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Friday, May 29, 2009, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

A glimpse at Snow Leopard's more subtle refinements

While many of the changes present in betas of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard have been discussed at length by Apple followers, one tester has taken to the web with observations on some of the more subtle refinements spread through the most recent build of the next-gen operating system.

AppleInsider reader inewton1974 pointed us to an annotated Flickr album of nearly four dozen Snow Leopard screenshots he published a bit earlier in the week. He begins by noting that the software's setup assistant will now warn users if they don't supply a password hint and claims that QuickLook capabilities have been built into universal Open and Save dialog windows.

Another interesting discovery is Apple's use of transition effects within the new Cocoa-based Finder. In particular, the Clean Up command for tidying Finder windows reportedly "slides" icons into place instead of shifting them abruptly. This is described as a "a neat visual effect," and several others similar to it are likely to follow. The Finder also present an slider control for resizing icons in the lower right-hand corner of windows displayed in icon mode, as can be seen in the first screenshot below.

Additionally, it's noted that a QuickTime preference pane is absent from Snow Leopard, as are any preferences from within the QuickTime X Player itself, leading to renewed speculation that Apple may do away with its premium QuickTime Pro offering entirely. A series of screenshots with inewton1974's observations follows:

Snow Leopard


Updates to the Date & Time preference pane will let Snow Leopard users display the time and date (or day of the week) side-by-side in the Mac OS X menubar:

Snow Leopard


Time Zone preferences have also seen an overhaul. Each time zone is highlighted as a user moves their mouse cursor across the map. And as previously note, users will have the option to have their time zone updated automatically with help of Snow Leopard's new Core Location framework.

Snow Leopard


Users who prefer not to have their Mac's location identified via Core Location can switch the option off via the general security preferences. The same preference pane also introduce a handy new feature that will let users adjust the time interval between when their Mac goes to sleep (or activates a screen saver) and when their password will be required to regain access.

For instance, you could set your screen to dim after 10 minutes of inactivity but not lock down the system and require a password prompt for 45 minutes. In current versions of the Mac OS, there's no separation of these features.

Snow Leopard


iCal now has account preferences for adding Microsoft Exchange accounts, per Apple's plans to build support for the messaging software into Mac OS X as it has done on the iPhone.

Snow Leopard


Similarly, Address Book new Account preferences for syncing contacts with Exchange, Mobile Me, Yahoo and Google services.

Snow Leopard


Scanner Sharing appears to be a new option in Snow Leopard's Sharing preference pane:

Snow Leopard


If you don't have a mouse connected to your Mac and then launch the new Mouse preference pane, Snow Leopard will begin searching for a wireless one:

Snow Leopard


Below is a capture of QuickTime X Player's HUDless movie playback presentation:

Snow Leopard


The new Player software will also let users upload movie files to YouTube or their Mobile Me accounts:

Snow Leopard


Snow Leopard


The same software also provides both basic video and audio editing (trimming):

Snow Leopard


Snow Leopard


In Snow Leopard, Software Update's "Installed Updates" tab has been renamed "Installed Software," possibly foreshadowing a move by Apple to provide new software downloads via the built-in mechanism rather than just updates:

Snow Leopard


A handful of changes are also in store for Snow Leopards Preferences, namely a separation of the Keyboard & Mouse preferences, a relocation of Bluetooth preferences from "Hardware" to a new section called "Internet & Wireless," and a renaming of the "International" preferences to "Language & Text."

Snow Leopard


This new "Language and Text" preference pane paves the way for the previously reported global text substitution feature and setting individual input sources for each document that's open:

Snow Leopard


Snow Leopard


Split Terminal options also appear to be new:

Snow Leopard


Automator's welcome dialog has been re-tooled. Instead of picking the kind of task to perform as a template, users now choose what kind of workflow they want to make. An option to create a system "Service" also stands out:

Snow Leopard


Preview preferences have been overhauled:

Snow Leopard


Firewall preferences exist for automatically allowing signed software to receive incoming connections:

Snow Leopard


QuickLook video previews also work in Snow Leopard Get Info dialogs:

Snow Leopard


And finally, here's a screenshot showing a short list of applications included with the latest Snow Leopard distributions that have not seen the transition to 64-bit:

Snow Leopard