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11 major new Snow Leopard features

Macworld staff | Aug. 27, 2009
The most important changes you'll find in Mac OS X 10.6


Many programs autocorrect what you type, changing teh into the, for example. And a host of Mac utilities will do the trick, too. Now Apple has built autosubstitution of text into OS X. Programs have to be modified to specifically support it; but once they are, they'll all share the same substitution list, which you can see in the Text tab of the Language & Text pane in System Preferences. A few common substitutions are enabled by default--(c) into the copyright symbol and the aforementioned teh into the. But you can add your own as well. To see substitutions in action, open TextEdit and choose Edit -> Substitutions -> Text Replacement. When the Text Replacement box is checked, TextEdit will follow the systemwide substitutions list. You can also enable smart quotes, links, and dashes, which replace commonly typed symbols with their fancier, typographically correct cousins.


In Snow Leopard, Apple finally cleans up OS X's Services menu. That menu has been around forever, but its implementation has been surprisingly awkward. To access it, you had to go to the Application -> Services menu. And when you did so, you had to navigate through a long lists of available services--some built into the operating system by Apple, others added by third-party vendors, many of them irrelevant to whatever it is you were doing. With Snow Leopard, Services promises to become way more usable: it's sensitive to context: when you open it, only those services relevant to what you're doing or the app you're using should show up.


The new version of Apple's QuickTime multimedia architecture in Snow Leopard is called QuickTime X. It features a radically redesigned QuickTime Player application, which some people will love--and many others will hate. Users of QuickTime Pro will discover that the old QuickTime Player application has been moved to their Mac's Utilities folder. It's nice that Apple kept the old one around, since the new QuickTime Player can't do many tasks QuickTime Player 7 could. We'll be posting an in-depth look at QuickTime X shortly, so stay tuned.


Snow Leopard's Preview app, now at version 5, sports some exceedingly useful fixes and refinements. The first and most obvious of these is enhanced text selections. The program now accurately detects and lets you select horizontal and vertical columns in page layouts, making for cleaner, more accurate cutting, copying, and pasting. This is a vast improvement over the previous version, which could not detect columns accurately. (Apple credits artificial intelligence algorithms now built into the core of the operating system.) This improved column detection also extends to Safari.

The new Preview also features imaging enhancements. It can now detect images from a USB-connected digital camera or scanner. A new Import From Scanner menu item replaces the Import Image command of the previous version and lets you scan, view, and correct your images in Preview; it even detects where the images are placed on the scanning bed. The new Preview will also detect a connected camera and let you import images from it. However it does not work with every camera. It did not recognize a Canon PowerShot G2, for example, but it did detect a Canon Digital Rebel XSi.


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