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Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard review: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

However, we wish we could access RSS feeds from Mail without signing into our e-mail account. We encountered delays with several different Gmail accounts. In one case, the most current Gmail message that loaded in Mail--15 minutes after we had logged in--was from December 2006. We kept leaning on the Get Mail button for an unsatisfactory, slow and incomplete refresh.

Finally, the Safari browser default is tabbed without making you turn on the feature. Safari's cool new Web Clips tool lets you turn any snippet from a Web page into a widget for your Dashboard. Potential plug-ins from third parties that would be nice to have already include the Web Clips feature for the popular Mozilla Firefox browser.

Leopard offers many tie-ins to Web-based content (see the Webware video). Among them is Wikipedia as a new companion to the Dictionary. Although you can access the open-source encyclopedia from the Desktop, no entries are saved locally.

Geotagging is a cool addition to Leopard, enabling you to tie photos to latitude and longitude through built-in GPS on digital cameras so you can put picture galleries on a map.

Leopard offers 17 new features. There's support for Braille output devices as well as contracted and non-contracted Braille. It's the first operating system that can use a Braille display during installation. VoiceOver makes it easier to jump to sections on a Web page, and its preferences can be transported to other Macs. However, for people with repetitive stress injuries, Leopard supports voice-activated commands only--not dictation.

There are updates to less glamorous elements such as Automator and Dashcode, and Network Preferences has been streamlined. Developers can enjoy full 64-bit support, and get to tinker with fun extras, which we wish were integrated already within iChat Theater. ColorSync reads EXIF sRGB data from cameras, and there's support for connecting more cameras via cable or Wi-Fi, and for other gadgets via Bluetooth.

More firewall controls are among several security enhancements to Leopard. Yet the firewall isn't turned on by default, and we consider it vulnerable to outside threats. To fend off Trojans and spoofing attempts, you'll be grilled more when downloading materials. A mechanism called Sandboxing is supposed to prevent potential external threats from hijacking your applications. Parental controls are now featured more prominently in the System and offer content filters, time limits, and Internet activity loggers to keep tabs on young Web surfers.


We saw only a 1 percent to 3 percent improvement with Leopard over Tiger on our performance tests. As this falls within our typical margin of error (5 percent), we saw no significant difference with application performance when moving from Tiger to Leopard.

We were unable to complete our Photoshop CS3 test because our automation routine tests, which typically run fine under Tiger, had problems with Leopard. Adobe's Web site indicates that Photoshop CS3 should be compatible with Leopard--other than the automation snafu, Photoshop CS3 appears to operate normally.

This underlies the point that some applications might not be 100 percent compatible yet with Leopard. For instance, Adobe is rolling out updates to various CS3 image, video and audio editing applications within the next four months. FileMaker is warning users of FileMaker Pro 9 that there are some compatibility problems with Leopard. However, FileMaker expects to have an update available by November 19.

Service and support
Support options remain the same as in the Tiger version. You get 90 days of help free by telephone, as with other products from Apple. Phone support thereafter costs $49 per incident. AppleCare support lasts a year after you buy Leopard. For extra peace of mind, you should consider extended warranties.

Apple also tweaked the Help menus within OS X 10.5. These are arranged well, although they didn't always provide an instant answer. Many items are better explained on Apple's Web site via message boards, user forums, and a well-organized knowledge base.

Boot time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Note: Note: Apple QuickTime 7.2.1 and Apple iTunes 7.4.2(4)

Quake 4 performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,024 x 768 (4x AA, 8x AF)  

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configuration:

2x2.66GHz Xeon X5355 (note that this is not a production configuration); 2GB 667MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM; 5126MB ATI X1900 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive

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