Mac News Review

Snow Leopard Announced, Most Intriguing Macs, Safari 4 Released, Opera 10 Beta, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.06.10

MacBook, PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion


Apple Updates

Products & Services


Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Intel-Only Mac OS X 10.6 'Snow Leopard' to Be a $29 Upgrade in September

PR: At WWDC Apple unveiled Mac OS X 10.6 'Snow Leopard', a more powerful and refined version of the world's most advanced operating system and the foundation for future Mac innovation. Snow Leopard builds on a decade of OS X innovation and success with hundreds of refinements, new core technologies, out of the box support for Microsoft Exchange, and new accessibility features. Snow Leopard will ship as an upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard users in September 2009 for $29.

"We've built on the success of Leopard and created an even better experience for our users from installation to shutdown," said Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering. "Apple engineers have made hundreds of improvements so with Snow Leopard your system is going to feel faster, more responsive, and even more reliable than before."

To create Snow Leopard, Apple engineers focused on perfecting the world's most advanced operating system, refining 90% of the more than 1,000 projects in Mac OS X. Users will notice a more responsive Finder; Mail that loads messages 85% faster and conducts searches up to 90% faster;* Time Machine with up to 50% faster initial backup;* a Dock with Exposé integration; a 64-bit version of Safari 4 (covered below) that boosts the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine by up to 50%** and is resistant to crashes caused by plugins. Snow Leopard also includes an all new QuickTime X, with a redesigned player that allows users to easily view, record, trim and share video to YouTube, MobileMe or iTunes. Snow Leopard is half the size of the previous version and frees up to 6 GB of drive space once installed.

For the first time, system applications including Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and Safari are 64-bit and Snow Leopard's support for 64-bit processors makes use of large amounts of RAM, increases performance, and improves security while remaining compatible with 32-bit applications.

Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) provides a revolutionary new way for software to take advantage of multicore processors. GCD is integrated throughout Snow Leopard, from new systemwide APIs to high-level frameworks and programming language extensions, improving responsiveness across the system.

OpenCL, a C-based open standard, allows developers to tap the incredible power of the graphics processing unit for tasks that go beyond graphics.

Exchange Server 2007 Support

Snow Leopard builds support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 right into Mac OS X Mail, Address Book, and iCal so you can use these applications to send and receive email, create and respond to meeting invitations, and search and manage your contacts with global address lists. Exchange information works seamlessly within Snow Leopard so users can take advantage of OS X-only features such as fast Spotlight searches and Quick Look previews. Snow Leopard is the only desktop operating system with out-of-the-box support for Exchange 2007, and businesses of any size will find it easier to integrate Macs into their organization.

Every Mac includes innovative features and technologies for users with special needs, and Snow Leopard adds groundbreaking new features that make the Mac experience even more accessible to those with a vision impairment. Apple's Multi-Touch trackpad is now integrated with the VoiceOver screen reader so users can hear and navigate different parts of a window or the desktop by moving a single finger around the trackpad as if it were the screen. Snow Leopard also introduces built-in support for wireless Bluetooth Braille displays and the connection of multiple Braille displays simultaneously to one Mac.

Availability & Pricing

Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard will be available as an upgrade to Mac OS X version 10.5 Leopard in September 2009 through the online Apple Store, Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. The Snow Leopard single user license will be available for a suggested retail price of $29, and the Snow Leopard Family Pack - a single household, five-user license - will be available for a suggested price of $49.

For Tiger users with an Intel-based Mac, the Mac Box Set includes Mac OS X Snow Leopard, iLife '09, and iWork '09 and will be available for a suggested price of $169 - a Family Pack is available for a suggested price of $229.

The Mac OS X Snow Leopard Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller between June 8, 2009 and the end of the program on December 26, 2009, for a product plus shipping and handling fee of $9.95. Users must request their Up-To-Date upgrade within 90 days of purchase or by December 26, 2009, whichever comes first. For more information please visit Snow Leopard requires a minimum of 1 GB of RAM and is designed to run on any Mac computer with an Intel processor. Full system requirements can be found at

*Testing conducted by Apple in May 2009 comparing prerelease Mac OS X Snow Leopard v10.6 with shipping Mac OS X Leopard v10.5.7 using shipping MacBook 2.0 GHz systems with 2 GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce 9400M (256 MB) and shipping generation iMac 2.66 GHz systems with 2 GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce 9400M (256 MB).

