12 Things I Hope to See in OS X 10.5, Leopard

by Chris Howard Jul 05, 2006

Last week Devanshu discussed rumors of what might come in Leopard; I pondered if Leopard would leap ahead; and around the web, others began discussing what they hope will be in Leopard. So I’m throwing my hat into that last ring, because there are a couple of things under it that haven’t been mentioned elsewhere. Others, such as Automator and Spotlight improvements, everyone is asking for.

1. Automator usable and user-friendly
Automator promised so much but hasn’t delivered. A horde of people will disagree, but who are they? They’re more likely to be the power-users. Automator was promised as a tool for the average person. Steve said it was for people like him and he always gives the impression he understands the average guy. On that it has failed to deliver. Automator is not automatically learned or understood. It’s great for the person who really, really needs it and they will make the time to learn it, but for the rest of us, it has been a let down.

Even with a background in programming (albeit a few years ago now) and I’m yet to successfully build a useful automator workflow. Sure I can build plenty I don’t need. However, any time I’ve had an idea for a Workflow, it has been stymied by either a lack of the necessary Actions, a lack of functionality within what is available, or plain old not being able to work it out with out spending a lot of time on it. Automator shouldn’t take time to learn or write Workflows.

Automator needs both a much larger set of Actions as well as being easier to use.  It also needs to come with a truckload of free Workflows so the average user can be more likely to find what he wants there, than by having to write his own.

2. Screen partitioning
I’ve submitted this one to Apple a couple of years ago so hopefully they’ve worked it out. I want to be able to split my screen in two. Thus I can have have one large part for the applications I’m working in, and a smaller part for things I want to keep visible.

3. Wake up Macs remotely
In our house, I print to a printer on another Mac. Problem is, often when I want to print, that Mac is sleeping so I have to go wake it up. Even though Wake on LAN is enabled it doesn’t wake when it is sent a print job. It should. Likewise when I want to connect to another Mac on my LAN to access files. Fortunately I discovered a wonderful piece of freeware, WakeOnLAN from ReadPixel which enables me to wake other Macs. But really, this should be built into OS X.

4. Spotlight
Spotlight needs one interface. Currently there are four.

Spotlight also needs to be much faster. It flies on my kids’ computer with not many files, but takes 10 to 20 seconds to return results on my Mac with thousands of files. (And mine is higher specced than there’s)

It also needs more flexible querying, such as plain english search queries and boolean searches.

Who else hates having to press the spacebar before a search in Finder so you can select the location to search. Spotlight should search the location you are in by default, not the last used one.

5. An application launcher
OS X needs an application launcher. Overflow is my favorite. Other folks would prefer something else such as Butler or QuickSilver, but the fact is, many Mac users aren’t happy with the current application launching process in OS X.

6. Screen captures
The screen capture function of OS X needs to be configurable. Options should allow selecting the folder captures are saved to; whether or not to create a hierarchical folder structure based on date; and what format to save captures in.

7. Notifications
Growl is the notifications god. OS X should include this functionality. Some would say it’s a bit Windows-ish to have notifications, but the popularity of Growl would say otherwise.

8. Finder fixes
We could probably write a single article of the Top 100 things people want fixed in Finder. Here’s a few:
- Tabbed windows
- Navigation when dragging and dropping. i.e. If I hold the dragged file over the Back button, then Finder will navigate back the path I came.
- Cut command on context menu
- Option to sort folders to the top of the file lists
- A refresh window key (like even Windows has this i.e. F5 key). Auto-refresh that is supposedly in Tiger doesn’t always work, or not work fast enough. I just compacted a file and waited 20 minutes for the Finder window to refresh the file size. Get Info told me it was different but the Finder window didn’t update the file’s size until I swapped to a different folder and back again.

9. Virtualization
We know booting Windows will be in Leopard but me and zillions of other Mac users are really hoping that something like Parallels Desktop will be built into OS X. Andit’d be great if it has the ability to boot multiple OS X virtual machines.

10. Multi-user that works properly
There needs to be some serious improvement to the multi-user environment. By that I mean where there’s more than one user account on a Mac.

Hands up anyone who has had difficulty getting an application to work in a non-administrator user account. (A throng of hands appears.) Google Earth for instance. Haven’t solved that one yet. Most times the problem can be solved by finding the right file permissions to change. Problem with that is, when Joe Average brings home that shiny new program for little Johnny Average, installs it, and then finds it only works under his own login, what’s Joe do? Either he lets Johnny on his login; or he makes Johnny an administrator. Joe doesn’t understand about file permissions.

