Panther First Impressions; 6 New Time Saving Features

Before I installed Panther I used my .Mac account to iSync all my important stuff. I really like having a .Mac account. That is a separate post in itself though (I got a .Mac account when I got my new PowerBook). I performed a archive and install of Panther. It is now up to 3 discs, plus the developer tools CD. I just performed a clean install of Jaguar a week ago so I don't even have my Palm sync'ing software installed or anything. Archive and install just means I don't have to go through the setup and account creation process. For some reason I had to reinstall Dreamweaver MX 2004. I found out in doing this about the new online licensing scheme Macromedia uses. I had to call Macromedia to be able to install DW again, and the tech. told me how to "release" the license from my computer. How fun. I will have to post about this later. None of my other software needed reinstalling. As a matter of fact all of my other software worked just great. This is more then I can say about when I first installed Jaguar. I remember a good half dozen of my apps not working and needing updates to work in Jaguar. Apple has been doing better lately about breaking applications on their dot dot releases, and it is nice to see the Panther install did not break any apps. (Dreamweaver MX 2004 works just fine after I reinstalled it.) I installed the Palm Desktop software, and the iSync Conduit, and my Tungsten T2 sync'd just fine. There is one feature of Panther you will not see on the Mac OS X page of that I am so happy about. I would have to say it is the best new features of Panther. To appreciate this, you have to appreciate the Save dialog box in Windows. I know, this might be a stretch for some, but stay with me here. In a Windows save dialog if you want to save over a file you select the file name, and your "untitled.gif" or whatever becomes the name of the file you wish to overwrite. So far, on the Mac OS, you have to type the name, exactly, then Save and click Replace. It has always been far easier in Windows to just click the name of the file, click Save, and click Replace. This is one thing I have never understood about the Mac OS. I am glad to say that you can now do this same thing in Panther. The files are grayed out, but if you click on a file name in the Save Dialog, your "untitled" document will change to the file you want to overwrite. I cannot express how much of a time saver this is, not to have to type the name of the document I want to overwrite. This is such a time saver, especially when creating GIF or JPEG files for a web site. Now if the Finder windows could get resize handles like the Explorer in Windows. Maybe in 10.4. Beyond the other very nice features of Panther, that new Save behavior in Panther is one of my top 5 new features I see in Panther. Why? Because it is a time saver. Another top 5 feature for Panther is the new Open/Save Dialog which is thanks to the new Finder. I never quite understood why in OS 9 you had List View in the Open/Save Dialog, and when we came to OS X only Column view was available. Panther adds to the ability to use List View to also the new Places column on the left, something the Finder has needed for a while now. This is, of course, a reoccurring question of mine: Why is it that major new features in 10.1, 10.2, and now 10.3 are all features that I had grown very used to using in Mac OS 9. For Panther, we now have Labels support again (of course this meta data was always there, the OS X Finder just did not recognize it. If you used Labels X from Unsanity or the wonderful Finder replacement Path Finder from CocoaTech you could still see all your Labels and continue on with your normal Labeled world). In earlier versions of OS X, Apple made it impossible for 3rd party software to use the Command+Tab keyboard shortcut. So to get anything close to the new "Heads Up Application Switcher" in Panther, you needed to use, say, the Shift Key as well, so Shift+Command+Tab. I never understood this. But Panther does now have a very nice way to switch applications. Once again, a feature that Windows has had for eons. It is about time OS X had this. This new Application Switcher is another one of the best Panther additions because it saves time, Switching applications using the Dock (a la Jaguar) was not the best solution. Printing is much improved in Panther, even more so then the huge improvements in Jaguar. I have an HP 6127 ink jet printer. In Jaguar I could not perform all the calibration and maintenance tasks I could, in say, OS 9. Not even after installing the HP DeskJet software in Jaguar. After installing Panther, with no additional HP software, I am able to do all the maintenance tasks, settings, calibrations, etc, for my Printer. There is even a button in the Printer UI to bring up the printer's web based interface. This is very nice. Expose is also such a nice time saving feature, it is on my list of the top features of Panther. The really great thing is being able to set the fn key on the laptops to show All Windows. I don't use the fn key for anything else, so being able to set it is great (Since to use a F Key on a laptop you have to use the fn key anyways). So that turns out to be six. So my top six features of Panther are, in no particular order: Save Dialog Enhancements New Finder/New Open/Save Dialog Labels Application Switcher Printing Expose My only complaint with Panther is AppleShare. Connecting to our AppleTalk network on campus is something of a mystery to me in Panther. Our University has over 100 AppleTalk zones setup. In Panther I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get to them. I can see our root AppleTalk domains, such as and, and SMB shares in the area, but I do not see the long list of AppleTalk zones we have on campus. If I want to get to our Student Publications server, which is physically sitting next to me right now, I cannot find it in the Network window of the Finder, even though it is the current AppleTalk zone. I have to connect to it using its DNS name or IP address. I just do not understand this at all, and am not happy with it at all. There are so many more improvements in Panther that I want to write about, but not in this article. There are enhancements all around the System Preferences, Mail is a lot nicer. I will have a forthcoming article on other improvements that I find helpful. But for now, I will dig for more new time saving features. Also posted at BlogCritics. I posted this at Macworld's Forums and got a lot of responses.

Comments (1)


sounds trivial...

save time?!? i cant say that i spend lotsa 'time' saving as you seem to do.

who stole my beer and where'd my handbasket go?

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