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I am currently deployed to Afghanistan p. Apple has also added what it calls the Grand Central Dispatch that manages data sent to multicore processors in an effort to maximize performance; Apple says the GCD will speed up any application task, from processing images in Photoshop to playing your favorite games.


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The addition of the GCD also takes away the need for software developers to spend as much time managing multicore processors. Another new technology in Snow Leopard is OpenCL, which allows software developers to tap into the power of any onboard video cards or GPUs, for graphics processing units for general-purpose computing without the addition of enormous amounts of code. Like the GCD, these are improvements that will mainly affect software developers. But hopefully it will mean more and better-performing software for users in the future.

To put some of these claims to the test, we decided to pit Mac OS X In our anecdotal tests of performance within the Snow Leopard user interface UI , the operating system seems faster and more responsive than with Leopard. Finder, Stacks, Expose, launching apps, and other everyday processes feel snappy. We didn't, however, notice any improvement in application performance. Overall, we saw only a 2. As this falls within our typical margin of error 5 percent , we saw no significant difference with application performance when moving from Leopard to Snow Leopard.

See the bottom of this review for performance charts. Expose, Apple's system for visually finding the window you want on a cluttered desktop, used to be relegated to the Function keys on your keyboard. Snow Leopard now makes Expose accessible from the Dock; just click and hold on a Dock icon to see thumbnails of all the open windows in that application. Hitting the Tab key lets you cycle through the preview thumbnails of each open application.

Using Expose in the Dock is very natural and elegant, making us wonder why this wasn't already a feature in Leopard. Click and hold on an application icon in the Dock to bring up full thumbnails of open windows in an application. The Dock In addition to using Expose to find the right window, you now also have the ability to drag files from one application to another using the Dock. Let's say you want to add an image to an e-mail, but your desktop is full of open windows. In Snow Leopard you can go to the image, drag it to the Mail icon in the Dock, and your e-mail window will spring-load, allowing you to drop the image into place.

Though the ability to drag and drop files in this fashion is nice, we're not sure it's much easier than attaching an image by browsing through your folders.

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Still, if you know the image is already on your desktop, it's probably the faster method. Stacks Stacks got a much-needed upgrade as well. In Leopard, Stacks only listed a certain number of files and applications requiring you to go to a Finder window if your app wasn't listed. Similarly, if you tried to open a folder in Stacks, you were sent to the Finder.

In Snow Leopard, Stacks comes with a scroll bar so icons are still easy to read and anything can be launched out of the Dock. Folders are now accessible within Stacks as well, so you'll be able to navigate to files within folders all without leaving the Stacks Window. These changes make Stacks much more useful than before and probably should have been available when Stacks was introduced.

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Now you can scroll through your applications and documents and even open folders in Stacks without being sent to the Finder. The Finder While the Finder itself saw little in the way of interface tweaks, the way files behave in the Finder makes it easier to use. A zoom slider has been added to the lower right of Finder windows so you can zoom in on icons. An enhanced icon view has been added, letting you preview multipage documents and even play QuickTime movies without ever leaving the Finder window. Preview now lets you preview almost any file, even if it was created with software you don't have on your hard drive.

This means common file types from Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and even PDF files can all be previewed without owning the programs they were created in. As an added bonus, Preview in Snow Leopard provides accurate text selection to multicolumn PDF files using artificial intelligence to infer the layout of each page. This means that Preview recognizes that there are multiple columns in your document so you can select the text you want from any column.

You can now flip through the pages of multipage PDF documents using the arrows that appear over PDF docs when you mouse over. Safari 4 Safari 4 has been widely available for some time, but it offers a couple of new features when running in Snow Leopard. Safari 4 already includes Top Sites for viewing all your favorite sites as thumbnails for easy access and full history search, which lets you view your history in a Cover Flow-like interface.

But in Snow Leopard, Safari is now crash resistant. This means that if a plug-in crashes, it won't crash the whole browser. Simply refresh the page to try to load the plug-in again. Also, Safari checks to see if a site you are visiting is known to be fraudulent, is distributing malware, or is known to be a phishing site, and then warns you if it is. Top Sites, which was already available in Safari 4, lets you navigate to your most viewed Web sites quickly. Now, when you play a movie and move your mouse outside the window, the interface fades away quickly to give you a more immersive video-viewing experience.

When watching a movie, you can click the new Share button to convert your movie for iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV, and QuickTime converts the video to work best on your chosen device.

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You also can now record video from your Webcam, audio, or just the action on your screen with a few clicks. Those with the iPhone 3GS will recognize the new trimming feature in QuickTime X, letting you grab just the video content you want. QuickTime X probably received the most interface tweaks in the Snow Leopard update. The cleaned-up interface and autofade features look great like most things Apple , but it's more of an aesthetic improvement than anything else. The recording features for video, audio, and screencast capturing are the big wins here and used to be offered only in QuickTime Pro.

It's good to see these features will be able to be used by a wider audience in Snow Leopard. Trim your videos easily by clicking and dragging start and end points of the clip. Exchange support One of the main roadblocks for Mac users in a primarily Windows workplace was the inability to connect with Microsoft Exchange servers. Most Mac users used Microsoft Entourage or available open-source options as a work-around, but it was never as smooth as connecting from a Windows machine with Microsoft Office.

Snow Leopard now supports Microsoft Exchange Server out of the box so you can easily connect using Apple's Mail app, grab global address lists in the Address Book, and create meetings with contacts using iCal. Apple did more than simply give you the ability to connect, however. Common tasks like creating meetings, for example, are incredibly easy with intuitive controls. As you might surmise, it contains a number of fixes and feature enhancements for the newest big cat. Apple, as always, recommends Among the general issues addressed in the update are a well-publicized if unusual bug that could result in data loss when using a guest account , a problem that could cause a system to logout unexpectedly, Spotlight search results not showing Exchange contacts, the reliability and duration of VPN connections, VoiceOver performance, and video playback and performance issues that could crop up for the latest iMacs when AirPort is active.