Blog Post

Does Mom Need Snow Leopard?


Naturally, as a contributor to this blog, I purchased a Snow Leopard family pack the first possible day. Some people may have pre-ordered on Amazon (s amzn), but they missed out on the in-store experience. My mother lives close to an Apple (s aapl) store, so I decided to stop by and upgrade my Macbook Pro while catching up with her.

Soon after arriving she asked, “Do I need that?”


I honestly had no idea what to say. Sure it’s a cheap and quick upgrade, but does she really need Snow Leopard on the 20 inch iMac she bought last year? Her entire computer life at home revolves around Safari, Mail, and Microsoft (s msft) Word. She networks, reads, and writes. I, however, consider myself an über power user: Netbeans, Adobe CS3, and tinkerer extraordinaire. I can’t refuse an OS upgrade.

Let’s take a look at Apple’s Snow Leopard page.


The only item I see here that is actually appealing to my mother is “faster.” One can never say no to speed in the computer world. The rest sounds like under the hood features. Fortunately, the UI changes in Snow Leopard are miniscule enough to not terrify the average Mac user. I guess it’s safe to upgrade her. After all, the Apple coolness factor always entertains.

What about all of you? Planning on upgrading your parents’ computers?

32 Responses to “Does Mom Need Snow Leopard?”

    • Oh, so that explains everything! Thanks for clearing that up.

      The question is, are you his tech support? I realize that you can’t exactly say to your father, “Dad, unless you get a Mac you can handle your own tech support.”

  1. My mom is on my old iBook 1.25Ghz, sosadly no Snow Leopard for her. But my sister is on a MacBook so I think I’ll give it to her as a “back to school” present.

    We are 3 intel Macs at home so I’ll get the family pack tomorrow:)

  2. elgarak

    The fact that Snow Leopard will stop the question “Why does my 400GB hard drive only has….?” dead in its tracks is reason enough for me to recommend it to less technically inclined people…

  3. If your mother uses a Time Capsule to back up her computer, then it’s a definite yes. They sped up Time Machine backing up to a Time Capsule significantly. Similarly if she uses Exposé, then it’s also a big YES. Check out how Exposé works on Snow Leopard (and make sure to hit the space bar when hovering over an Exposé window!). And even if neither of those apply, I still recommend it. Snow Leopard is faster than Leopard and everything just plain works better. Even now quits more reliably!

  4. “an über power user” ? I _am_ German and “über” is the German word for “over”, but that does that mean is this contect? ultra power pro user? :P funny. I thought that making umlauts on an English keyboard isn’t trivial :D anyway: nice story.

  5. Well, I did mine and had to talk my mother thru her upgrade on her Intel-based Mac mini. She and I both made it through ok. The fun part will be talking my 85 year old grandfather, who has poor eyesight. Always an experience.

  6. I am going to upgrade my macbook simply for the ms exchange2007 support. Should I go ahead and upgrade the wife’s imac as well? Any thoughts on running 10.5.8 on one and 10.6 on the other.

  7. Lucas Arruda

    I think this question is more simple than it looks like.

    From the point of view of funcionality, she does not need. But, thats only thing that counts? No.

    The simple answer: If it`s a hardware limit, of course it doesn`t suit her, but if not, yes upgrade it.

    Why? Mostly security, but also speed and minor things that also count a lot like speed, usability, stability. So, if you can and is doesn`t causes you headaches, update it. Otherwise, don`t bother because it will still suit them.

  8. Adam Jackson

    Short answer: no.

    At the same time, did I need to have the new dual-band airport extreme. Did I need MobileMe? Did I need the iPhone 3GS.

    These days, most Apple upgrades are “nice to have” and that’s how it’s been for a while now.

    Parents could probably still be using an eMac 1.25Ghz w/ Panther and be just fine.

  9. If there’s one thing mom’s need in a computer, it’s stability and ease of use. Snow Leopard (…perhaps 10.6.1) can only be a good thing. For peace of mind, if nothing else.

  10. Ummm…I hate to bring this up, but aren’t you violating the Family Pack license by installing on your Mom’s machine who, presumably, doesn’t live under the same roof?

  11. ryemac3

    My wife was in the same boat too. I use a Mac Pro and I am a power, power, power user. She has a Mac mini that she uses to pay bills online, look at pictures of the kids, and surf the internet. She doesn’t even use it for email, because she does that on her iPhone. I bought her the Mac mini a month or two ago because she said she wanted a machine that she could use at home in case she needed to catch up on paperwork for work.

