Preview The newest version of Preview, OS X’s image and PDF viewer, adds a number of image- and PDF-manipulation tools. For example, you can reorganize PDF pages or merge multiple PDF documents. Preview also features improved annotation tools for commenting on documents. Of the program’s imaging tools, one of the most useful is an Adjust Size option that brings up a dialog box similar to what you’d find in Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. There you can adjust an image’s resolution, set dimensions in inches and pixels, and resample it to create a larger image—a feature I’d love to see iPhoto take advantage of.
The Extract Shape tools lets you paint a border around the edges of an object to select everything within, while the Instant Alpha tool selects masking areas based on tones, similar to Photoshop’s Magic Wand tool.—KELLY TURNER
Font Book At first glance, Leopard’s Font Book looks nearly identical to its Tiger counterpart. But Apple has made some significant changes to the OS X font manager that greatly enhance its utility.
Automatic font activation in Leopard enables fonts in documents on-the-fly.
While Font Book still cannot compete with the various third-party font managers on the platform, the improvements in Leopard—which include print functionality, language specification, auto activation, system font protection, and Braille support—will be welcome additions for many users. In addition, new WYSIWYG icons and instant Get Info previews are helpful because now you don’t have to launch Font Book to get a quick look at your fonts.
This upgrade approaches the printing functionality of some third-party programs by letting you print out previews of your fonts via the Print command. You get a nicely formatted sample of the font you selected in all of the available characters. It also makes it easy to identify and disable unwanted built-in foreign language fonts so they don’t show up in your font menus. And a new Braille font now works with the VoiceOver application to assist visually impaired Mac users.
Potentially the most useful new feature of Font Book is automatic font activation, which enables fonts in a particular document on-the-fly. Say you have a display font disabled, and someone sends you a document that requires it. Opening the document should automatically launch the font. In my tests, however, this feature was glitchy. It worked as expected with some fonts and some documents, but mysteriously, not with others.—JACKIE DOVE
Dictionary With Leopard, Apple has added a few simple—but notable—features that turn this basic dictionary into a more serious and practical reference tool.
To begin with, the menu items have been revamped and renamed. The History menu choice is gone. You can, however, navigate to Dictionary pages you’ve previously viewed via the back button in your toolbar. In this way—and in many others—the new Dictionary is more like using a browser than perusing a dictionary.
For example, nearly every word you see in Dictionary functions like a hyperlink; click on that word, and you’ll be taken to its dictionary entry. Also adding to the browser-like look is a bookmark bar, just as you would find in Safari. Each bookmark represents your different dictionaries; click on one, and you’ll exclude all of the others.
In addition to this new navigation scheme, you have more dictionary choices. A new Apple dictionary provides entries for computer-related terms, although it is extremely limited. Also included are a Japanese dictionary, a Japanese-English dictionary, and a Japanese Synonyms dictionary. It’s a safe bet that additional language dictionaries—and perhaps additional reference tools—will pop up in future updates to Dictionary.
While searching for just the right word, you can scour specific dictionaries according to your Preference settings, or you can search all of them at the same time to get a comprehensive page of results. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the ability to search the online, user-edited Wikipedia. You’ll need to have an Internet connection to use this feature, but all of your Wikipedia searches happens right in the Dictionary program, not your browser. This is very quick and handy, and it elegantly turns this simple dictionary program into an amateur encyclopedia.—ERIC SUESZ
DVD Player OS X’s DVD Player application has a pretty simple purpose—letting you watch DVDs on your Mac—but it has quite a few options and features that make it worth a look. Most of the changes in Leopard are interface-oriented, but there are some new features as well.
DVD Player 5.0 (the version in Leopard) adds and changes some of the familiar application menus. In Tiger, the menus were File, Edit, Video, Controls, Go, Window, and Help. Leopard changes things to File, Edit, Controls, Features, Go, View, Window, and Help.
DVD Player’s new time slider lets you scrub forward or backward with your mouse, allowing you to find the exact scene you want.
