OS 10.4 Second Impressions

After using Mac OS X 10.4 for awhile, I have mixed feelings.

The underlying technology improvements in 10.4 are incredible, particularly for developers. These additions and improvements are worth upgrading to 10.4 alone. I feel that Tiger is the most significant update to Mac OS X yet and I highly recommend upgrading, regardless if you are a developer or not.

That said, surface features are mediocre and bugs abound.

In general, I don’t like the new Mail app. I do not like the mailboxes on the left. I don’t like that I cannot arrange the mailbox order. I don’t like that the mailboxes are no longer bolded when there are unread messages. I especially don’t like inconsistent user interfaces. I abhor brushed metal and I hate Mail’s new brushed-metal-meets-aqua-but-not-really. Cage Figher makes the new Mail less f’ugly, but only slightly.

I have reinstated LaunchBar’s rank in my dock. Spotlight loads Applications last in its search, despite Applications being at the top of my designated search priorities. This second or so additional delay is not acceptable when I use it primarily as an application launcher.

I still haven’t found anything useful to put on my Dashboard other than the weather.

Automator is clearly a solution looking for a problem. I don’t need another application to run Photoshop commands when Photoshop has had recordable actions for many years.

iCal still doesn’t support group-managed calendars. Sharing a calendar is nice, but allowing multiple people and computers to edit a shared calendar is great.

iChat does not allow you to be online with multiple screen names concurrently. AIM for Windows does. Come on Apple… catch up. Also, I am one of the unfortunate souls experiencing the erroneous “Insufficient Bandwidth” error that prevents me from A/V chatting with anyone, even though I could in Panther. Additionally, iChatAgent stops responding at least three times a day during file transfer… and I transfer LOTS of files via IM.

My complaints are resolvable and, fortunately, Apple listens to its customers. Life always could be worse: I could be back in Windows.


  1. Posted 2005/05/26 at 3:50 | Permalink

    Personally I like the new mail. :) And it is pretty annoying that iChat doesn’t allow you to have more then on SN.

  2. Posted 2005/05/26 at 10:31 | Permalink

    Try Adium. I’ve been using it instead of iChat. The latest version is very nice – it supports multiple screen names so I can log in with both my AIM & .Mac usernames, as well as ICQ, Yahoo, MSN and Bonjour (which I think is a STUPID name).

    The one Mail feature which makes up for any ugliness & annoyance is smart mailboxes. In the old Mail.app, when you keep hitting spacebar to move through a mailbox, it just stopped at the end – there’s no way to make it go to the next mailbox with unread messages like you can in Eudora, Entourage, Thunderbird and almost everything else. In Mail 2.0 I have a smart mailbox showing all of my unread mail so I just keep that mailbox open most of the time.

  3. Desertlama
    Posted 2005/05/26 at 13:17 | Permalink

    I’ve never found those desktop widget thingys to be very useful. If anything they are more of an annoyance. I remember Microsoft trying to do something with Active Desktop years ago and it quietly went away. Software is already bloated enough. Why slow one’s computer down with more widgets?

    Oh how I miss the days where a program only required a computer to have 64KB of memory! hehe


  4. Posted 2005/05/27 at 21:41 | Permalink

    Well Adam and I will be trying to iChat with Ryan this weekend since he requested that for his birthday so I’ll let you know if it’s still working.

    And as I said on my visit, I completely agree with you on the ugly factor of the new Mail UI. And as for widgets I use Weather, Package Tracker, Stickies, and a few others now and then when I need them. I’m waiting for the .Mac widgets to be released to see if there’s anything useful there.

  5. lgc90
    Posted 2005/05/30 at 12:44 | Permalink

    Although Spotlight displays applications at the bottom of its results list, you can change this in system preferences.

  6. Ronald Leroux
    Posted 2005/05/30 at 13:28 | Permalink

    Hi Jeremiah,

    Your complaints about Tiger are very similar to mine.
    Have you submitted them to Apple directly through :



    Be polite and firm, will get you almost everything.

  7. kidmidnight
    Posted 2005/05/30 at 14:31 | Permalink

    Humm, haven’t put much thought into Automator have you? It’s ability to make finder plugins to do all kind of tasks is very very cool. Right click set as wallpaper anyone? You can mass tag things with spotlight comments. That may make spotlight more usable to you. But then, you couldn’t figure that out on your own so I doubt you are savvy enough to make use of it.

