Last week’s much-anticipated release of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar hasn’t disappointed – Apple pulled out all the stops in improving and adding to Mac OS X. Despite the $130 upgrade cost, over 100,000 people purchased Jaguar in the first weekend it was available, a number Apple claims is a record for Mac OS sales in a single weekend (though it undoubtedly includes all the pre-orders placed up to that time as well).
We’ve all heard plenty about the major features of Jaguar so far – iChat, Rendezvous, the system-wide Address Book, etc. – so in this article, I’m instead going to take a quick spin through some of the less-noticeable features that have gladdened our jaded eyes here at TidBITS, plus a couple of installation tips that will save you headaches and disk space. I’m sure we’ll continue to discover similar bits about Jaguar; if this article proves popular, we’ll continue collecting them for a sequel.
Check Utilities Before Installing — A number of utilities, most notably those that modify system behavior, are not compatible with Jaguar. Be sure to check for updates to those utilities you consider essential before upgrading. This has been a public service announcement, brought to you by the same people who always nag you about backing up before installing a major operating system update.
Archive Install — At the Select Destination step in the Jaguar installer, the default button is Continue, which will put you on a path to upgrading an existing Mac OS X installation. However, reports from the Internet and our own experiences with random application crashes indicate that it’s worth the extra effort to do a clean installation, something that Apple has improved immensely since Mac OS 9. Click the Options button, and in the sheet that appears, you’re presented with three options: Upgrade Mac OS X (the default), Archive and Install, and Erase and Install. Choose Archive and Install, and click the Preserve Users and Network Settings checkbox below it. Then click OK and continue on with the installation. When the installer is done, you’ll have a Previous Systems folder at the top level of your hard disk, and inside that, a Previous System 1 folder that contains all the items the installer didn’t merge into the new installation. Check through that folder for items you don’t want to delete; it does a pretty good job, though it’s not perfect at retaining everything. On TidBITS Talk, Dan Frakes pointed us to an excellent article he wrote for Macworld about particular places to check for files to save. If you’re a Unix-head, be sure to inspect the Previous System 1 folder in the Terminal, since directories where you may have been keeping stuff, such as /usr/local, are present but invisible in the Finder. When you’re done, you can toss the Previous System 1 folder in the Trash; you can’t toast the enclosing Previous Systems folder without some fussing with privileges.
Save Disk Space with Custom Installs — Apple appears to be doing an excellent job with localizing Mac OS X and applications so people in at least some other countries can use the Mac in their own language. But is there any point in installing localized files if you don’t read those languages? Plus, Apple installs numerous printer drivers you likely don’t need. You can save a boatload of disk space by not installing all of these extras, but you have to pay attention, since Easy Install gives you everything, and it’s too easy to start the installation without realizing. In the Jaguar installer’s Installation Type step, click the Customize button, and deselect the appropriate checkboxes. One note: I failed to do this on my first installation (for a variety of testing purposes, I restored from my backup and reinstalled Jaguar – I strongly recommend a pre-Jaguar backup), and I couldn’t find a safe way to remove these items after the fact; a tip I found about deleting all the .lproj files via a complex Unix command looked as though it was going to delete far more than was safe.
Privilege Fixing Disk Utility in Installer — In the event of trouble, it’s always worth running the First Aid component of Apple’s Disk Utility. But it won’t check the startup disk, which can be annoying. Work around this by booting from the Jaguar installation CD (Install Disc 1 – yes, that’s right, Jaguar comes on two CDs, or three, if you count the Developer Tools). Choose Open Disk Utility from the Installer application menu at any point, and you’ll see that not only can you perform the usual tasks, but also that Disk Utility’s First Aid component can now verify and repair privileges (which it calls "disk permissions," a surprising lapse for Apple, which almost universally uses the term "privileges"). I suspect this code comes from Apple’s recently released Repair Privileges utility (now at version 1.1, in case you previously downloaded the 1.0 version). Interestingly, when I ran Verify Disk Permissions on my brand new Jaguar installation, it found two errors in folders I couldn’t have touched. (Two other notes about functions available in the installer: You can reset your password from the Installer application menu, if necessary, but the Terminal menu item was never available for me for unknown reasons.)
