Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

The grace of Leopard's interface enhancements makes productivity more pleasurable with a Mac, as more than 300 functional and fun features top off this update.

CNET Rating
User Rating

View more from Apple »

Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is Apple's first major operating system upgrade since Tiger more than two years ago. The changes include close to 315 new features which, while not earth-shattering, further streamline the experience of using a Mac. Please check back soon for performance test results of Leopard from CNET Labs.

Should you pay for Leopard? If you're happy with the way Tiger works, then maybe not. If you need Bootcamp, however, then you must have Leopard. And if you're considering the purchase of a new computer, Leopard makes Macs more enticing than Tiger did. Plus, Leopard makes it far easier to find documents and applications than Windows Vista. Leopard's interface niceties made the daily mechanics of using the computer more pleasurable. Mundane chores, such as finding files and backing up data, become a visual treat (See our photo gallery for screen shots.)

Mac OS X10.5 Leopard costs AU$158 out of the box, or AU$249 for up to five users.

Setup and installation
It took us about 40 minutes to install Mac OS X10.5 Leopard on an Intel-based MacBook. That's a bit longer to install than Windows Vista, but not by much. You should proceed carefully to migrate files and applications you'll need. Apple steps you through the process, but take your time to avoid writing over valuable data.

To run Leopard, you'll need an Intel or PowerPC G5 Mac. A PowerPC-based G4 Mac with an 867MHz or better processor will also work. Apple suggests having 512MB of RAM. Additionally, you'll need a USB or Firewire external backup drive (or a file-sharing volume on a network) to use Time Machine. Features on iChat require a Webcam.

The new look and feel of Leopard is different without demanding that you relearn the layout. The Dock organising applications and file becomes a bit more transparent. Bump it over to one side, and the Dock looks a bit flatter. A drop shadow now highlights the active window, and all windows share a unified visual design.

Click on an icon on the Dock and related items fan out in the order you last accessed them. New stacks help to unclutter your desktop by showing icons of items in the order they were last accessed. If the stack is packed with items, you can display them as a grid.

The souped-up Finder introduces a sidebar that allows you to rearrange items in the Places section, while Search For submenus can locate files based on type and when you last worked on them. Click on Today, for instance, and you'll see everything you've touched lately in chronological order. If you work on a network, checking out another person's desktop starts with the simple Share Screen option.

Spotlight scours through files in shared folders on a network, as well as within Safari's Web History. It gets smarter, reading "Not" and "Or," dates and phrases, and even serving as a calculator for trig equations.

Many new design elements reflect what you've already seen in iTunes and iPhone. Cover Flow, for instance, shuffles through folders as you hold down an arrow key. This makes perfect sense for browsing files. Plus, you can peek at most documents instantly. Quick Look provides previews that can pop up files from iWork, iLife, Microsoft Office, PDFs, as well as popular image and video formats. In each instance, relevant options appear, such as Full Screen view or "Add to iPhoto." Select several files and double click on them, and you've got a custom slide show.

In addition to making it easier to find your work, interface additions are intended to make multitasking less stressful. Virtual desktops, called Spaces, cluster open windows into categories, or boxes. This can cut the number of windows you may otherwise stack around your desktop--especially on tiny monitors. For example, you could move everything you need to edit a vacation video into one space, and in another Space place the files and apps needed to write a dissertation. Spaces were a cinch to set up (like drawing a chart in a word processor), but a tad awkward for us to master until we learned the keyboard shortcuts. You can also use the mouse to drag items between Spaces, and to drag the Spaces themselves around.

If you rarely back up your work because the process is too boring or confusing, Time Machine is likely to change that. The spaced-out interface is about as "sexy" as backup can get, displaying a dynamic timeline alongside snapshots of selected folders and files throughout their history. To restore a file you lost, just go to an earlier time, click the Restore button, and you'll zoom back to your present Desktop. For a current period of 24 hours, Time Machine backs up automatically every hour. It backs up each day for the past month and each week for content updated earlier than that. Time Machine immediately detected our external hard drive via two USB ports and we started backing up within a few minutes. You can check out the drives of fellow Leopard users with Time Machine, too.

iChat lets you and Leopard-using buddies share files and control each others' desktops, expanding the tool's potential professional use. Now you can record iChat sessions as AAC audio or MPEG video files ready for an iPod--great for podcasters.

iChat Theater's silly effects let you distort your face, "funny mirror" style. Green-screen backgrounds within iChat Theater let your talking head appear in a videoconference front of, say, included images of the moon or your own pictures. Other chat buddies can see these, whether they're using an older iteration of OS X, or even if they're using AIM on a Windows PC. iChat enables you to share files as you gab via video, so you and a friend can watch the same movie clip or flip through the same PowerPoint presentation. Photo Booth integrates with iChat, letting you record videos and show off full-screen slide shows.

Mac's new Mail application integrates rich note-taking into e-mail. These notes can serve as scrapbooks containing images. Some 32 e-mail templates enable you to drop in pictures and resize them with a built-in photo browser. Mail's RSS feeds tie in to those in Safari. The e-mail application also detects addresses for mapping via Google, as well as contacts for a quick save. Natural language capabilities, similar to those within Gmail, recognise phrases such as "next Saturday" for scheduling. Changes are synchronised between Mail and iCal. Setting up Mail is less complicated than Outlook, and it works with accounts from 27 services, including Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail.

