Panther Rules!

I’m enjoying OS X 10.3…

I can easily add pictures to people in my Address Book just by dragging the pic from iPhoto to the picture selector (and can easily zoom & crop). And the person’s picture is displayed in Mail when I read messages from them. I really like that since email is so impersonal, it adds some personality.

I’m still getting used to the threading in Mail and wish there was a way to collapse all threads with a keystroke. But the implementation is the best I’ve ever seen in any mail app or newsreader. Selecting the collapsed thread shows the message summary in the preview pane. And best of all, when I have a mail message open and click the Mail icon in the Dock, the view window opens. It was annoying in previous versions that I had to press Cmd+Shift+N to open it again just because I had a message window open.

Exposé is great and the visual effect is very pleasing. Hit F10 and all the windows for your current app are highlighted and the rest of the screen gets dim. Hit F9 and it arranges and shrinks all your apps so they don’t overlap making it very easy to see all your windows at once. Best of all, you can cursor to the different windows and it clearly shows you the selected window. It’s just plain beautiful.

Fast user-switching is the best visual effect I’ve ever seen in an OS. When you switch to a different user, the entire screen spins around as if it’s on a cube and rotates to the next user’s screen. It’s an addicting effect to watch. We switch users all the time on the iMac and our iBooks and it works really well even on the slow iBook. That’s an indispensable feature now.

The Cmd+Tab method of cycling through running apps is much improved and does it the way Windows (Alt+Tab) has done it for years. But of course, it’s improved and done the Apple way… if you have few apps running the icons are huge and if you have lots of apps, the icons just get smaller. Windows isn’t as thoughtful; everything is the same size and hard to read.

I really love the smooth scrolling feature, it’s very aesthetically-pleasing. But it’s too slow on the G3 iBook so I have to turn it off for the iBook. But on a faster machine, it’s a pleasant experience. Everything smooth-scrolls, including text windows in Safari.

The fonts look even more smooth than previous versions. The Mac has always looked like printed ink on paper to me, and it’s even better now (and has always been better than the poorly-done and eye-straining ClearType in Windows). I’m glad there are some companies who care about this stuff!

Overall, they’ve continued to refine OS X into the best experience for any OS. I just don’t think any reasonable person can use OS X and not be in awe at how great computers can be. Apple clearly has the user in mind and they think of everything.

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