**Testing conducted by Apple in May 2009 comparing 64-bit Safari 4 to 32-bit Safari 4 on prerelease Mac OS X Snow Leopard v10.6. Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection and other factors. All testing conducted on an iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system running Mac OS X Snow Leopard, with 2 GB of RAM. JavaScript benchmark based on the SunSpider JavaScript Performance test.

Apple's Most Intriguing Computer Designs

Computerworld's Ashley Laurel Wilson has posted a profile of her picks as Apple's 11 most intriguing computer designs, noting:

From the first Apple to the MacBook Air, Macs have been regarded as technologically innovative, beautiful in product design, and, over time, become just plain cool.

How to Reformat an External Hard Drive

TidBITS' Matt Neuburg has posted a tutorial on reformatting hard drives, noting that you probably wouldn't think this would constitute any challenge, but that there can be unforeseen pitfalls with formatting the latest storage drives, and explains how to proceed successfully.

"...there are three possible partition schemes, and many disks come with Master Boot Record, which is absolutely wrong for a Mac. You must choose between GUID Partition Table and Apple Partition Map."

OS News' Legal Hackintosh Tutorial

OS News' Tom Holwerda says:

"Yes, it's been one busy week here at OS News. We published a guide on how to build a computer that can run Mac OS X using an unaltered retail disc, and this guide became one of the most often-visited stories in a matter of days....

"The biggest article of the week was definitely the one I wrote about building a computer that can run Mac OS X in a fully legal way. Using boot-132, which employs an altered open source Darwin kernel to boot a regular, vanilla Mac OS X disc, we were able to build a fully-functional Macintosh for quite a low price. Obviously, it being an dual-core Atom 330 machine, it won't hold a candle to even a current Mac Mini, but what do you expect for the pricetag? The article itself probably broke all popularity records on OS News, as it skyrocketed into our top ten of most popular articles in a matter of days."

Columnist Says 'My Macs Hate Me'

Internet News's Don Reisinger says that despite the fact that Macs top the charts in reliability testing, he finds himself fighting the urge to switch to Windows, albeit first disclaiming his concession that Macs are fine computers offering unparalleled beauty and running a generally outstanding operating system.

Reisinger says he currently uses two Macs on a daily basis - a 24" aluminum iMac and a 13" white MacBook, and they're both testing his patience, although he's starting to think he's alone, since according to a recent Consumer Reports survey Apple finished at, or near, the top in computer reliability with the new MacBook rated first in the 13-inch-display category, the MacBook Pro sweeping the larger-sized screen categories, and Mac desktops also placing near the top of the heap.


Mac Slower, Running Its Fans More After Updating iTunes

iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz reports that in recent months, post-installation blues with Apple software have created problems on his Macs, especially the recent "screwy" Mac OS X 10.5.7 update with which two iLounge editors saw their aluminum MacBooks stuck in blue screen loops after trying to upgrade from 10.5.6 using Software Update. Now with iTunes 8.2, QuickTime, and Front Row updates Horwitz says that based on empirical observation, users installing them may notice their Macs running slower, fans are constantly spinning, and batteries are draining faster than they did before.

Apple Updates

Apple AirPort Utility 5.4.2

PR: AirPort Utility v5.4.2 is the simple to use, setup and management utility for the AirPort Express Base Station, the AirPort Extreme Base Station, and Time Capsule.

Use AirPort Utility to setup and manage the following products:

  • AirPort Express Base Station
  • AirPort Extreme Base Station
  • Time Capsule

In addition, AirPort Utility 5.4.2 provides several fixes, including:

  • An issue causing AirPort Utility to be unable to read certain AirPort wireless device configurations.
  • An issue causing AirPort Utility to sometimes be unable to discover an AirPort wireless device when Back To My Mac is enabled.
  • An issue causing AirPort Utility to sometimes be unable to download firmware.
  • An issue causing AirPort Utility to not correctly import Access Control Lists created in AirPort Admin Utility 4.x

Added the ability in AirPort Utility to show all wireless passwords in the "Equivalent Network Password" sheet.