And something worse happens. He curses Macs and tells all his friends to not believe what you hear about Macs being so reliable and user-friendly.

You could say it’s the application developer’s fault for not putting files that in the right place but in that case can’t the OS feedback what file the application is having trouble accessing? And telling Joe what he needs to do.

In administrator accounts, I’d also like System Preferences to tell me when I’m editing a global setting (affects all users) and when I’m editing a local setting (only affects the current user). And I’d also like to be able to access all System Preferences from any account, but of course, with administrator authentication where necessary.

11. Third-party utilities
With excellent utilities such as Growl and Overflow available for the Mac, if Apple is not going to include functionality to match those and others, why not include the utility itself with OS X?

Macs have often included third party applications such as WorldBook, Quicken, Comic Life, Art Director’s Toolkit, OmniGraffle and so on. So instead of killing off some small guy, why not include his/her OS enhancment utility. My suggestions would be: Growl, Overflow, iClip and TextExpander for starters.

This is not technically a Leopard enhancement and could be rolled out with any Mac, but why not include them in the Leopard install? Otherwise, include them with every Mac.

12. Eye Candy
With Microsoft copying so much of OS X’s eye candy (Dashboard, Exposé etc), Leopard is going to need something else to wow the masses and to make it stand out as being ahead of Vista. So a bit more eye-candy wouldn’t go astray.

If you want to make this list a baker’s dozen, add my issues about Parental Controls.

Well there’s my wish list. The question now is, what’s yours? Oh, and if you disagree with any of mine or anyone else’s, you don’t really need to flame us. We’d much rather hear what features you hope will be in Leopard.


  • With Microsoft copying so much of OS X’s eye candy (Dashboard, Exposé etc), Leopard is going to need something else to wow the masses and to make it stand out as being ahead of Vista.

    I’m not sure what I think about this. I *like* eye candy, sure, but I’m uncomfortable with the thought that OS X’s hand is forced to maxx the FX by the simple fact that Windows Vista does. All in all I’d probably rather they focused on improving the finder and other aspects of the interface so that it’s beautiful and functional.

    So in a sense I’d actually be pleased if they don’t come out with lots of gratuitous UI effects. But I’d also be slightly disappointed. Hmm.

    Benji had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 927
  • All good wishes to me.

    I’m not sure what I think about this. I *like* eye candy, sure, but I’m uncomfortable with the thought that OS X’s hand is forced to maxx the FX by the simple fact that Windows Vista does -Ben

    We all *love* eye-candies for sure. What Chris is trying to say, I think, is for Apple to make sure Leopard is “differentiated” enough that Joe Average’s eyes are tickled pink when he sees the new crop of iMacs and Mac minis displaying OSX 10.5’s harvests of new UI ideas and “functionalities” vice Vista machines nearby. I doubt that will require much more 3D/2D rendering hp than current SFX methods in Aqua.

    Isn’t this the reason Apple/Steve are so tight-lipped about any feature “leak” until perhaps the last hour before WWDC next month?

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 846
  • It would be nice if the Finder’s Get Info window supplied data in the “MORE INFO section, Where from:” that you could copy and paste. Right now, this is prevented. It’s nice to have the info but it arrives in a worthless format.

    mapple had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 4
  • Pretty good list, Chris.  In fact, I’ve run into many of these issues very recently.

    At first I didn’t feel the need for an application launcher, but lately it seems that none of the apps I want to use are on my Dock.  That does get annoying.

    I also had to capture my screen for a project last week and had to Google how to do it.  In XP it’s just one click.  OS X does allow a little more control but the whole process is hardly intuitive.

    As for the Finder, I think they should just buy out Path Finder and use it instead.  It’s superior in every way to Finder.  It even incorporates jpg preview icons, one of those features that XP has but OS X inexplicably doesn’t.  It’s also very intuitive.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 2220

    I miss the old bugger in OS 9 and earlier. Quicksilver is my fave in OSX since it is a perfect rendition of then Apple menu and much more. A Swiss army knife (as Chris onced proclaimed) of UI control functionality as one gets.

    The Dock is nice but it can become very annoying at times (jumping icons, to name a few) when I am in the middle of a serious “thought” process with the A.M. notepad. wink

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 846
  • I wanted to quickly add that I didn’t realize until just now that Path Finder comes with its own application launcher, as well as “screen capture to clipboard” command.

    It’s like this app was written specifically for me.  smile

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Robotech regarding post #2:
    I think what I find somewhat disturbing is the situation where MS incorporates something stupid-but-shiny into their operating system, and just because they need to be equally shiny, apple has to mimic the same unproductive though impressive non-features (aero glass i’m looking at you).

