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Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard - Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

By Hugo Jobling



  • Recommended by TR
Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard


Our Score:


User Score:

Finder has, in the process of going 64-bit, been rewritten using Apple's Cocoa API, although you'd never notice from the UI which is, on opening, exactly the same as before. In use, however, Finder fits better with the rest of the OS, rife as it now is with Core Animation (although actually that get's old fast). The ability to resize any icon up to 512 x 512 pixels would seem pointless, were it for for not for icon previews.

A fairly logical extension of Quick Look (which let you open files without launching a dedicated program), icon previews enable the viewing and playing of content from within the icon itself. It worked with absolutely every file I could think through, an MP3, a 1080p movie trailer (the playback of which is impressive in and of itself) and a PDF (through which you can navigate the pages) all previewed in their icons with nary an issue. It's not exactly life changing, and it's usefulness is fairly limited in all reality, but it's still pretty cool nonetheless.

Another improvement comes in improved notifications on trying to eject USB storage devices. If you try to eject a usb drive while it is still in use the error message thrown up will now say what program is accessing it, along with the option to force eject anyway. Frustratingly Apple still doesn't seem to grasp the concept of 'plug and play' as simply yanking a flash drive out - even if not being accessed by any program - still throws up an error.

The Dock is now getting in on Exposé, too, with the aptly named Dock Exposé. Click and hold on an application icon in the Dock and Exposé will pop up, but only for that app's windows. It's especially useful for dragging between application windows, rather like in Windows, funnily enough. You can also right click application icons to see a list off all the open windows.

Exposé now also let's you order windows either alphabetically by title, using Command+1, or by program (and then alphabetically), using Command+2. I'd argue that if you have enough windows open to find that useful, you'll probably have them organised using Spaces, though, so it'll be of niche appeal at best. More usefully, windows are divided between active and minimised in the Exposé view.

Stacks are now improved, too. Clicking on a folder within a stack now opens its content in the stack, rather than bringing up a Finder window as before. Further, in grid view stacks with more content that can fit on one page can now be scrolled - why that behaviour wasn't present originally I don't know.


September 9, 2009, 4:20 am

Sooo much faster! Boots in a few seconds and shuts down almost instantly, I like the new features, cheap, well done Apple!

Digital Fury

September 9, 2009, 10:14 am

Not bad overall, it could have been better...and worst.

I can't really upgrade at the moment because of software incompatibilities with some 3rd party solutions, in my case DxO, Fujitsu ScanSnap and DEVONthink Pro Office, which get somewhat broken under 10.6, but for 30€ you can't complain much about the limited number of new features it brings to the table. In mostly interested in Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL, but it might take some time for software to catch up; if ever with OpenCL. GPU acceleration has existed now for some years, yet very few software actually uses it and to limited effect.


September 9, 2009, 11:27 am

Another Lustful Victory For Uncle Steve

Cue the windows 7 funboys.............

Robert Elliot

September 9, 2009, 11:40 am

Actually a Snow Leopard isn't just a different looking Leopard; it's a big cat that looks like a Leopard, but whose exact taxonomic position is unclear, with its nearest relative likely to be the Tiger.

This comment brought to you by Pedants Anonymous.

Doug Ellison

September 9, 2009, 12:05 pm

On the flip side - I can barely notice the difference here on my UBMB. Seriously - I can't tell I'm on SL. I wasted an afternoon upgrading. Maybe in 6-12 months when dev's have begun to use the under-the-bonnet differences in SL, but in the meantime, I've found it a waste of time.

Mathew White

September 9, 2009, 12:22 pm

I'd be applauding Snow Leopard - if it hadn't decided that everything in my Documents folder was unnecessary, also my Downloads folder, removed all of my contacts from the address book, made my Adobe CS4 unstable, removed the website list from Dreamweaver and generally been, well, a bit unkind to me. (thankfully, back-ups were to hand).


September 9, 2009, 12:39 pm

This doesn’t read like a review, more an extended marketing piece for Apple. I don’t see any benchmarks to test performance against 10.5, just enthusiastic explanations that read like its from Apple’s website. I have 10.6 on two Mac’s – a 24” 3.06Ghz iMac and a 13” MBP, both with 4Gb Ram. I don’t notice any speed improvement in performance in either, but at least the MBP is stable – the iMac now only exits Apple Mail using force quit and crashes other software. I’ve seen warning screens I’ve never had on a Mac before. I know, I know never buy the “.0” version of any software. Well I though as this was an upgrade to 10.5 that I’d be OK. Wrong. So this article with its lack of analysis and refusal to report user problems (HP printer recognition?) makes it, in my view, anything but “trusted”. I’m sure 10.6 will be great. But avoid it until 10.6.1 at the very least.


September 9, 2009, 12:41 pm

I would imagine the latest and greatest (controversial, I know) 64-bit iTunes will be out later on today. Personally, I've never experienced problems with my immense musical library.

Expecting war to break out within the next 4 posts.


September 9, 2009, 1:06 pm

But isn't it just a service pack?!!! ;-)


September 9, 2009, 1:18 pm

I upgraded (foolish early adopter that I am) and have actually regretted it. The applications I use are actually a tad more sluggish (especially 'save' routines). Google Desktop indexing does not work any longer so I lost that (I prefer that to Spotlight), with its huge archive of my emails and documents; my HP C4280 printer scanner lost its scanning function (since recovered by searching forum advice, but with a new interface that is worse than the old one). In short I see no speed or other benefits and some definite losses (admittedly in the narrow perspective of the office suite applications I use every day). In short I regret the upgrade, ands if I could be bothered, would roll back to the last OS.


