Average joe upgrades to Snow Leopard...review

Discussion in 'macOS' started by mattedwardsuk, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. mattedwardsuk macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008
    I thought I’d pull together a first impression of Snow Leopard, thanks in part to Apple shipping me my copy early here in the UK.

    I was running 10.5.8 on my nvidia imac 9,1, the current generation. I was feeling brave this morning when the disc appeared and thought I’d take it for a spin.

    The first thing which is noticeably different for veteran Mac users is that unlike any of the earlier OS X releases, SL will complete it’s entire installation from within the running Leopard OS. It only restarts at the end to finish.

    This was a little strange to get used to and I actually think it helps speed up the process. My installation with all options ticked took 38 minutes....not too shabby.

    My first port of call was to start software update and see what was available. Going from the About this mac button bought up a rather worrying, Software Update application not installed.


    Running Software Update direct from the option below About this Mac did however work. Here the loading bar looks different from Leopard and only served to bring up iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.4 which is for Radeon HD 4850 equipped machines...it did this before in Leopard, bringing up this irrelevant firmware update. The other update was for RDC 3.3.1.

    Right lets move on. Firing up Mail causes the library files to be updated. Here Mail is noticeably faster.We’re talking zero lag between moving from my Mobile Me, domain email and Gmail accounts, finally it works as it should. We’re talking serious snappiness...

    Time Machine which i use a lot is also quicker and gives more details like calculating changes and on the whole seems quicker. I did a quick test adding a 30GB file and running the backup, compared to in Leopard Time Machine backed up the same 30GB file as part of a backup 60% quicker, after calculation had completed TM did 1GB in 15 seconds...consider me impressed as I used to find TM really slllloooowwwww.


    Iwork 09 all works as before but pages is faster to load...thank god asi always found it dead slow! Expose for me was a bit slower than before and the difference visually takes some getting used to with the proportional sizes of previews. If i'm honest I loved how it worked before and with the slight lag, i was missed the old style.


    Finder has many noticeable improvements, the scrolling zoom bar I found very useful and the overall system seems more responsive. There is a real feeling of speed. I can glide over the finder from one bit to another and whilst I never found Leopard slow, SL seems extremely quick in respect of the Finder.

    Quicktime seems much improved but for me the UI changes seem at odds with the rest of SL. The gloss black looks nice but totally out of place and mirrors the whole look of the iphone. Also my MKV files no longer work despite still having the codecs installed...bummer! Perian....what have they done to you?


    Airport operation finally seems fixed. I usually a few times a day got the whole your network has been compromised message but so far so good. There is faster scanning of available networks and also a new option of computer to computer networking.


    Safari from my initial use seemed slower than version 4 in Leopard but this may be due to rebuilding caches following the install.

    ichat for me seems unchanged and I didn’t spot any massive differences bar some more ball spinning. I did notice however animating buddy icons but there was no example of one or instruction on how to implement this.

    I’m running in 64bit mode which was my installation default.

    To check run in terminal to get either 32 or 64 messages.

    ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep firmware-abi

    As I said so far so good. If anyone has any questions l’ll try my best to answer them.
  2. superted666 Guest


    Oct 17, 2005
    Thanks for the review!

    Im curious, did you try out any video chats in iChat or just the interface etc?
    I guess the improvments in quality etc would only come when two SL users connect... could be wrong.
  3. Corgy, Aug 26, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  4. devburke Guest

    Oct 16, 2008
    Can you tell me if the iTunes widget now works correctly finally? Try hitting the little "i" to flip it over and select a playlist. Currently, nothing shows up.

    Picture 1.png

    Picture 2.png
  5. mattedwardsuk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008

    Right to answer some of the questions.

    The itunes widget is still not working, sorry. I did however notice a CL graphics widget giving screen information.

    ichat on the whole seems a bit slower and there's lots of ball spinning. I tried with my sons Macbook running Leopard and could see no difference.

