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MacNN’s review series: Spotlight and Spaces

Jon Fingas pens the fifth part of MacNN’s series of reviews of Apple’s latest operating system, Leopard. The first section covers Spaces which Fingas calls as a “hidden time-saver.” He notes that unlike some of the new features in Leopard like Time Machine, Spaces is not by default present in either the Dock or menu bar. Spaces has to be enabled in the Systems Preferences.

Spaces allows users to have multiple desktops called virtual desktops. Usually, when I use my Mac I will have several applications and windows open; i’ll have two to three Safari windows open, Adium, iPhoto, a Word document, and an Excel spreadsheet. Things are a little disorganized here. Using Spaces, I can assign an application or group of applications to their own virtual desktop. In this example, I can group Safari and Adium together in one virtual desktop or “space,” then assign iPhoto, Word and Excel into their own respective spaces. Viewing the different spaces only requires a key press or a click on the Spaces Dock icon (if available). Seeing all your available spaces is like viewing applications using Exposé. This is a useful feature for those using Mac portables. According to Fingas, “the only real drawback of Spaces may be that many users will assume that they have no need for it.”

I’ve used virtual desktop applications before and I pretty much got rid of them after about a week. More than anything, it made things more complicated than they were. But I am willing to try out Spaces since some Mac pundits I’ve heard saying that they didn’t think Spaces would work for them instead did a 180-degrees and says that Spaces is really well implemented.

Another wow for Mac users is how much better and faster Spotlight is on Leopard. I’ve been using Tiger ever since it first came out and I hardly ever use Spotlight. It’s slow. Really, really slow for me. I always get think to myself every time I use Spotlight in Tiger, “This is not supposed to be in my Mac. It’s so un-Apple like.” But I’ve heard and read a lot of reviews and reactions and the consensus is Spotlight is way much better under Leopard. One drawback, says Fingas, is the inability to narrow the search to a specific folder or location and the lack of prioritizing options.

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