    I’d prefer to hope for a deeper sort of shinyness, that of real excellence in regard to functionality-combined-with-aesthetics that actually makes a great computing environment.

    Benji had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 927
  • XMenu from DevonThink is an Apple Menu for OS X, RoboTech - and it’s free.

    From the XMenu page:

    “This program brings back the Apple Menu to Mac OS X and also includes a complete application launcher. By adding one or more global menus to the right side of the menu bar, you can easily access your preferred applications, folders (and subfolders), documents and files.

    No need for configuration
    Five predefined folders: Applications, Developer Applications, Home, Documents and User-Defined
    Operates as a menu extra, but requires no hacks or extensions”


    Chris Howard had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • I’d prefer to hope for a deeper sort of shinyness, that of real excellence in regard to functionality-combined-with-aesthetics that actually makes a great computing environment.-Ben

    I’m with you all the way on that one, Ben. Eye-candy without substance is only sugar-coating. Any whiz-bang improvement to Quartz will have definite effect on the overall Aqua UI layer, and from Quartz it radiates upward to the Finder.

    XMenu from DevonThink is an Apple Menu for OS X, RoboTech - and it’s free. -Chris

    Thanks, Chris! I will give it a spin and come back some other article about it.

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 846
  • I wish Nudge worked on Intel Macs….

    - gws

    gwschreyer had this to say on Jul 06, 2006 Posts: 23
  • Another wish is for a major upgrade to Safari’s RSS capabilities. As we painly know, Safari RSS display generates a bland, uninspired web forms cluttered with links and abstracts. All the same look so a RSS newbie would think “Is this Apple’s best effort on UI that I have heard of?”. Truth is, they can do better, much, much better.

    If the Safari team needs some (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/424/)inspiration, Wizz RSS for Firefox is a good example. It is compatible with RSS 1.0, 2.0, Atom, and OPML formats. Works with both OSX and XP Firefox 1.5 or newer. Simple & usable usually points to Apple creations, but not RSS implementation.

    Wizz RSS works intuitively with any site with XML RSS embedded (as in Apple Matters). Feeds you have collected can be saved (in XML form, of course) into their servers accessible with ALL your other Firefox browser anywhere just by downloading “saved” feeds.

    That way, wherever you are, you are just minutes away from keeping tabs of your blogs, forums, or just wasting time with the automatically updated RSS feeds. How’s that. It is much better organization than having numerous RSS links on your bookmark toolbar.

    With a Safari version, they could tie it in with public RSS servers. If that doesn’t satisfy Steve’s cravings for attention, why not tie it in with .Mac - offer a free limited resource accounts. That makes me wonder, if Apple offers FREE limited .Mac accounts, they could potentially attract more users vice the FREE limited-time offers now being slipped in their hw/sw literatures.

    iTunes can also tie in to this RSS database and make iTunes an ideal web magazine reader - a whiz bang blogging tool if there is one. Imagine blogs that are dynamically intuitive and iTunes users (numbering in the millions of eyes and ears) are potentially lucrative audience.

    Apple doesn’t need to offer the small RSS tools. They just need to make the infrastructure for developers to use. Create a new framework if that is needed and have that framework open-sourced to have the great collective mind power improve on it.

    I’ve noticed Apple is weaning on “open source” support lately. BTW what happened to Darwin? Darwin Streaming Server? Is it me or the rev #‘s stopped incrementing long ago? What’s up, Apple? “We’re OPEN” sign no longer hanging on the door step?

    I need some sleep…zzzzz…

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 06, 2006 Posts: 846
  • I cannot believe nobody has mentioned the font and color pickers…every blog article i have read has left these out, along with Finder these are teh two most annoying things i have about my Mac.  Oh, and the fact that you can’t use Applescipt to easily automate the database backups of AddressBook, iCal, etc.  C’mon, what’s that, like 3 minutes of work?!

    peelmanG4 had this to say on Jul 10, 2006 Posts: 3
  • ...font and color pickers… -pmG4

    These are app-independent features not Finder nor OSX-dependent ones. Otherwise, your color picker or “swatches” for Photoshop CS and other nice graphic apps would all be identical. So, we don’t comment on those being a feature of the upcoming Leopard.

    Every OSX application has an Applescript/Automator vocabulary built-in. Check the AddressBook or iCal’s Automator vocabulary support. If it doesn’t have a way to auto-backup their db’s then forward your complaint to the developers’ forums (if it exists).

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 11, 2006 Posts: 846
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