    Sorry don't know how to do a checksum but the build ends 432. Seems to be the same as everyone elses.
  6. ethical macrumors 68000

    Dec 22, 2007
    Really good review! I'm still deciding whether I want to update or not. Not being a programmer all this Grand Central stuff is useless to me, so I'm not sure if the very few changes there are are worth the £25 or so. But as I said, a really good review!
  7. mattedwardsuk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008
    Mobile Me much improved

    Just been digging deeper and Mobile Me which was always a nightmare is vastly improved. In the past I used to struggle to view my idisk and carry out a Mobile Me sync but everything now flies...

    Going into the system pref's and selecting Mobile Me brings up instantaneous information which in Leopard used to take forever...

    Also another really nice touch which i've never noticed before is on the Desktop if you get Finder to re-arange the files, the immediately all whizz in different directions to take up their new position. It's a tiny bit of eye candy but it looks fantastic.
  8. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Actually... Grand Central has no value for you right now but it will. The point of Grand Central is to make multi-core applications easier to program, so developers will write code for 10.6 and not support 10.5 rather soon. That's also a reason why Snow Leopard is so cheap; Apple wants _everyone_ to switch to Snow Leopard as soon as possible. So multi-core aware and 64 bit software will be coming, and a lot of it won't run on Leopard.
  9. Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Right click on the Image, go to Finder > Services > Disk Utility > Calculate Image Checksum (MD-5). Post a screenshot of the window which appears after the operation is complete.
  10. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    That improvement alone is worth the £25 for me.
  11. mattedwardsuk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008
    Hi it says no services apply when i try to follow your instructions.
  12. Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
  13. mattedwardsuk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008
    Sorry it's beyond me I've tried highlighting both the disc, the SL main CD image and none of it works like you describe sorry.
  14. duncyboy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2008
    Cheers for the review, always nice to have the view of an 'Average Joe' :)

    Looking forward to Friday.
  15. tails101 macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out of interest - did you order your copy directly from Apple on the pre-order scheme? If so, did you opt for post or courier? If post, did it come first or second... Sorry for all the questions, just trying to work out if i'm likely to get my copy for the weekend... Thanks for the review, all looks pretty good!
  16. Dale Cooper macrumors regular

    Dale Cooper

    Sep 20, 2005
    Agreed! Thanks for the review, can't wait to get my copy.

    Question: In what apps does the "data detectors" work? Are there an option to turn it on/off in differet apps?
  17. STC1709 macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2009
    Did you have to do a clean install on it? I have a lot of things on my imac that i cant loose so I'm wondering by upgrading it if it will keep all my documents and stuff on here. I dont have an external.
  18. stevearm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 15, 2007
    What are the new wallpapers like? I'm not too keen on the SL one personally, I think the Leopard one was much nicer
  19. distwatbe macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2007
    so that's mean the $29 pack for Leopard users are unable to make "erase and install" ? as you said the installation are operating under Leopard OS .
  20. OllyW Moderator


    Staff Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Black Country, England
    How do you come to that conclusion from the posts made by the OP? :confused:
  21. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    People are unable to 'search' anymore.

    You CAN do an erase and install. Simply start the installation process, once it's started go into utilities menu and disk utility. Format/Erase your drive. Exit Disk Utility, continue installation. Done....
  22. distwatbe macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2007
    I was just thinking if the $29 pack will be different with the Mac Box Set.
    I mean, will the $29 pack provide an option to make erase and install, or its' installation processes must be happen under Leopard ??? (If so, how can I get to Disk Utility and do an erase ?)
    (sorry for bad English, I'm from HK:p:p)
    Thanks so much!
  23. AdeFowler macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2004
    Thanks for the review mate. The improvements to MM sound very reassuring.
  24. Dale Cooper macrumors regular

    Dale Cooper

    Sep 20, 2005
    I can't belive you have the nerve not to back up!!! Harddrives fail, that's a fact.

    Anyway, an upgrade should leave your documents and stuff alone.
  25. mattedwardsuk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008
    I upgraded

    Just so everyone knows my installation was a simple upgrade. What was strange was that it doesn't implicitly imply that it will upgrade until the very last step. I nervously clicked through each part, but having read the installation notes on the DVD it explains this step there.

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