Apple modified iCal quite a bit for the Leopard release. Many of the calendaring app’s new powers are covered on Apple’s OS X 10.5 features page—not to mention this Leopard preview article—but there’s at least one new feature not covered there. It’s a change in the iCal widget’s behavior.
In OS X 10.4, the iCal widget had two possible states. In its smallest (default) mode, it simply showed you the day and date. Click on the widget, though, and a full-month calendar would slide out, creating a second panel. In 10.5, there’s one additional—and much more useful—mode available. Click the widget a second time, and a third panel slides out, showing the current day’s events. If you leave the widget in this expanded state, a quick press of F12 will show you your current day’s events. Click on an event in the third panel, and the system will switch to iCal (and exit Dashboard mode). One limitation of this feature is that it won’t show any of your to dos, just your events.
If you like widget-based interfaces to your iCal calendars, you might find that iCal Events (covered in Mac Gems) and To Do work better than Apple’s built-in solution. The first shows your upcoming events (for a definable number of days) in a resizable window, and the second does the same for your to do lists.
There are, of course, many many other solutions for working with iCal’s data, both widget-based and standalone applications. Just remember that, if your needs are simple, 10.5 has a new three-click method of viewing events using the built-in iCal widget.