, as well. It’s very subtle, almost to the point of being useless, but it does ‘feel’ (to me) like it should be there. At least it makes sense.

  8. Resolution Independence can be enjoyed right now via Safari 4. Zooming the text (command +) in Safari 4 renders all text with Resolution Independence – while zooming, the integrity and sharpness of the fonts are maintained. Greatly looking forward to Grand Central (this alone makes the upgrade worthwhile) as well as ZFS, cocoa apps, cocoa Finder and hopefully, tabbed Finder windows.

  9. Curmudgeon Geographer

    Look at the lower left corner of the Finder window. There is a little icon that is not there in 10.5. Looks like a tiny trash can. Right now, the only way to look in the trash to click on the trash can in the Dock. Could this be a new way to open the trash from a standard Finder window?

  10. Moldyjohn

    When is Apple going to give us access to resolution independence? They were talking this up back in the Tiger days. It is supposed to be in the Leopard plumbing now.
    Why is it that changing resolution on a flat panel still looks like crap outside of that monitor’s optimum resolution?

  11. There are a few more good ideas from Windows and elsewhere I wish they’d adopt:

    1) the contextual Move To function, that makes moving files around the computer much more efficient
    2) the active Task Bar (Expose can get a bit messy as an alternative) with multiple windows dealt with by little popup menus
    3) a better allocation of functions for the Documents folder. There should be separate folders for your documents, and documents needed to support applications. They shouldn’t all be thrown into a single folder. I end up leaving Documents for the use of applications and creating a “Personal Documents” folder as a workaround.
    4) Having menu bars for each open window rather than a single one at the top of the page. The top-of-page model was great for, oh, System 7 or so, but in today’s world of multiple monitors it’s a mess. As a more “Mac-looking” alternative I’d accept creating separate top-of-screen menu bars for each monitor for whatever the active app is in that particular monitor, but having to go back from the monitor you’re working on to the monitor the menu bar is on — that’s unacceptable.

  12. Bosch's Poodle

    I’m new to this site. I’m really impressed there are so many people here who never make mistakes and hate features that make OS X so attractive to so many converts, who appreciate its user interface and ease of use, and are therefore eager to destroy the very design elements that have allowed the Apple brand to success over the past many years. Really very impressive. I’m not being sarcastic.

  13. I’m going to weigh in on “Put Back” or “Put Away” from the original Mac OS (Windows copied it! I’m surprised Darrell attributed it to Windows.). It’s one of those small, thoughtful design touches that made the Mac OS so elegant.

    No, you don’t use it all the time, but there have been instances here and there where it would have been useful. It’s only the god-like Apollos like Blain and Odo who don’t need it. And they want to be sure you know it!

    Here’s one I’d like fixed: Pre-OS X, if you pressed the disc eject and an application had a hold on the disc, the system would tell which application was holding you up. No longer is that true.

    Mac Put-Away Fanbot

  14. “As for “Put Back”, don’t be randomly throwing documents into the trash can without thinking.”

    So you’ve never moved a file to the Trash only to change your mind and decide that still needed it after all?

    @Dennis Dunlap: “Put Back” does not restore deleted files (i.e. it won’t restore files after you empty the trash); instead it’s the digital equivalent of digging through the garbage can for something you need before the garbage truck comes by.

  15. Dennis Dunlap

    “Put Back”, . . not needed for me. If I really don’t want something I have to go to my external HD backup & throw it out a second time anyway, hence I still have it. Have not regretted throwing anything away in a long while.
    I would rather see Windowshade put back in the OS (System 8) so I would not have to buy it from the good folks at Unsanity anymore.

  16. Constable Odo

    Strip out all that useless junk from Snow Leopard. Make it less featured, much faster and completely stable. As for “Put Back”, don’t be randomly throwing documents into the trash can without thinking. Next thing you’ll be asking for is a “Trash Can Lock” so you can’t throw any documents away or maybe two or three screens asking “Do you really want to throw this item in the Trash Can?” For those that don’t know about it, you CAN lock your folders and documents so they can’t be trashed.

  17. just a dad

    As a dad I really missed the put back feature in OS X recently, when our kids placed a few items in the trash can. It would seem easy to put things away, but many items such as pictures were in subfolders by date or event. I could not believe it was not there.

  18. “Put away” has been part of the Finder for pretty much ever. All it does is put an accidentally trashed file back where it came. It’s not complicated.

    “If you quit making so many mistakes”

    It’s nice that you’re so perfect you don’t need the feature, but the rest of us are mere mortals.

  19. David Blain

    Well honestly, how many choices do you really have to make to put it away? Its probably going to come down to “Documents”, “Photos” or “Applications”. Kind of reminds me of clamoring for a bigger eraser for your pencil. If you quit making so many mistakes (tossing wanted items), you don’t need more eraser.