Within these menus are some changes as well. For example, the File menu’s Get Disc Info option adds more information about audio and media and adds a Parental Control tab; the Go menu adds Skip Back 5 Seconds and Skip Ahead 5 Seconds commands to DVD Player (as well as the keyboard shortcuts option-command-right arrow and option-command-left arrow, respectively, to control them). The View menu adds a Viewer Above Other Apps selection to keep your movie from being buried under windows; and the Controls menu adds a Slow Motion option as well as a place to set slow motion rate (1/2 speeds, 1/4 speed, or 1/8 speed). To start playing in slow motion, you choose Slow Motion from the Controls menu, and pressing the space bar returns the playback to normal speed.
Those who are used to DVD Player’s keyboard shortcuts for changing the size of the playback window will have a few changes to contend with. Previously found under the Video menu, Half Size used command-1, Normal Size used Command-2, Maximum Size used Command-3, and Enter Full Screen used Command-0. The new app puts these commands under the View menu, with Half Size using Command-0, Actual Size using Command-1, Double Size using Command-2, Fit To Screen using Command-3, and Enter Full Screen using Command-F. Although the commands have changed, users may recognize these same shortcuts from another Apple app—QuickTime Player. It makes sense for Apple to bring these commands for video playback in step with each other.
When you’re watching a DVD in all views other than full screen, pausing it brings up a progress slider, similar to the one in QuickTime or even iTunes. Adding a slider is a great idea, since it means you no longer have to just use chapters or the fast forward or rewind options to get where you’re going. It makes watching a DVD more like watching any other video within QuickTime.
In Full Screen mode, mousing to the bottom of the screen makes on-screen controls pop up just as the dock does. (Entering Full Screen also automatically removes the floating remote, which in Tiger required you to press the escape key or wait until it faded away on its own.) This dock includes some controls and Menu and Title buttons in a box on the left; volume, fast forward, rewind, play/pause, stop, previous chapter, next chapter, streams/closed captioning, player settings, eject disk, and exit full screen buttons in the middle; a toggling display of chapter info, elapsed time, and remaining time on the right; and a progress slider on the bottom. (This dock is similar to the Navigator in Tiger’s DVD player, but with some different information).
Mousing to the top of the screen, which brings up only the OS menu bar in Tiger, does that in Leopard; it adds the ability to display chapters, bookmarks, and video clips. Both pop-ups are very similar to those in iPhoto’s full screen editing mode.
Just like in Tiger, DVD Player lets you define bookmarks and video clips. Bookmarks lets you set your own chapter marks, while video clips lets you define and play back custom clips. The window still shows you previews, but in Leopard it has an updated look.
The video clip interface is much improved from Tiger. Instead of a sheet that drops down with a simple way to choose your clip, Leopard has a Video Clip window with current video, start video, and end video windows in it. You can scrub to your start and end points easily, and play and fast forward or rewind the current video as well as step back or forward one second for more precise scene selection (all without changing your start and end points).
The same window also adds a Chapters option with thumbnail previews, similar to what you get at the top of the screen during full screen playback (Tiger let you choose chapters, but without visual cues).
There are also a few changes in DVD Player’s preferences. In the High Definition tab, it removes the section on Hybrid Discs that was in Tiger; the Windows pane loses its Status And Navigation Windows area, and the Full Screen pane adds a Use Current Video Size In Full Screen option.—JONATHAN SEFF
Photo Booth In the newest version of Photo Book, you’re no longer limited to just taking photos—you can use your Mac’s built-in camera to record videos with sound. When you click on the camcorder icon, you can choose to use any of the visual effects available to photo users, including image distortion and colorization effects.
Like iChat, Photo Booth also now offers background effects which attempt to give the illusion that you are on a roller-coaster or in Paris. When you select one of these backgrounds, Photo Booth asks you to step out of the frame so it can see what's behind you. It then masks out this information, leaving just you and anything new that you bring into the scene. It’s a fun idea; however, it doesn't work flawlessly. The program often identified parts of my hair and clothing as background and masked them out.
Photo Booth ships with eight backgrounds. You can also drag your own images in to create new backgrounds. There’s also a multi-photo option that will take four photos in quick succession, giving you a true photo-booth experience.—KELLY TURNER
[ Jonathan Seff is senior news editor; Jim Dalrymple is online director; Kelly Turner is senior features editor; and Jackie Dove is senior reviews editor. Eric Suesz is associate reviews editor. ]