Upgrade to Mac OS X Snow Leopard: Initial Impressions

This morning, before heading into work, I ran by the Apple Store to pick up a few copies of Snow Leopard. For most of the morning, I alternated Macs while upgrading one of them, and this post will provide some initial reactions / thoughts on running Snow Leopard.

The upgrade went smoothly—took about 1 hour on my new Macbook Pro 13.3", and about 1.5 hours on an older Core Duo Macbook Pro. No real hiccups, but I have to say I was disappointed that Apple didn't make a new 'Welcome' video. It's the same one as they had for 10.5 :-(

On the first startup, the Setup Assistant displayed the welcome video, then simply said "Thanks for installing 10.6" (I did the upgrade install instead of a Clean install, FYI), and I went about my normal routine. The screen gamma was changed to OSX's new default, 2.2, which is a bit more contrasty... but I simply recalibrated with my Spyder color calibrator and colors were back to my preference.

Exchange Support

Apple's built-in support for Microsoft Exchange is the main reason I went as soon as possible to pick up my copy of Snow Leopard. Immediately after installing, I started playing around with the settings. The biggest question I had was how to set up multiple personal calendars (through MobileMe) concurrently with multiple Exchange calendars (a task impossible to accomplish on the iPhone).

Mail Exchange Server 2007 Setup Options Pane


The first time I opened Mail, it had to update the Mail database (no surprises there), then I went into preferences to add a new account. I simply selected "Exchange 2007" from the Account type dropdown menu while setting up the account, then entered the pertinent information.

There are two checkboxes below the email setup form that say "Also set up: Address book contacts / iCal calendars," making the whole process pretty painless.

However, when I clicked Continue, Mail informed me our Exchange 2007 server was not running "Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 or later," so I will have to wait before posting any more impressions of Exchange setup :-(


Impressions of running multiple shared calendars and setting up appointments, etc. through Exchange will be posted here when the server is upgraded...

On Ditching Entourage

In my opinion, Microsoft Entourage is one of the worst Mac apps ever made. Bar none. The app is slow, doesn't follow common OSX UI guidelines (especially keyboard shortcuts), has so many broken/fewer options compared to Outlook for the PC, and looks like it came straight from 2001, with all it's 'cute bubbly icons.' I will be extremely happy the moment I can switch to using Mail/iCal/Address Book instead of the piece of junk software known as Entourage.

Surface Changes

Snow Leopard doesn't really look much different than 10.5; most of the changes are 'under the hood,' so to speak. However, I hate the new QuickTime X player layout; horrible for watching smaller videos, and the video windows look like they have rendering bugs, since it's just a big black box sitting on your screen (but that's how Apple intends it to look—blech!).

Some icons in System Preferences have been refined/changed, but nothing to write home about.

Software Incompatibilities

I run Adobe's CS3 and CS4 on different Macs, so I'll be looking to see if anything's broken in CS3.

[Update 1: After running Photoshop CS3 for a few small graphic things, nothing seems to be troublesome. Runs great as far as I can tell. I don't use Dreamweaver CS3 too much, but I'll post more if I find anything about either Dreamweaver or Illustrator CS3.]

Also, I hear VMWare Fusion 2.0.4 has some problems with Snow Leopard... but I haven't used it yet. Will update when I have used it enough to see any problems with it.

Other Observations

  • Clicking on certain System Preference panes (ones for 3rd party utilities/hardware) causes System Preferences to relaunch into 32-bit mode, but this quirky behavior should go away as developers update their software.
  • Finder has a few new widgets here and there, and the most whiz-bang features is in-icon previews of videos, audio files, images, etc. Think of it as Quick Look on steroids. I love it!
  • Clicking on the little pill in the top right of Finder windows makes for a much smoother experience than it used to be, in terms of transitioning to a small, no-frills window.
  • Clicking and holding on an App's icon in the dock brings up Exposé for that app alone—nice.
  • Haven't played around with Exposé on multiple monitors yet (will do later today)... I hear there's some changes that might not be extremely awesome there.
  • Screen Shots (Shift-Command-4 or Shift-Command-3) are now named "Screen Shot <date>.png" instead of "Picture 1.png" - more logical, but threw me for a loop the first time it happened!
  • The AirPort menu icon animates when it's searching for a network. Kinda odd, but I can get used to it.
  • Safari is snappier™


The next version of Office for OSX will have a Mac version of Outlook. Though who knows what that will be like.

@ Jeffrey L Miller - yeah I've heard about that... I'm wondering if it will be too little too late. It could actually work, though, if Outlook is as full-featured as Outlook on the PC; Entourage was such a pain to use and had so many fewer features than it's PC counterpart that it was an epic fail in my book.

I have not had many issues with CS3 apps or anything. My biggest pain has been old AppleTalk/Ethernet printers. I have some old LaserWriters that have been spewing out black and white prints for ten years or more without fail. Leave it to Apple to decide that everyone should buy a new printer because they will no longer be supported via software.

Right now, I'm sharing them through another machine on my network, but after a week and several hours on the phone with Apple and their legacy group, still can't print directly via IPP or anything else. Beware of this small caveat. Found precious little in my research before upgrading, but there's a lot online now about printing.

Upgraded to OS X 10.6 (and now 10.6.1) to cure several OS issues I was having. Fixed two, still have one and now I'm trying to print to ten year old LaserWriters and interfacing via the old Apple Printer Utility running on a System 9.2 machine downstairs. Glad I didn't chuck that old PM G3 just yet.

In a way, though, that's a testament to the greatness of Apple's products as well; I too have a functional LaserWriter II (and a IInt!), but they have finally reached the end of their useful lives, since they're not supported anymore. On PCs, it's difficult to find drivers/cables for old parallel and serial printers, but the funny thing is, so few of them work that they're not worth using.

That a printer like the LaserWriter still works today (as well as an old Blue and White G3) means Apple's doing something right, at least :-)