    So, does she need Snow Leopard? No, but I gave it to her anyway, and here’s why:

    Because the Mac mini is no speed demon to begin with, it needs all the help it can get. She still has a stock 120G drive in there that’s filling up fast with the kids pictures.
    She had 41 Gigs left before Snow Leopard, now she has a little over 50. I know that’s partly due to the number game they are playing with file sizes now, but a gain of 10 Gigs is a gain of 10 Gigs.

    I also wanted it to have the same user experience as my Mac Pro just in case I happen to hop on there. I want Expose and Stacks to wok in the way that they work on mine. I wanted her to have the new Safari 4 enhancements. I think that it’s just better that all the computers in the house have a unified look and feel.

    And trust me, as soon as I can, I’ll be putting it on my MSi Wind too.

  12. Lots of good answers.

    But the real question: Did David stop to see his mom to “Catch up” as he reported? Or was he too desperate to install to go all the way home first?

    My 74 year old neighbor dropped by just as the installer was finishing up. He stayed for almost two hours. I don’t think he saw the tears.

  13. I suppose that eventually I will, but not yet. After upgrading on Friday, I discovered that most of the programs I use on a daily basis don’t work yet. I was able to get somethings up and running by recompiling from source, but not all of them. And the versions that I did get running aren’t necessarily all that stable.

    While my parents probably don’t care about the state of Qt, or PyQt, or Cyberduck (or even Growl for that matter); I think that Snow Leopard was a much more significant upgrade than anyone is letting on. For example, in addition to the new Finder, it looks like Expose has been completely reimplemented using Core animation. And there are enough differences in the way the dock responds, that I wonder if it got massively overhauled as well (it just isn’t as smooth as the 10.5 version).

    As the poster above mentioned. I’ll probably upgrade the family around 10.6.2 or so. I’m personally thinking about downgrading. I now know how new users of Vista must have felt after discovering their software wasn’t compatible with the Microsoft OS.

  14. I regret not getting my parents a Mac when we got their last computer. Now I have to deal with upgrading them from Vista to 7. Yes, I wish I had the choice to upgrade their computer to Snow Leopard, I would be doing theirs right along with mine… Hindsight is 20/20 sigh…

    • That would be why on one day when I was seriously fed up with their stupid-piece-of-crap PC (days before Christmas, mind you) that I trekked out to the Apple Store (traffic was miserable, and King of Prussia was so crowded) and purchased them an iMac with my own money.

  15. Charles Barilleaux

    My non-techy siblings have asked. I answered “yes” prior to release, and would do so more enthusiastically after a weekend of using it. Why?

    1. General goodness of having the machines I “support” match what I use.
    2. I’m making the bold assumption that any security or bug fixes in 10.5.0-10.5.8 made their way into Snow Leopard. I know that’s not exactly true, but but I definitely expect that it would at least catch them up a fair bit. For $30, it’s an easy way to catch up.
    3. It seems to run smoother/faster than Leopard.
    4. Ensure they have not “gotchas” around some future software.

    To be honest, there is no “ah-ha!” feature that would compel an upgrade. Leopard had Time Machine, which was nice.

    There is one reason I can see it, though, being far from my family from them makes it a hard case. I believe that personal computers (not PC, but a computer owned an operated by an individual (as opposed to a server)) benefit from being rebuilt ever 18-or-so months. After loading and unloading software, making tweaks that “you’ll put back,” improper shutdowns, etc, a clean slate. A new OS is a good excuse for that, and I know at least one Mac in my family that would benefit from that.

  16. Catmanrog

    I AM that parent and I LOVE this Snow Leopard upgrade. I’ve used Macs since Lisa was a small girl and this latest makes my 17″ MBP with matte screen (easy on the eyes) work amazingly smoothly. Thanks for asking…. :-)

  17. My parents computer is a first gen G4 imac. 700mhz of raw G4 power. so no. I haven’t even gotten them to leopard yet. Tiger is as far as we can go. I keep trying to talk them into buying a new computer but it just isn’t going to happen.

    • However I did tell my friend on getting a new 13 inch macbook pro, which is total overkill for her needs. And I also convinced her to cough up $10 for the snow leopard upgrade. She doesn’t know why she has to install it, but it’ll be good if she ever installs next gen applications. Plus she’s trying to be a librarian and I imagine the exchange support will help her out eventually…