Mac OS X Snow Leopard: Perfection, refined

Numerous usability enhancements and important reengineering under the hood make Snow Leopard a worthy update to the king of operating systems

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The new Player can reencode QuickTime movies with canned settings optimal for Web, iPhone Wi-Fi, or iPhone cellular delivery. If you require more control over video encoding parameters, the Leopard QuickTime Player is on the Snow Leopard DVD as an optional install. The QuickTime X Player has no Pro functionality. If you have a Pro license, it will unlock advanced encoding features for the Leopard QuickTime Player as before.

A sleeper feature in the new QuickTime X Player is the screen recorder. This captures full-resolution JPEG video of your entire display, along with live audio from the source of your choice. I was surprised to find that it works even when an OpenGL app takes over the display, so games, visualizations, and presentations can be captured as QuickTime movies.

A new Dock
Snow Leopard's dock has gotten an overhaul as well. Pop-up context menus (right-click or two fingers on the track pad) attached to Dock icons are now drawn in iPhone 3.0 cut/copy/paste menu style, inside semi-transparent tooltip balloons. I rarely used the Dock menus before, but now I'm a regular.

Any folder dragged to the Dock can be displayed in scrollable Stacks view.

I didn't make much use of Expose, Apple's approach to managing multiple document windows, when it was mapped to a function key, either. Now, clicking and holding any Dock icon spreads out all of the open windows for the associated application so that you can navigate randomly among them rather than shuffling through a pile of overlapping windows. The new Expose lets you do a Quick Look magnified view of a selected window by pressing the spacebar, and shortcut keys allow you to sort the windows in your preferred order.

Reading comprehension
Snow Leopard's services for rendering PDF and HTML documents are now imbued with intelligent dissection of their layout. This work was done for accessibility so that the Voice Over screen reader could figure out how to read multicolumn documents. With HTML content, text flow could be derived from the underlying Document Object Model, but with PDF, Apple would have to reverse-engineer the rendered page.

Text selection follows text flow in the Preview PDF viewer to enable cut and paste.
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