November 18, 2003

Panther: First Impressions

In general, I like it.

If you're a Mac nut, you've probably already read reviews and descriptions of Panther, so I won't try to hit all of the details. I'll just hit a few highlights.

First of all, the new appearance is nifty. Some folks really dislike the "brushed metal" look of the window frames, but I think it's cool.

Second, "Expose" is too cool for words. Here's the easy way to switch between the dozens of open windows on your desktop: press F9. Instantly, all of the open windows on your screen shrink and jostle about until all of them are completely visible. Click on the one you want; everything gets big again. That sounds awfully complicated, I suppose, but it's fast. And it takes much less thought than mousing over to the dock to find the little icon for the window I want. Then there's the F10 key. Press that and it's just like F9 but only the windows belonging to the current application are affected. And finally, there's F11. Press that, and all the windows scatter just past the edges of the desktop--leaving your whole desktop visible, so you can find that one important icon. It's going to take me a while to get used to using Expose, but it's a good habit to pick up.

X11 is nicer, too, in addition to being a 1.0 product instead of a Beta. It's mostly like it was in the past, but has some new options: you can invoke X11 programs from the Finder, and minimize them on the Dock.

The other two programs I've played with so far are the Safari web browser (which is mostly unchanged) and Apple's Mail application, which is mostly unchanged but has a few important additions. First, it's faster, which is nice. Second, it now gives you a threaded view of your e-mail messages, which makes finding things easier...I think. You can turn it off if you don't like it. And finally, it makes a nifty zooming sound when it sends an e-mail message.

They say Panther is faster than Jaguar, and that may be so; I'm not sure.

So, so far, so good!

Posted by Will Duquette at November 18, 2003 09:00 PM