Adieu Happy Mac — As has been reported elsewhere, Jaguar replaces the 18-year-old happy Mac startup icon with a gray Apple logo. I’m not particularly surprised; as much as everyone was accustomed to the happy Mac, it didn’t fit in with the graphical look Apple has taken such pains to present with Mac OS X and new hardware. It’s not as though any Macintosh has even looked like the happy Mac for years, and the new look doesn’t presuppose any particular hardware design. Plus, Apple could easily change the color of the Apple logo in the future – I wonder why they didn’t fill it with rendered jaguar fur. The other question is if the sad Mac, whose presence announces the ominous news of hardware failure, is still around, or if it’s been replaced by a rotting Apple logo with a worm crawling out. Probably not.
Tired of Logging In? Many people have complained about having to provide their passwords to installers in Mac OS X. I’ll happily enter a password instead of being forced to reboot, as in Mac OS 9, but the frequent password prompts are annoying. Luckily, you can turn them into reminders by making your password blank. You can’t do this with the Change Password button in Jaguar’s new My Account preference pane (where it claims your password must be at least four characters long), but you can do it by editing your user in the Accounts preference pane (it used to be called Users). Once you’ve set your password to blank, you can dismiss password dialogs merely by pressing Return. Needless to say, a blank password is a huge gaping security hole with razor sharp edges, so consider yourself forewarned. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on a machine that’s always accessible from the Internet, and I’d reset a password on a laptop before leaving home in case it was stolen.
Energy Saver Returns — The options in the Mac OS X Energy Saver preference pane have never matched up to those in Mac OS 9’s Energy Saver control panel. But with Jaguar, much of that control is back, so you can set different options for when your PowerBook or iBook is running on battery power or is plugged into the power adapter, and there’s a checkbox that claims to reduce the processor speed. Four different presets give you canned choices for Highest Performance, Longest Battery Life, DVD Playback, and Presentations, the first two of which provide the same settings whether or not the laptop is plugged in. Personally, I’ll be setting my iBook to save power when using battery, and provide optimal performance when plugged in. It’s too soon to tell just how well this additional control will help increase the battery life of laptops on the road, but any improvement will be welcome. One addition I’d like to see – an option to lower the screen brightness automatically when using battery power, since my experience is that’s one of the major consumers of precious electricity.
Smooth Operator — Hidden away in Jaguar’s General preference pane is a new pop-up menu that lets you configure Mac OS X’s font smoothing style. It’s worth checking this out, since the default setting may not be ideal for your monitor (my iBook defaulted to "Standard – best for CRT" for instance), and everyone has different visual preferences.
FTP in the Finder: Keep Trying, Apple — Jaguar is growling at another class of software – FTP clients. That’s because you can now mount FTP servers as disks in the Finder, just like any other network volume. Just type a full FTP URL like the one below into the Connect to Server dialog (access it from the Go menu, or type Command-K) and click Connect. If a username and password are necessary, the Finder will prompt for them. Unfortunately, in our testing, Jaguar can only get read access to FTP servers, even if you add your userid and password to the FTP URL. Worse yet, several of us have managed to lock up Jaguar completely using this feature, so be careful. Finally, Jaguar’s Finder FTP client doesn’t appear to work at all with Peter Lewis’s elderly NetPresenz FTP server, which is undoubtedly still in wide use on older Mac servers. I’d recommend keeping your favorite FTP client around for a while.
In the Red with Force Quit — Two new tweaks related to forcing applications to quit have appeared with Jaguar. First off, if an application isn’t responding, it appears in red in the Force Quit Applications window (accessible from the Apple menu or by typing Command-Option-Escape). It’s a nice touch that simplifies identifying the application you want to quit. Second, if an application isn’t responding, Control-clicking its icon in the Dock presents a menu with Force Quit instead of Quit; previously, you had to hold down Option while clicking the Dock icon to get to the Force Quit menu item. One final tip that works in previous versions of Mac OS X as well: after you’ve forced an application to quit via the Force Quit Applications window, you can close the window quickly by pressing Escape – it’s easier than clicking the tiny close window control.
