What you’ll find in my Leopard… and what you won’t

I had made plans for a proper break-down concerning the features, changes, and updates for Apple’s latest feline incarnation – 10.5 Leopard. Ultimately, I decided that there had been far too many of those posts that I couldn’t justify one of my own. Rather, I’ve decided – with proper motivation from a few individuals – to share what you all might find if allotted some one-on-one time with my computer(s).

A salute to 3rd party developers, you have all inspired Apple

Before I continue, I would like to take a few minutes to salute a handful of third party developers whose little application “babies” may have been completely replaced by features integrated within Leopard.

Apple Leopard Stacks resemble Stunt Software - Overflow

To the developers at Stunt Software (creators of On The Job), Overflow was sooo awesome it may not be that surprising that Stacks [Grid] bore a striking resemblance.

System Preferences - Apple Spaces

To the developers of VirtueDesktops, your virtual desktop(s) solution was by far the best method for expanding a workspace. I will never forget that slap to change desktops trick (hack) – SlapBook. Alas, 10.5 Spaces is as integrated of a virtual desktops solution as there can be.

Tabbed windows for iChatTo the creator of the ever so popular iChat enhancement – Chax. You did everything right for iChat that Apple should have done from the very start. Why it took Apple so long for tabbed windows and proper account management is beyond me. Chax was the first bit of software I installed after a clean disk wipe.

Apple Leopard Time MachineTo the developer of SuperDuper, I owe you for saving me from premature baldness after random HDD failure. You made backing-up data as easy as putting on socks. Although Apple has a solid backup solution with Time Machine, having the original Leopard install DVD at hand for a restore is a definite pain in the arse. As soon as SuperDuper is 100% Leopard compatible, I’m coming back. Until then, “Scotty, we need more power…”

Apple Leopard SpotlightQuicksilver, it was hard to let go, but Spotlight really cleaned-up and became the search tool it was supposed to be. I know I’m giving up quite a bit with the ever so useful plugins, but Spotlight really has something – deep document and file search with speed to match. From what I’ve gathered, Spotlight is just as fast, if not faster than Quicksilver [as an application launcher] on a variety of configured machines.

Apple Coverflow

And finally, to Steel Skies and their Coverflow technology. After Apple’s questionable inspiration followed-up by an intellectual rights acquisition, it was only natural that Apple integrate the file browsing technology throughout most of its operating system. Coverflow will surely find its way into other aspects of Apple Software as foreseen by Chris M.

What you’ll find in my clean Leopard install

A large percentage of current Leopard users opted for a simple upgrade from Tiger. I, on the other hand, decided that I would take the opportunity of a clean install to decide which applications were a must, and which were a bust.

In addition to the usual iLife applications like iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie, and Garageband for “fun”, productivity needs are handled by iWork – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Until Office 2008 is officially released, I can’t comment on whether or not iWork will remain my main office tools.

Other non-Apple applications installed on to the hard drive?

  • Adobe Creative Suite Web Premium – A complete tool set for work, work, and play. I still find it hard to stomach the ~$1,500 pricetag. When the software is considered industry standard, there really is no way of getting around the entrance fee. Right?
  • CSSEdit – Initially, I had my doubts about whether or not I could justify purchasing a license for a tool which specialized in nothing but CSS creation, testing, and debugging. I was wrong. CSSEdit has proven to be an invaluable asset for editing websites in real-time. The added X-Ray tool, stylesheet override, and code completion come in handy from time to time as well.
  • Firefox – Since Leopard and Safari 3, I’ve relegated nearly 90% of my internet browsing time to Safari, with the remaining 10% in Firefox. You really can’t beat the Firebug extension.
  • Handbrake – Nearly every memorable DVD I have is made available digitally for in-house streaming thanks to this handy little application. Pop a DVD in, select your output quality level, and rip a copy as backup.
  • Little Snitch – This allows me to monitor, approve, or disapprove network traffic coming in or out from my computer. Use this in unison with the OS X [flimsy] Firewall for complete control over your internet traffic. Make sure to grab the latest [beta] version if you’re on Leopard.
  • Mailplane – Although Gmail new IMAP support provides an even more convincible reason to switch to Mail, I can’t help but keep a copy of Rubben’s Mailplane. Think of it as a specialized wrapper for all of your Google email accounts. Not only that, the application is developed by an individual devoted to delivering quality while corresponding with users on a personal basis. [Check out my review: Mailplane, Gmail will replace your desktop email client]
  • PandoraJam – A Pandora wrapper for music without the need to keep Safari or Firefox running. Additional benefits? Automatic recording and song slicing / import into iTunes. Perfect for creating one-off playlists in iTunes.
  • Pukka – I use del.icio.us to easily manage my bookmarks online. Pukka makes the task as easy as possible. Add the ‘Send to Pukka’ bookmarklet for quick posting to your account.
  • SmartSVN – Subversion wrapped in a decent Java GUI. I loathe the command line and SmartSVN keeps me sane while collaborating with co-workers. It’s not the prettiest client on the planet – I’m waiting for Versions to finally turn into something tangible.
  • TextMate – A personal favorite for plain text editing and web development; edit projects, code folding, themes, bundles, and custom snippets.
  • Transmit – Panic’s S/FTP client for OS X. The interface continues to look the same, but the features continue to improve with each release. Current favorite due to Amazon S3 droplet support for quick remote backups.
  • Perian – Not exactly an application, but an enhancement for QuickTime video file playback. Before Perian, it became customary to make VLC one of my first application downloads after a clean installation. Not anymore.
  • VMware Fusion – I dropped Parallels like a bad habit after VMware Fusion [beta] was released. From my own experience, Fusion is much lighter on system resources while virtualizing Windows XP & Vista.
  • VLC – I digress. VLC is back on the machine after I discovered that the one two Quicktime + Perian combo does not support HD .mkv file format rips. +1 for Arnold.

