Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar integrates some interesting technologies from Apple, but that may not be the most compelling reason for users to want this upgrade. Apple’s own Mac OS X applications have enough changes to give users reason to stop and take notice of this latest update.
One of the most interesting technologies to come out of Apple’s Cupertino headquarters in the past year is Rendezvous, a zero configuration networking standard. Rendezvous will recognize peripherals such as printers on your local network with no configuration needed from the end user. However, people upgrading to Jaguar won’t see the real benefits of Rendezvous until third-party manufacturers release devices enabled for the technology.
What users will notice about Jaguar are the enhancements made to its existing applications, which not only add functionality, but also speed in launching and using them. It is these enhancements most people will find appealing when using Jaguar.
Startup and the Finder
The Jaguar installation CD gives users a choice of installing over an existing Mac OS X system; Archive and Install, which will save all of your personal documents and preferences with the new Jaguar system; and Erase and Install. I have used all three methods with no problems to report on any of them. As a rule when upgrading to a new operating system, I always backup my files and do a completely fresh install.
The “Happy Mac” that users have become accustomed to seeing at startup has been replaced by a light grey screen with a dark grey Apple logo in the center. Mac OS X 10.2 starts with a speed that will give you a good idea of what’s to come when you reach the Finder.
The rewritten Finder sports zooming windows and a much more appealing Aqua interface. The Aqua buttons have been trimmed in size and have lost their candy-like appearance, making for a much more enjoyable user experience.
The toolbar in Finder windows has a search box that you can quickly enter in words and bring up any matches in the filename of that folder. Users still have the option to start typing the name of a file and the Mac OS will skip through files until it finds a match. I find the search box works much better, giving you more options on the files you can choose.
Jaguar also sees the return of Spring Loaded Folders, a feature many people used in Mac OS 9 and missed when upgrading to Mac OS X. The Spring Loaded Folders not only work by dragging files onto the folders themselves, but also by dragging files onto the toolbar icons in the Finder windows. Spring Loaded Folders will also work in any of the three Finder views available to the user.
Apple’s Mail application has matured the most in Mac OS X 10.2. The original Mail application was lacking in many of the features that people have become accustomed to using in Microsoft Entourage or many of the other mail applications available on the market today.
In addition to integrating support for iChat and Apple’s Address Book, Mail has added the best junk mail filter I’ve come across yet. By default the junk mail filter is listed as being in “Training,” where all mail, including the junk mail, goes into the folders that a user specifies. All junk mail is marked with brown text, so it is easily recognizable to the user.
In training mode, if an e-mail is mistakenly listed as junk, you simply click the “Not Junk” button on the e-mail and Mail will change the message status. In my experience, it takes a couple of times doing this to train mail that this is not junk mail. Of course, the opposite is true too, if a message comes in that is junk, you click the “Junk” button (which I have placed in my toolbar), and the message status changes, along with the message color.
While Apple says to train your Junk Mail filter for a couple of weeks, I was satisfied after three days that it was doing the job. If you highlight all of your mailboxes and then in the Mail menu change Junk mail from “Training” to “Automatic,” Mail will automatically place all e-mails marked as Junk in a new Junk mailbox. It is important to make sure all mailboxes are selected during this process — if you have just one mailbox highlighted, Mail will only move the junk mail from that one folder.
From this point forward, all junk mail will go into the new junk folder. Of course, the option to mark mail as junk or not junk is still available to you. At this point, if you mark an e-mail as junk it will automatically go into the Junk mailbox. However, if you mark a junk mail as not junk, you will need to manually run any rules you have setup to put the mail in its proper place.
If you use Entourage or any other contact manager that supports vcards, the transition to Apple’s Address Book application will be easy. I made a folder on my Desktop, highlighted all of my contacts in Entourage and put them in the new folder. Opening Address Book, I selected all of the contacts in my folder and put them on the Address Book window and it imported everything for me.
While I think Mail has come a long way, there’s still one thing that bothers me about it. If Mail has problems checking an account, it will stop checking that account until you restart the application. I would like the application to keep checking the account until I disable it the way Entourage does.
