Tiger: The First Day

After using Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) all day today, here are my first impressions. Apple’s official Tiger page with lots of screenshots and feature lists is “here”:1.

I’m pleased that just about every program I use works just fine under Tiger. Not just applications, but low level system additions like “MenuMeters”:2 and “iKey”:3. I did have to replace “Virtue”:4 with “Desktop Manager”:5, but I’m missing how Virtue let me tag each virtual desktop with a different “graphic”:6.

Safari displays web pages much faster than before, and Help is finally fast enough to be usable. Graphic effects (like the Expose effect) seem twice as fast. Scrolling in the Terminal is wicked fast, it just it about a second to scroll thru a 200k text file.

“Dashboard”:7 is cool and widgets like the Calendar and Dictionary are useful enough to be incorporated into my workflow. The Stickies widget is my new To Do list, always an F12 key away. I like that Dashboard is yet another virtual desktop for me, and that the widgets don’t clutter up my workspace or take much CPU power when they’re not visible.

I wasn’t so sure about “Spotlight”:8 at first, since it wasn’t finding the things I expected, tho it is amazingly fast. I know now that adding keywords to photos lets Spotlight find them, and that I can tag individual files by adding a comment to them. It would still be nice if there was a way to easily apply a tag/property (like “Final Project”) to set of files *[update: there is, see below]*, and I’m not sure if there’s a way to specify “all pictures with a height less than 100 and a width more than 200” in the Spotlight text box. I could do that by searching in a window, and clicking the plus icon a couple times, then choosing from a few popup menus; that seems like a lot of work however. Still, it’s nice that it’s possible, short of writing a little perl script I don’t know how else that would be possible.

There are some nice little improvements in Tiger: choosing Get Info when more than one item is selected opens up multiple Get Info windows, just like the old MacOS days. The Apple menu and Spotlight buttons work if you mouse all the way up to the corner, so you don’t have to click right on them. Icons are now updated immediately when files are created and deleted (no more having to click on the desktop or in a folder to force a refresh). Command-Control-D shows the definition of the word the mouse is over.

The cool factor is there for show-off Tiger demos. The RSS screensaver is very nicely done, and Dashboard’s widgets are brightly colored and showy. Spotlight makes for an impressive demo, like using it to find a set of photos that you then turn into a slideshow.

Tiger is fast and usable and useful, and a pleasure to use. I recommend it highly.

**Update May 11:** Giles Turnbull wrote an “excellent article”:9 describing how he made **@taggit** with Automator to add tags to selected files in the Finder. A cool introduction to Automator, it solves the problem of how to easily tag multiple files all at once.