So there you have it, a lightweight list of “my necessary” applications after a Fresh installation of Leopard. Notable applications that would have been installed on Tiger: Quicksilver and Growl. What applications do you insist as requirements after a fresh Leopard install? Are there any major changes in habit from OS X Tiger?

Discuss - 25 Comments

  1. Jeremy says:

    Quick typo… “TestMate” should be “TextMate’

    Anyways, this post was a LOT better than posting yet ANOTHER what I like/dislike about Leopard. Good lordy those are getting old.

    Your software list matches very closely to my own, which is why I think I’ll give CSSEdit another shot. One word on an SVN client. I tried SmartSVN but found it to be really bulky. Tons of features and zero command line, but I think that comes at the expense of a lot of added weight. I did use it for a while until I just got really tired of having SmartSVN hog so much of my system resources- even while idle. I ended up discovering svnX which is a really light weight SVN client made explicitly for OSX. True, it it a bit tricky to set it up, but once you’ve gone through that hassle, it’s a breeze. Light, snappy, and Cocoa-a-licious. And having a “real” install of svn running on your mac feels more “legit” to me (versus runing a large awkward Java app).

    Just a thought!

  2. Stefan says:

    Speaking of svn… it’s good, but have you tested “git” (http://git.or.cz/)? It’s stunning, simply the best version-controll I’ve ever seen. How to install on Leopard can be found in this wiki (http://wincent.com/knowledge-base/Installing_Git_1.5.2.4_on_Mac_OS_X_Leopard). To find out more hear Linus Torvalds speak on Google TechTalk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XpnKHJAok8).

  3. It’s good to have your usual comfort applications on a new install of an operating system. It’s like moving into a new empty house with nothing in it. It’ll only be comfortable and classed to yourself as a true home when you bring in the furniture

  4. Dries says:

    At the moment I just upgrade my tiger install… but I’m comming to the same conclusion as you mentioned – quite a few apps are really not needed anymore. So I’m planning on a clean install this weekend…and looking more than forward to it!
    Here’s my list of appz I would still use:
    – Adium (as ichat doesnt connect to MSN)
    – Skype (same as above)
    – Papers (research article management)
    – Adobe creative suite
    – Disco (cd burning)
    – GrandPerspective (keeps my disk healthy)
    – Xslimmer (gives me more diskspace)
    – Meetingmaker (it’s what we use at work)
    – iWork
    – FreeMind (mindmapping tool)
    – Soundflowerbed (re-routed all audio from the system to where I want it to go)
    – Audacity (records anything I need at any time)
    – Joost (some entertainment for on the road)
    – PlasmaPong (more entertainment)

  5. Joshua says:

    Did you switch from Design Premium to Web Premium?

  6. Matthew Parcher says:

    One more typo:

    “From what I’ve gathered, Spotlight is just as fast, if not faster than Spotlight [as an application launcher] on a variety of configured machines.”

    Which looks like it should be:
    “faster than Quicksilver [as an application launcher]”

  7. Will Wilkins says:

    Great post Derek! Exactly what I needed.

    I purchased Leopard but have been hesitant to upgrade. Have you experienced any issues with Adobe Creative Suite (or any other of the applications you mentioned) on Leopard?

  8. Derek says:

    @Jeremy, thanks for catching the typo. Corrected. I never really noticed SmartSVN being a resource hog but I think I’ll give svnX a try. Judging by the screenshots alone it does look like it would take a little more time to setup. Maybe you can help with setting svnX up?