September 9, 2009, 1:23 pm

Benchmarking with XBench is broken in Snow Leopard - OpenGL performance takes a huge hit in the synthetic test, but not in reality. Besides which, I've never seen the point in benching Macs anyway - we all know OS X is fast *enough*. If you won't take my word for it that 10.6 is (subjectively) smoother/faster than 10.5 then you might as well not read any reviews because they all contain such subjectiveness.


September 9, 2009, 1:27 pm

@ Ironduke - No, it's only Mac fanboys that invade PC forums with messages of hate. Windows users generally just don't care about Apple's releases. Nothing more, nothing less. There's no bitterness from this side ;)


September 9, 2009, 1:39 pm

I've had a somewhat clean run with Snow Leopard at home, as my Mac came with it when I bought it - so I simply went through software updates and then installed Snow Leopard before installing any applications.

At work however, I have noticed some applications not working, and the open/save process in the CS3 suite certainly being a lot slower - sometimes crashing.

Rich 42c5

September 9, 2009, 1:41 pm

i upgraded to snow leopard. i'm happy overall, some nice and neat changes and improvements, but nothing fantastic either

Hamish Campbell

September 9, 2009, 1:44 pm

i've upgraded with no issues. I bit disappointed with the boot times, almost no change, I had hoped they could make a big difference here especially as they know the hardware that will be booted on every time. Looks like ubuntu will get theirs down to 10 seconds or something way before anyone else.

Just of note it seems my white macbook when from 45 seconds to 35-40.


September 9, 2009, 2:27 pm

@Jordan, good job you put the smiley on, I thought you were being serious then.


September 9, 2009, 2:55 pm

Slightly faster boot, much faster shutdown, much faster wake from sleep and near-instant WiFi reconnection, so that's all good. Performance was jittery to start with, only after a couple of restarts have things settled down - but everything's definitely faster now. aMSN didn't work, but if you google you'll find a link to the latest beta, which does.


September 9, 2009, 3:14 pm

rollix jordan they invaded the macbook air thread


September 9, 2009, 3:24 pm

I'm not usually an early adopter (the time between admiring Macs and actually buying one was very long) but I upgraded this week for two reasons :

1. Stinginess. I'd rather pay £8 for a currently minor upgrade than £25, and I didn't want the offer to disappear.

2. Fear. I really don't want to fall off the wagon trail by being more than one OS X behind. Apple really have punished Tiger users, and if I'm not mistaken, even the Intel ones.


September 9, 2009, 4:53 pm

@GoldenGuy - While I agree Apple could have been fairer on Tiger users, I think punished is a bit harsh. Anyone using Tiger obviously didn't see any advantage in upgrading to get the extra features of Leopard... With there been no real extra features for the end user in Snow Leopard, why would people that are still on Tiger want to upgrade? Yes, it offers a speed boost, but so did Leopard offer a speed boost over Tiger.

There is an upgrade bundle that Tiger users can get which includes the latest iLife and iWork and will boost your system to 10.6 for around £120, which for everything you get, is a good price.


September 9, 2009, 4:57 pm

Excuse me for asking this, as I've been living under a huge rock for the last decade or two, but are Apple users those odd folks that pay a huge premium for hardware with a little round thing branded on it because they'd feel bad if they didn't contribute to Steve_J's billion dollar pension pot?

As for the new flavour of OS, I can't say I noticed, but it appears to be slick, shiny and everything else you would expect from Apple. Personally, I still wouldn't buy an Apple product though, out of general principle.


September 9, 2009, 5:12 pm

I agree that for everything you get that suite is worth the price, but it's the same problem the PS3 had - good value if you want what's an offer but undeniably a lot of money. As always, I was bit melodramatic but I think the main point stands - if you get off the Apple conveyor belt, there can be a higher premium to be paid in cost and performance. However, I don't want to get into a total cost of ownership debacle, as the PC/Mac fanboys really don't need more baiting. Anyway, I just hope to God they're not planning any big processor switches in-the-not-too-distant future!


September 9, 2009, 5:34 pm

Unless you don't want iLife and iWork, in which case it's not a good deal at all.


September 9, 2009, 6:19 pm

All in all I believe that apple products, and most of all the Macbook range, are superior to PCs in general although undeniably overpriced. Clearly the hardware isn't as good as many PCs out there but the combination of hardware and software designed to work together is worth the price to me. Been using a macbook for the last two years for Uni and not a single problem with it. Infact its a pleasure to use compared to my laptops and pc before that.

Just thought I would add my opinion. (welcoming the aggressive replies as I type :))

Digital Fury

September 9, 2009, 6:40 pm

@eyepopper Apple hardware prices have come down to a more reasonable level, and in some cases like my Mac Pro (8-core, 14 Gb RAM, internal SSDs, RAID-6 and GTX 285 cards), it's very competitive from a performance/construction quality/noise level/price perspective compared to anything from Dell/Alienware or HP.

Hopefully Apple with come up with a new Mac Pro design when the Nehalem-EX‎ hits the streets.

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