A new and improved Sherlock
Users of previous versions of Sherlock won’t recognize the latest form of the search utility from Apple. Sherlock has undergone a complete redesign, as well as the addition of much needed functionality.
While older versions of Sherlock would search a hard drive for files and give users the ability to search the Internet, it was fairly basic in its implementation. Sherlock 3.5, the version included with Jaguar, sheds local file searching and adds many specialized channels for online searching.
With Jaguar, local file searching returns to the Finder. Using the Find command (Command+F) brings up a search dialog box enabling users to search their Home directory, local disks, specific places or everywhere. You can search by file name or file content and add search criteria as need.
The Sherlock application includes channels for searching Web sites that include: Internet; Pictures; Stocks; Movies; Yellow Pages; eBay; Flights; Dictionary; Translation; and AppleCare.
Internet chat has been around the Internet in one form or another for many years. While the technology and fascination has caught on with many of my friends and co-workers, it’s never been something I’ve been particularly interested in.
I decided to give Apple’s AIM compatible iChat a try and had no problem finding people to chat with using my AIM name that I signed up for or my Mac.com e-mail address. I use my AIM name for the most part, because some people haven’t updated their AOL software to the newest version supporting Mac.com usernames.
Apple made iChat an easy to use and easy to configure application — minutes after entering my screen name and sending out a few e-mails looking for others I was online chatting away with friends.
I did find an annoying little bug in iChat when trying to sync a name in my buddy list to an entry in my Address Book. iChat lists users name by their Mac.com address or their AIM buddy name, or you can show their real name by choosing their card from your Address Book.
When you click to get more information on a particular buddy, you are brought to a screen where you can add information manually or choose an Address Card. If you choose the card, iChat gives you a list of all available contacts; even if you click on a card, the button to choose the card remains grayed out. Double-clicking the card does enter the information for the selected contact but also brings up the error below.
This only happens when the persons AIM name is not in the address book — if their AIM name is already in the address book and you click their card, you will not get error.
Software Base Station returns
Apple’s System Preferences have come a long way in user configurable options in the last year. On the surface, it looks basically like the system preferences panels we’ve used for some time now, but a look into several panels shows some big changes.
Of particular note for many users is the return of Apple’s Software Base Station, a feature Mac users were disappointed and angry to see left out when Mac OS X was first released.
The Software Base Station — now called Internet Sharing — requires no configuration by the user. Simply click the Start button and you share your connection. I turned on Internet Sharing using my DSL connection and my other system immediately picked up an IP address — I was surfing the Web immediately.
The Sharing system preferences also sees some other changes in networking in Jaguar. Under the Services Tab, users have the option to turn on Personal File Sharing; Windows File Sharing; Personal Web Sharing; Remote Login; FTP Access; Remote Apple Events; and Printer Sharing.
Adding a GUI interface to its built-in Firewall, Apple now allows users to turn on Firewall protection to prevent incoming communication to all services except those you select in the Services Tab.
The Internet preference panel now features an iDisk tab that keeps track of your iDisk space and shows you how much you have left. Additionally you can change the access privileges for your Public folder and add a password if you like.
Applications all working so far
So far all of the third-party applications that I use on a daily basis work without any major problems. Photoshop 7 and Image Ready; BBEdit; Fetch; Internet Explorer; and Chimera have had no problems at all.
The one exception to this is Microsoft Word — it seems to crash often when I try to save a document. The document does save, but does so without an icon — launching the file starts Word, most of the time, and then I save it again and everything works fine.
For US$129, you can update to Jaguar this weekend, but is it worth the money? From what I’ve seen Jaguar is leaps and bounds ahead of Mac OS X 10.1 in both speed and functionality.
If you are going to upgrade so you can use cool technologies like Rendezvous, then you will be disappointed until more third-party vendors jump on Apple’s bandwagon. If you want a faster Finder with updated Apple applications, new applications like iChat and integration between apps and technologies, then you will be very pleased with what Jaguar has to offer.