    @Stefan, I’ll make sure to give that client a try as well.

    @Joshua, yes. Switched with a software upgrade.

    @Matthew, oops. Corrected as well. Proof of a post published late at night.

  9. Andrew says:

    “After Apple’s questionable inspiration followed-up by an intellectual rights acquisition [of Coverflow]”

    I don’t think there’s any evidence that Apple did anything other than buy Coverflow immediately, there was no period of “questionable inspiration”. SteelSkies announced the sale at the same time the first version of iTunes with CF appeared.

    The post you link to doesn’t give any other impression, either. The author *assumed* at first that Apple had simply copied it, but if you read it again, he describes learning of the sale on the SteelSkies site right after seeing the feature in iTunes.

  10. Nico says:

    Also have a look at ZigVersion for an easy-to-use SVN GUI. (free for commercial use)

  11. Sam says:

    I did a simple upgrade to Leopard but I’m considering doing a clean install like you did to get rid of any “junk” applications and unnecessary files laying around that I don’t use. Any tips before I wipe out the HD? Adobe raised a flag when I migrated all my data to my new Mac. Did you have to deactivate some software before you did a clean install?

  12. Derek says:

    @Sam: Make sure you have all your original licenses at hand. Also check for Leopard ready software updates. No point installing an application if it is not going to be 100% stable in Leopard. I didn’t deactivate any software. I simply entered the original licensing information after the clean wipe.

    @Dries: Careful with XSlimmer. I know they are beta testing a new release right now so it might be worthwhile to hold out. I dropped a few apps into XSlimmer and they stopped working. Thankfully I had backups enabled.

    As far as Adobe products performance under Leopard – fantastic. I do know that there were a couple apps that needed Leopard updates from Adobe but the basics like Photoshop and Illustrator work without a hitch.

  13. MG says:

    Wait – you’re an advanced OS X user but you loathe Terminal? How does that work?

  14. Derek says:

    @MG, where in the post did I say I was ‘advanced’? And the comment about not liking Terminal refers to me having to use it for SVN. I prefer a client over the command line any day.

  15. Clay Carson says:

    Amen to Quicksilver! It has been so hard to ween myself away, I keep trying to go back but the new Spotlight is so solid.

  16. Arnold says:


    You placed Perian over VLC? VLC is the ultimate player out there! Sure it may not be as good looking as Perian, but VLC can be used on almost any platform out there. And if you want to capture streaming media feeds, VLC is an excellent solution. It’s all about VLC in my Leopard.

  17. Charity says:

    I just jumped on the bandwagon last week with my very first Mac. Loving it so far. I’m running CS3 Web Premium as well, but CSS Edit was one I was looking at adding to the arsenal. I haven’t tried it yet, but the real-time preview sounds too good to be true! 🙂

  18. […] “What you’ll find in my Leopard”… and won’t Punsalan points out which Leopard features have taken obvious cues from 3rd party apps. (tags: leopard mac osx apple software) […]

  19. Jeremy says:

    @Derek – Sure! I’d love to help share the luv. I got it up and running pretty quickly even though I’m still a little wary of the command line. Pretty easy:

    1) Download the installer package from this fella
    2) I had to actually switch over to windows and use winRAR to unpack the file and get a nice clean .dmg file. Weird.
    3) launch installer
    4) Followed the first 1/2 of this tutorial to make sure SVN was installed properly. Namely this part:

    “… if you’ll be running subversion from the command line, and if it’s not already, you’ll need to add /usr/local/bin to your PATH. You’ll also need to set a default editor to use for comments when committing files to the repository. Edit (or create) the file at /Users/username/.bash_profile and add this line to the bottom of the file:

    export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin
    export SVN_EDITOR=/usr/bin/vi (or your editor of choice)

    The next Terminal window you open will use this updated path. Congratulations! You have subversion installed.

    5) Download and install SVNX: http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/15527
    6) Ha! You’ve been fooled. There is not #6. You’re done.

    From what I’ve found, SVNX feels a lot more light weight than SmartSVN. From what I’ve heard, Leopard’s implementation of Java is somewhat lame anyway (oddly). The only reason I’ve ever had to jump into the command line was to run an svn-cleanup. No biggie though.

    ~ Jeremy

  20. Hmmm, I haven’t had a problem playing my 720p HD .mkv files in Front Row via Perian. I have a low end intel mac mini hooked to my HD LCD TV and everything works fine. Y

    You have to wait a couple of minutes for the sme of the video to be loaded into the buffer, but after that it plays fine.