  8. Posted 2005/05/30 at 18:52 | Permalink

    Yeah, I still use Quicksilver to get my applications. Spotlight is better for documents and pictures.
    Automater is a thing where people are going to go looking for ways to use it even if they don’t need it. Still, its good to know you are you have it when you really do need it.
    I don’t have anything REALLY useful in Dashboard, but I like having a phone book, addressbook, calculater, etc, so handy.

  9. Posted 2005/05/30 at 22:09 | Permalink

    lgc90: Applications is at the top of my priority list. Spotlight still returns non-application results before applications. But yes, applications are located at the top of list.

    Ronald: Yes, I have submitted my feedback. Hopefully, other users will opine similarly.

    kidmidnight: Yes, I have used “Set Desktop” and I have an Automator script change my desktop everyday to the National Geographic Photo of the Day; novelty at best.

    Not finding a compelling use for this feature certainly does not speak to my savviness or this feature’s capability. Time and attention from developers’ inclusion. Then again, even Apple doesn’t include an AppleScript library for its Pro apps…

  10. Jo
    Posted 2005/05/31 at 8:34 | Permalink

    You’re a bit hard with Tiger. I understand those are only “impressions”, but a lot of people really like the way things are. I like Mail.app’s new interface better, for instance. I’d rather see Apple work to improve its stability and responsiveness, which are a real problem to me. Spotlight ? It’s not an application launcher. It’s a search tool, and a fabulous one. I use Quicksilver to launch apps, and still use Spotlight a lot (I create, read and collect lors of documents in my job). So Spotlight is working as intended.
    As for iChat, my big gripe is that Apple just chose to ignore MSN. Here in Europe, nobody ever uses AIM, all my buddies, and the buddies of my buddies, and everyone else is on MSN. Tell someone “this is my AIM adress, let’s chat” and you’ll get nothing more than puzzled looks (either they know what it is and wonder what kind of weirdo you are to be on AIM, or they juste never heard of it). So I’d rather see Apple develop a real MSN client (ie : supporting pictures, video and audio) so it could take the role of those bugged aMSN and Adium (I’m not even talking about Microsoft’s own MSV v4 for Mac). Working on video for AIM, which actually kinda work and would benefit to much less people, seems much less important to me.
    My impressions anyway :)

  11. Posted 2005/05/31 at 14:42 | Permalink

    Jo: You’re in the minority on Mail. I’m not harsh on Tiger. I think it’s a great upgrade, but it’s certainly the roughest upgrade to X yet. I certainly experience more problems on a daily basis with Tiger than with Panther. You can connect to MSN via Jabber.

  12. Posted 2005/05/31 at 18:07 | Permalink

    My Dashboard implementation has been extensive. I use the dictionary NON.STOP. especially for my blogging purposes and when I’m sitting down for a read (and don’t know the word that may be used). I’ve used the yellow pages widget regularly for locating restaurant/store phone numbers. Plus, my stickies widgets are of great use since I don’t have a dry-erase board here, and the weather widgets are just plain useful. While I haven’t scoured the vast reaches of Tiger yet, I’ve found a deep appreciation for Dashboard.

    Honestly, Dashboard, Spotlight, and Automator alone – I would have bought Tiger. And I happen to like the new Mail look. It works a lot better for my personal organization needs.

  13. Posted 2005/06/09 at 15:04 | Permalink

    Give Dashboard a bit more of a chance.

    Whenever you get software (or hardware, for that matter) that requires a different ‘user model’, it can be something that you don’t use unless you find that situation that requires it. I use Dashboard many times a day to fill in those seconds normally spent waiting for things to happen (something to load, something to print, a copy, etc.). I have tons of gadgets up, including webcam pictures, stocks, weather, system stats, traffic conditions and many other items on a less frequent basis that satisfy that ‘glance’ user model. I’ve noticed that the people who disparage Dashboard the most are programmers, because I believe that they are the people who use that ‘glance’ mode the least; they are fully engaged in a mentally demanding task that requires long periods of intense concentration. I don’t have ADD (not that I know of), but I probably fall into the category of people who frequently take little mental breaks to switch my concentration to something else, and then switch back to the task at hand. Dashboard (and before it Konfabulator) is the heads-up display in my world, where the road/sky is my word processor, graphics program, or web editor.

    On the other hand, I just don’t seem to need Spotlight much yet. I’ve used it, but more often then not, I’ve developed such regular filing habits (out of necessity) that usually can put my hands on old docs pretty quickly. Famous last words…