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Apple Releases New Version of OS X

May 19, 2005

Recently Apple released Mac OS X v. 10.4 Tiger. Tiger is the fifth and most recent version of Mac OS X. Several minor upgrades in the past included upgrades from OS 10.3.0 to 10.3.9. However, Tiger is a major overhaul to OS X and provides many ground-breaking features.

Upgrading your System

Baylor University provides a campus license to all faculty and staff computers for OS X v10.4. This means that you do not have to purchase a copy for your Baylor-owned computer to be upgraded. When you are ready to upgrade, please call the HELP line at 710-4357 to schedule an appointment. Since every system is slightly different, someone will contact you about a customized upgrade to 10.4.

New Features

Tiger brings with it a host of new ground-breaking features. These include, among others, Spotlight, Dashboard, and Automator. There are also new versions of Safari, Mail and iChat. OS X Tiger offers more than 200 new features. Here are a few highlights:

Spotlight

The first new feature of Tiger is Spotlight. With modern computers, hard drives are getting bigger and bigger, which means that documents and files are getting more difficult to find. Spotlight addresses this issue by completely rethinking how one would find files on a computer. It starts by indexing more than just the name of a file or its creation date. Spotlight indexes everything from its content to its creator. Under the current paradigm of finding files, you would have to know the name of the file. With Spotlight you don't need the name. The best way to understand this is to see it in action.

For example, let's assume that someone emails you a picture they want you to use in a newsletter. Like most pictures from digital cameras, it is named something incredibly useful like DCS1100348.jpg. A week later you can't find the picture on your computer but you know it is there. Under traditional technology the best way to find it would probably be to sort your files by type and look at each picture until you find it. This process will only work if you know which folder to search. With Spotlight you can search by the name of the person that sent you the file. Since Spotlight indexes everything, it will remember who sent you the picture and provide it in the search result.

The most noticeable aspect of Spotlight other than how well it searches is how fast it returns results. Spotlight finds things almost instantaneously. You can also save searches as "Smart Folders" to be used again and again. Search results are not just limited to text files either. It searches the contents of documents, pictures, PDF's, email messages, contacts and even proprietary files like Photoshop or InDesign documents.

Apple has a great video up showing Spotlight here.

Dashboard

Next on the list of new items in Tiger is Dashboard. Dashboard is a way of placing information at your fingertips without it getting in your way by using what is called a widget. Widgets are basically tiny little web-pages that run on your computer and connect to the internet to display anything from the weather outside to package status from Fed-Ex. You can download countless widgets from apple.com or other websites on the internet.

You can see Dashboard in action here.

Automator

Automator is a new application that makes scripting easier than it has ever been. You can take pre-configured actions from almost any application and string them together into a workflow and save it as an application. You can create an application that will do things like download pictures from a website you are viewing, save them into a folder on your computer, rename them, import them into iPhoto, and then burn them onto a CD.

You can see Automator in user here.

Application Upgrades

Along with these new features some of the main applications in OS X were updated as well. There is a new version of Mail.app that uses Spotlight to locate your mail for you. Safari has been updated to include a built-in RSS feed reader. iChat now has full-duplex in audio chats and much better video compression for video chats.

You can find more about the upgrades in OS X 10.4 here.