Classic Warning — Classic appears to work basically the same as it has in the past (though it will likely prompt you to let it update some items in your System Folder), with three notable changes. It launches faster, a new Memory/Versions tab in the Classic preference pane shows you the memory usage for each Classic application (plus background processes), and you can now set an option in the Classic preference pane to let you approve each launch. No more watching Classic load when you didn’t even mean to launch it. (Classic isn’t a serious CPU hog as long as there aren’t any Classic applications running, but if there are, it can eat a hefty percentage of your CPU cycles.) Another piggy application is Microsoft Word X, which munches CPU cycles whenever it has open documents, so if you’re not using a Word document, close it to make extra CPU cycles available to other applications. You can see what’s happening by using Jaguar’s improved Process Viewer utility, which now shows proper names for Carbon applications, thus eliminating the need to use the "top -u" command in the Terminal.
Window Layering Improved for Eudora — Possibly my favorite change in Jaguar is a fix for one of Mac OS X’s window layering problems. In Eudora, if you Command-click a URL, it opens in a new browser window in the background, a fabulous feature I use many times a day. Or rather, a feature I used to use, since a bug in Mac OS X resulted in a background window being drawn over all of Eudora’s windows, forcing me to switch processes manually to layer the windows properly again. In Jaguar, this feature of Eudora works correctly again. (If you’re reading this using Eudora and Command-clicking doesn’t open browser windows in the background for you, double-click the URL below and accept the prompt; otherwise, you can copy and paste the URL into a Eudora message, then double-click it. For more information on x-eudora-setting URLs and a full list of them for Eudora 5.1.1, send email to <[email protected]>.)
That said, Eudora can have problems downloading graphics in HTML messages when QuickTime 6 is installed, as it must be in Jaguar. If you experience crashes in Eudora while downloading graphics, turn off automatic downloading of HTML graphics in the Fonts & Display settings panel and resist the urge to download them manually. Qualcomm knows about the bug and is trying to fix it.
Just Find It! I’ve never been a fan of Sherlock. It provided a slow and clumsy interface for finding files, and I always found its channels harder to use than just going to the appropriate Web site or search engine. I’m reserving judgement on Sherlock 3, which is similar to the more-capable Watson, but the excellent news is that Jaguar gives us back the old Find utility for finding files. It’s simple, focused, and sprightly, plus it can have multiple results windows. Multiple criteria are available, and it can limit searches to Everywhere, Local disks, Home, and Specific places (which you can add by dragging folders in from the Finder). Find is available from the Finder’s File menu; you can also of course type Command-F to activate it.
I also like the new Search field in Finder window toolbars, which enables you to search the contents of the currently selected folder, and all its sub-folders. However, it only shows up as a field only if the toolbar is set to display either Icons & Text or just Icons – if you’ve set toolbars to show only Text, you get a Search button that launches the Find utility. To change the display style, select Customize Toolbar from the Finder’s View menu, and adjust the Show pop-up menu.
Sharing is Good — With Jaguar, Apple has significantly beefed up the Sharing preference pane, which previously let you start and stop file sharing, personal Web sharing, FTP access, remote login, and reception of remote Apple Events. All that is still available, but Apple has added Windows File Sharing (via SMB) and Printer Sharing for sharing all the printers your Mac can see. One tip: To share printers with Mac OS 9 machines, Apple claims you’ll need to use Printer Sharing under Classic – setting it up in Jaguar won’t work. Two other tabs in the Sharing preference pane let you configure Mac OS X’s built-in firewall and Internet sharing, better known by its previous name, Software Base Station. Both offer only basic configurations, but they should suffice for most people (and if you need more from your firewall, check out the $25 shareware Brickhouse).
Get Info Returns — Mac OS X’s Show Info window has long been an annoyance, thanks to its refusal to let you open more than one instance of the window (making it hard to compare multiple files). Also bothersome was the pop-up menu you had to use to switch among the five different informational panels. Jaguar takes a swipe at Show Info, renaming it Get Info, restoring our ability to open multiple info windows to compare files, and giving the Get Info window five different disclosure triangles so you can show only the informational panels that interest you. However, it works a bit differently from the way Get Info worked in Mac OS 9. When multiple items are selected, Mac OS 9 would open a Get Info window for each one, whereas Jaguar opens a single Get Info window with combined information. To compare files, you must open a Get Info window for each one individually.
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