Apple’s latest Mac operating system, Leopard, has, we are told, over 300 new features. Many of these are minor, but in this part of my Leopard review I’ll concentrate on three of the big ones: Quick Look, Time Machine, and Spaces.
One of the nicest new features for me is Quick Look. Select any file in a Finder window, press the spacebar, and you’re instantly previewing the file in Quick Look. “Quick” is the operative word here; whereas it might take you 10-20 seconds to fire up Microsoft Word or NeoOffice to view a .doc file, with Quick Look you’re viewing it within 1 second of hitting the spacebar.
Exactly how the preview looks depends on the type of file:
- Text files – whether that’s Word documents, PDFs, or plain text – open with a viewer that lets you scroll up and down through the whole document.
- When previewing images, you get an Add to iPhoto button to add the displayed image to your iPhoto library.
- An audio or movie file opens with a play/pause button and a scrubber control for jumping around within the content.
- Font files display the entire alphabet rendered in the font
… and so on. In all cases, you can click a button to view the file in full-screen mode and, if you Quick Look multiple files at once, you can view a contact sheet of thumbnails to choose from (this, combined with the full-screen mode, looks great with photos!).
Quick Look uses plug-ins to work its magic; each file type needs an associated plug-in to be rendered in Quick Look. Naturally, Leopard ships with plug-ins for most common file types, and app developers are adding more all the time.
This is a wonderful way to quickly double-check that you’ve found the file you’re after, without having to launch an application. It’s a real time-saver. I just have to train myself to use it – currently I still instinctively want to double-click a file to open it. (more…)