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Tuesday, November 21, 2006, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

QuickLook feature, Dashboard tweaks in latest Leopard builds

Developers exploring the latest pre-release builds of Apple Computer's next-generation Leopard operating system have recently discovered a handful of changes and enhancements not apparent in the company's online preview.

QuickLook (Screenshots 1, 2)

For instance, Leopard's Finder includes a new contextual menu item called "QuickLook," which will display an enlarged preview of image files in a semi-translucent Finder window (similar to slideshow mode) without first having to launch the "Preview" app.

At the base of the QuickLook window are two options, one to expand the image to full size and another to add the file to an iPhoto library.

Time Machine (Screenshot 3)

Leopard will also recognize the first time a new external hard disk drive is connected to a Mac. A system dialog then appears, asking the user if they'd like the enable the drive for use with Leopard's built-in file backup software called Time Machine.

Dashboard Web Clip enhancements (Screenshot 4)

Developers testing the latest build of Leopard, 9A303, have also spotted some improvements to Dashboard Web Clip in Safari 3, a feature that allows users to turn any portion of a web page into a custom Dashboard widget.

Under the initial preview release of Leopard, an "Open in Dashboard" button in Safari would created new widget containing the frontmost web site, which users could then crop and manipulate.

In the latest builds, Apple has taken the feature a bit further by allowing users to select portions of websites which they would like to turn into widgets directly from within Safari. Users simply use a marquee tool to select the portion of a website they'd like as a widget and then click an "Add" button.

Spaces interface tweak (Screenshot 5)

Lastly, developers point out subtle and ongoing interface tweaks to the floating Spaces palette in the Leopard Finder. The latest version features a gloss black finish, similar to the icon Apple developed to represent the workspace management component.

Apple last updated its pre-release distribution of Leopard earlier this month when it seeded build 9A303 to correct a number of stability issues.