My weekend with Leopard and CS3

I sat Friday with my copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, staring at the holographic box, and wondering if it was going to make a mess of my smooth-running Mac. Having upgraded to Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 on my Mac Pro earlier this year, everything was tuned and running perfectly, and I was in no hurry to mess that up. But having drunk the Apple Kool-Aid long ago, I was anxious to play with Apple’s new OS, so off I went.

Before upgrading, I cloned my entire internal hard drive to an external Firewire drive using SuperDuper!. Once I booted from the backup and was certain it was working properly, I knew that the worst thing that could happen was another two hours to restore the previous system to my internal drive if everything went haywire. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about it.

I decided to use the Archive and Install option for installing Leopard, rather than the Clean Install. I just didn’t have the energy to re-install CS3 and the dozens of shareware and freeware apps I had installed on my Mac Pro. So with the click of a button and a 45-minute wait, my Mac finally booted into Leopard. The first thing I noticed was that no dialog boxes popped-up telling me that this-that-and-the-other was incompatible. Everything worked. The only problem I had was having to reenter the serial number for Snapz Pro. At that point, I figure it was too good to be true. Something had to go wrong. I just did a major OS update and everything was working perfectly. That never happens.

Upon clicking the InDesign icon in my newly updated Dock, I held my breath. Before I could begin praying, InDesign launched … really fast. I mean easily twice as fast as under Tiger. I have a few plug-ins installed in InDesign, so I was at the very least expecting some minor hiccups, but everything went fine.

Photoshop launched quickly, as did Illustrator, Bridge, Dreamweaver, Flash, Contribute, and Fireworks. And all ran just as expected. According to Adobe, Acrobat Pro and their video apps are not fully compatible, but I’ve been using Acrobat since Friday afternoon with no issues.

You can also feel comfortable upgrading to Leopard if you’re using Extensis’ Suitcase Fusion. In the past, it seemed like every major OS update broke, or at the very least hindered, Suitcase. Not this time around. Suitcase runs perfectly fine with Leopard and Creative Suite 3.

I haven’t tested other font management programs like Linotype’s Font Explorer X or Insider’s Font Agent Pro, and neither of them have made a peep about Leopard compatibility.

Font Book activation

But if you’re not using a font manager right now, or you are and it’s not working to your liking, you should really consider taking another look at Apple’s built-in font manager, Font Book. Font Book now sports auto-activation system-wide (see the screen shot above), and, after a little testing, I’ve found that it works great with Creative Suite 3. Fonts quickly activated in my InDesign documents, and I didn’t even have to have Font Book open. It’s also much faster than earlier versions: I have over 2,000 fonts installed and it didn’t skip a beat.

no cover flow with CS3
So if you’re holding off on upgrading to Leopard because you rely on your Mac and Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 to earn a living, my experience would indicate that you have no worries. In fact, the only disappointment with regards to CS3 and Leopard is that the new Cover Flow and Quick Look features—which show a preview in the Finder of the document—doesn’t work with InDesign document (see image on the right). It also doesn’t work with Illustrator CS files, but I’ll take stability over those relatively minor issues any day.

[James Dempsey runs the Creative Guy blog, which offers tips, tricks and opinion on a variety of design and Mac OS X topics.]

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