Finally, the Safari browser bakes in tabbed browsing without making you turn on the feature. Safari's new Web Clips tool is cool, letting you turn any snippet from a Web page into a widget for your Dashboard.

Leopard offers many tie-ins to Web-based content (see Webware video). Among them is Wikipedia as a new companion to the Dictionary. Although you can access the open-source encyclopedia from the Desktop, no entries are saved locally.

Geotagging is a cool addition to Leopard, enabling you to tie photos to latitude and longitude through built-in GPS on digital cameras, so you can put picture galleries on a map.

There are updates to less glamorous elements like Automator and Dashcode, and Network Preferences is streamlined. There's support for connecting more cameras via cable or Wi-Fi, and for other gadgets via Bluetooth. ColorSync reads EXIF sRGB data from cameras, too.

More firewall controls are among several security enhancements to Leopard. To fend off Trojans and spoofing attempts, you'll be grilled more when downloading materials. A mechanism called Sandboxing is supposed to prevent potential external threats from hijacking your applications. Parental controls are now featured more prominently in the System and offer content filters, time limits, and Internet activity loggers to keep tabs on young Web surfers.

Service and Support
Support options remain the same as in the Tiger OS. You get 90 days of help free by telephone, as with other products from Apple. Phone support thereafter costs $49 per incident. AppleCare support lasts a year after you buy Leopard. For extra peace of mind, you should consider extended warranties.

Apple also tweaked the Help menus within OS 10.5. These are arranged well, although they didn't always provide an instant answer. Many items are better explained on Apple's Web site via message boards, user forums, and a well-organised knowledge base.

Previous Story

Inside Mac OS X Leopard

Next Story

Speed up Vista

Add Your Review 5

* Below fields optional

Post comment as

anewnight posted a review   

The Good:Time Machine worked without a hitch, simply plugged in my external hard drive and it set up. Seamless integration with external peripherals such as printers and scanners. Very quick, easy to install applications.

The Bad:None up to now, everything works fine!

Awesome interface, brilliant searching tools and very elegant backup.


maclover posted a review   

The Good:the best OS on the best machines

The Bad:none

Incredible - as usual with apple products. We are not upgrading any pc here to vista as it's crap - all windwos versions are crap, but you have to use them - for some absolutely unknown reason people use pcs. I'll never understand that.


Sdamor posted a review   

The Good:Easy to Upgrade
Great Value
Mail easy to use
Great GUI
Sharing between computers made easy

The Bad:Time Machine... Not sure if its worth all the hype

I upgraded to Leopard on Friday night on 2 machines and the upgrade took just over 90 mins on both machines, it was still less pain than upgrading Microsoft Upgrades.
Parrallels had some issues after the upgrade and wouldn't mount immediately but after a couple of reboots and praying to the MAC gods it loaded. The other Annoying thing is that Time Machine had issues with my file vault and was not compatible, which meant to unmount file vault, which took 2 hours.

Alex R

Alex R posted a review   

The Good:- Very pretty interface
- Powerful tools, such as QuickLook, make life a LOT easier when looking for the file you want.

The Bad:- Had to reformat my hard drive to install, was hoping not to lose everything.
- Time Machine doesn't work with HDD attached to Airport Extreme (draft-n)

I upgraded to Leopard yesterday... had a few hitches installing it but got it working in the end. My biggest gripe is Time Machine. Great idea, but I have a USB drive attached to my new Airport Extreme Base Station (draft-n). Despite being originally told that I could back up to that drive with Time Machine, it won't recognise that drive as a backup option, even after a format. I'm hoping this will be fixed with a AEBS firmware update in the near future, since I'm a laptop user and that would make life a lot easier.


smallpond89 posted a review   

The Good:Looks incredible!
New features are conveniant and really simplify the way you do things.
Time Machine makes back-ups easy.

The Bad:Time Machine requires the re-formatting of the hard drive (at least in my case).
Maybe not worth the upgrade price?

I upgraded to Leopard last night, haven't got to try it out much but seems fantastic. Unfortunately there's only a few major updates but the new features work very very well).
The updated finder is great, using cover flow / quick look to browse documents is very efficient.
The stacks provide and incredible and conveniant way to organise documents and applications in the Dock without clutter. It great when you create a shortcut/alias to an application, place it in a folder and drag the folder to the dock which lets you group alot of related applications eg: Adobe Creative Suite under the one header.
Time Machine should be great although it requires re-formatting the desired drive, working on a way around this.
Spaces could be very beneficial but I haven't got to put it through it's paces.
On top of all that though it looks fantastic! Core Animation gives it such a sharp, crisp and siny look, this is the best looking OS I have ever seen.

Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

  • anewnight



    "Awesome interface, brilliant searching tools and very elegant backup."

  • maclover



    "Incredible - as usual with apple products. We are not upgrading any pc here to vista as it's crap - all windwos versions are crap, but you have to use them - for some absolutely unknown reason peop..."

  • Sdamor



    "I upgraded to Leopard on Friday night on 2 machines and the upgrade took just over 90 mins on both machines, it was still less pain than upgrading Microsoft Upgrades.
    Parrallels had some iss..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products