First Look: Leopard preview: What's new in OS X 10.5

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What it is: As with the Desktop, calling the Finder “new” is another way to say “a new look and a few new features.” Nevertheless, Leopard’s Finder undergoes some significant changes from OS X 10.4.

What’s new: First and foremost, Leopard includes a remodeled Finder sidebar that looks a lot more like what you already see in the iTunes 7 Source list. The sidebar now groups items together by Devices (hard drives, CDs, DVDs), Shared (network volumes and computers), Places (folders and files on your hard drive), and Search For. As suggested by the Shared header, Leopard places an emphasis on improved connectivity features for Macs on your network as well as other Macs you own. The Shared header in the sidebar shows any computer on your network—including Windows-based PCs—that are sharing files as well as any Mac with screen-sharing enabled. Another feature, Back to My Mac, lets .Mac subscribers connect more easily with remote Macs to share files or even control screens.

Probably the most eye-catching change to the Finder is another iTunes 7-inspired addition: a new Cover Flow view to go alongside the existing List, Icon, and Column views. The Cover Flow view shows a live preview of each file’s contents; click on the preview for a PDF, for example, and you’ll be able to flip through its pages right there in the Finder.

Cover Flow view in Finder

Leopard will also see changes to the built-in Spotlight search technology. While those enhancements appear to be little changed from what Apple first previewed in August 2006, it’s worth reviewing those changes here. Namely, Spotlight now supports boolean logic, letting you refine searches with terms like “and,” “or,” and “not”—you can also search for exact phrases, date ranges, absolute dates, and simple calculations. Applications are the first matches returned in a Spotlight search, giving the feature more launcher-like capabilities.

The Search For header in the Finder sidebar comes pre-populated with several default searches as well as recently saved Spotlight searches. Also, Leopard’s Spotlight will be able to search other local Macs and remote servers, although we’re not sure whether these other computers will need to run Spotlight as well.

As with the Desktop enhancements, we list the changes to the Finder in greater detail in our Desktop and Finder preview.—JASON SNELL AND PHILIP MICHAELS

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