Panther by the Numbers

Trying to add up the new features and enhancements you'll find in Panther? Prepare for a long count. For every feature Apple has highlighted since it unveiled OS X 10.3 this summer, there are even more additions and improvements that have escaped much attention.

Now that Apple has unleashed Panther, we've gotten a firsthand look at the changes in the latest version of OS X. Apple claims that OS X 10.3 includes more than 150 new features and innovations. We haven't found that many--but then again, we're still counting. We've already told you about some of Panther's most conspicuous changes, such as Exposé, Fast User Switching, and Font Book (see " Take a Peek at Panther, " September 2003). Here are some of our favorite hidden gems, as well as a collection of tips that will help you get the most out of this major update.

New Features

1. Universal Security The new Security preference pane puts all of Panther's security features in one place. From here, you can set up your Mac to require a password when it wakes from sleep or a screen saver. This pane also lets you disable automatic login of users, password-protect your system settings, and enable automatic logging out after a set duration with no activity. Unfortunately, there's no option for automatically locking Keychain--for that, you have to use the Change Settings For Keychain command in the Keychain Access utility.

2. DVD Player's Big Step Apple's DVD Player application jumps forward in Panther. DVD Player 4.0 features built-in support for 5.1 surround-sound audio tracks. It can also display closed-captioning information in a separate window, which you can move away from your video. Plus, DVD Player now supports full-screen presentation modes on Macs with multiple monitors, and it lets you bookmark spots on your DVDs for quick reference.

3. iDisk Anywhere.Mac members have access to at least 100MB of storage space on Apple's servers. This can be a useful place to stash files, especially if you're moving from one computer to another. However, before Panther, you had to remember to mount your iDisk and copy files before you unplugged and headed out for parts unknown. With Panther, you can permanently integrate iDisk into your Mac. In the new .Mac preference pane, select Create A Local Copy Of Your iDisk. Panther will do just that--it places your iDisk on your Mac's hard drive. If you set OS X 10.3 to synchronize automatically, it'll upload any changes you make to the local copy of your iDisk. If you're not connected to the Internet, Panther will synchronize the changes the next time you connect. You can also synchronize manually--a useful option if you have a slow Internet connection.

4. Your Disk Keeps a Journal A new feature in Panther (it was previously only in Mac OS X Server) is journaling. When your hard drive is journaled, the operating system keeps a log of every modification made to the disk. So if your Mac crashes or the power goes out, your Mac knows exactly where it was when things went south, and it will start up much faster following a system crash than it otherwise would. Journaling is on by default. To enable journaling on other drives, open Disk Utility and choose Enable Journaling, or select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) when you format a drive.

Returning Favorites

5. Disk Utility Megamerger In previous versions of OS X, the Disk Utility application was an unassuming program for formatting and partition- ing drives. It still does all that, but it has also assumed the responsibilities of the eliminated Disk Copy and Software Restore utilities. If you want to create or burn a disk image, or restore your hard drive with the contents of a disk image, Disk Utility is now the place to go.

6. Return of Desktop Printers An OS 9 feature reappearing in Panther is desktop printing. When you use OS X 10.3's Printer Setup utility--formerly Print Center--to add a new printer, you create a tiny application for that printer in your user folder's Library: Printers folder. You can make aliases of as many printers as you like and place them on your desktop, or just drag them into the Dock. If you drag PDF files onto a printer icon, they'll print to that printer. Other documents will automatically open in the appropriate application and prompt you with a Print dialog box.

7. Check,Mate Don't play chess? Then you won't care that Apple's included Chess game, now at version 2.0, features improvements such as a rotating board and new options that let you change the look of the board and the pieces.

Feature No. 2 Panther's remodeled DVD Player puts closed-captioning text in a separate window.Feature No. 7 Chess sports a new look--which you can change.
recommended for you

Mac OS X Hints

Read more »

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter

Comments