First Look: Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Although positioned as an under-the-hood upgrade to Leopard, Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard offers a lot of changes on the surfaces as well.

Under the hood, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard offers a 64-bit OS for faster processing and greater memory access, support for multicore processing via Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL, and faster Java and QuickTime performance.

Do note that Snow Leopard does away with two old Apple technologies. It no longer supports the long-waning AppleTalk network protocol, and it won't run on PowerPC-based Macs.

If you have PowerPC apps (such as the Microsoft Office Update utility), note they will run if you have Apple's Rosetta technology installed. If Snow Leopard does not install Rosetta automatically, you can install it using the Optional Packages installer on the Snow Leopard installation DVD. Let's take a look at some of the new features found in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

All new Dock Expose

The Exposé feature has been integrated into the Dock, so if you hold and click an app icon in the Dock, previews appear for each window, allowing you to switch among them and apply other options.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: The Dock's New Look

The Dock has a new look, with slicker menus. Common options are now in the Options submenu, making initial menus less cluttered.

Wi-Fi status always available

The AirPort status in the menu bar now shows the signal strength and security status of all available Wi-Fi networks. The Network system preference also shows these when you are choosing a Wi-Fi network.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: The Right Time Wherever You Are

Snow Leopard uses a Wi-Fi location database to determine where your Mac is, and it can set the date and time automatically based on the detected location. Likewise, iCal can be set to use the time zone where you happen to be, or it can stick with your "home" time zone.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Easy Flight Status Checking

Mac OS X uses a technology called Data Detectors to identify information in text and e-mails such as dates and addresses. The detectors then provide contextual menus to, for example, add an address to the Address Book. Snow Leopard expands the Data Detector capabilities to find flight codes, letting you then open the Flight Tracker widget to see the flight status.

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