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Mac OS X has been rewritten from the ground up, and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard New Features highlights all of the most important and user-relevant aspects of this release. Experienced instructor and lifelong Mac user Garrick Chow introduces current Mac users to the improvements in the latest OS. While not a complete overhaul of the operating system, this update does address a fair number of internal systems and external user features. Garrick explores all of these updates, including enhancements to the Finder and the Dock and a completely revamped QuickTime player. He shows the wealth of improvements to built-in applications like Safari, Preview, iChat, and Mail, and explains the updated 64-bit support within Snow Leopard.
The Finder in Snow Leopard features some enhancements to the icons representing your files and applications, making it easier to see and work with them. I am looking at my Applications folder in Icon view right now, and you can see there is a new slider in the lower right hand corner. And by dragging the slider to the left or to the right, I can make the icons smaller and larger. And larger is kind of understatement. Finder icons can now be sized up to 512 x 512 pixels, which is four times the maximum resolution that was available in Leopard.
At this size you can really see the detail that goes into some of these icons. You can see the texture on the cover of this Address Book right from the leather portion of the cover to the fabric binding there. There is the robot for Automator, Calculator, Chess piece, and so on and so on. You can check this out on your own. Now of course, the natural question at this point is, "why?" Sure, these icons look pretty but what's the point of making them so enormous? Well, another new feature of Snow Leopard's Finder is the ability to preview a document in Icon view without having to open it.
Let's just reduce these back a little bit. I am going to open this exercise files folder on my Desktop and here you can see a handful of files. Now if you are following along with me, just make sure you are in Icon view and then you want to go to the View > Show View Options command, and just make sure Show icon preview is checked, which it should be by default. Now let's make these icons bigger. Now looking up through this folder we can see a couple different types of files.
This here is a QuickTime Movie. As it was in Leopard, you can now see the first frame of the movie, which can help you figure out if this is the file you are looking for. But here in Snow Leopard when you hover your mouse over the icon, you also get this Play button in it. And I can play the movie from right here in the icon. You can see the clouds moving in the background there and you can even resize the icons while the movie is playing. We can still see it moving in the background.
Now playback does stop once the icons get smaller than 64 x 64 pixels, but at that size playing back the movie in the icon is kind of pointless anyway. And so now you can see exactly how large the icons are by going back to View > Show View Options and you can also use the Icon slider here. Once we get smaller than 64 x 64 pixels, you will no longer see the movie's previewing. Now this also works for PDF files. Let's go back bigger again. This is a great way to see what's in a document before, and without having to, launch an application.
So you can see I have a couple of PDF files here. When I select them. I see little navigation arrows. I can click through. This is just a two page PDF. This Magazine-draft is a little bit larger. There are a couple more pages in it. Now you may be thinking this is kind of similar to the Quick Look feature that was introduced in Leopard, which lets you preview a file by clicking the Quick Look button or by tapping the Spacebar.
These functions are kind of similar, but I think being able to preview a document in the icon itself can be pretty convenient, especially if you need to search through a lot of files. And you might even find it useful to use Quick Look in conjunction with the Icon preview. For instance, I might be paging through this Magazine-draft PDF trying to remember where an article appeared, and when I come across the page that looks like it might be the right one, I can tap the Spacebar to view it at the full Quick Look size. Now as it was with Leopard, the Finder can't preview every type of file, but it can preview many of the most common file types.
So take some time to play around with the icon sizes and preview some files and see if it fits into your workflow.
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