For the latest information on AirPort software, check Software Update in System Preferences or the following Apple website: Apple Support Downloads

Learn more about Apple Wi-Fi.

For more information on using Apple AirPort products with your Internet account, contact your ISP or go to the AppleCare Knowledge Base.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

Platform Support: PPC/Intel

Products & Services

2 New Ebooks from TidBITS on How to Keep Your Mac Running Well

PR: There's no lack of advice available for how to run a Mac efficiently and solve pesky problems, but it's scattered all over the Internet. A pair of new ebooks from TidBITS Publishing Inc. - Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second Edition (ISBN 9781933671109, $10.00) and Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac (ISBN 9781933671291, $10.00) - help Mac users achieve peak performance from their Macs and handle any problems that might occur.

Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second EditionThe ebooks, both written by award-winning author Joe Kissell, are available individually for $10 or in a bundle for $16.

Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second Edition looks at how to start on the right foot with keeping your Mac running smoothly, and then it explains weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks that help readers enjoy peak performance and avoid pesky problems. Along with telling reader what to do, it includes a section about what not to do, explaining several time-consuming tasks that don't provide any real benefits.

Particular questions answered in this ebook include:

  • How can I tell if my Mac is likely to have trouble?
  • How can I find out which unnecessary files are taking up space on my disk?
  • Should I defragment my hard disk and repair permissions regularly?
  • What are the safest ways to clean dust and crud from my Mac?
  • What is the best way to keep my software up to date?

Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac helps readers go beyond regular maintenance to dealing with computer-related troubles. It helps readers prevent problems, prepare for problems, complete 17 specific problem-solving tasks, fix 9 common problems, and diagnose and fix novel problems.

Take Control of Troubleshooting Your MacAmong the problems that readers will learn how to handle are:

  • A Mac that won't turn on
  • Repeated kernel panics
  • Abnormal slowdowns
  • Emptying the Trash when the Finder balks
  • An application grinds to a halt
  • An application crashes
  • Recalcitrant keyboards and mice
  • A dead Internet connection
  • A printer won't print

Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS, contributes frequently to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry. Joe Kissell joined the TidBITS staff in 2006 as Senior Editor and currently lives in Paris. He has written more than a dozen Take Control ebooks, including the best- selling Take Control of Mac OS X Backups. He's also the author of numerous print books about Mac OS X and a frequent contributor to Macworld magazine. Joe runs a business called alt concepts, which publishes such Web sites as Interesting Thing of the Day and Truffles for Breakfast.

For more information about the Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second Edition, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, see <>

For more information about the Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, see <>

Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second Edition

Publisher: TidBITS
Joe Kissell
PDF format, 95 pages, free 30-page sample available
PDF Price: $10.00
ISBN: 9781933671659

Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac

Publisher: TidBITS
Joe Kissell
PDF format, 90 pages, free 30-page sample available
PDF Price: $10.00
ISBN: 9781933671291

Computer History Museum Makes Historic Apple Documents Available

PR: The Computer History Museum (CHM) has announced that it has, with permission from Apple Inc., posted two historic Apple corporate documents for public access. Apple's Preliminary Macintosh Business Plan and Preliminary Confidential Offering Memorandum - its initial public offering (IPO) plan - are now available on the Museum's website in PDF format.

The documents provide rare insight into Apple as an early company and offer perspective on the technology industry at the time. The Preliminary Macintosh Business Plan and the Preliminary Confidential Offering Memorandum were generously donated to the Museum's collection by Apple's First Employee Dan Kottke and by original Apple Investor and Former Chairman Mike Markkula, respectively. The plans have been added to the Museum's searchable online Catalog database, which currently contains more than 65,000 artifacts.

"These two documents provide a rare glimpse into Apple's history as a company," said John Hollar, the Computer History Museum's President and CEO. "Apple has grown into such a corporate icon that it's a special treat for us to see its dawn as a business - right down to the handmade corrections on the first financial projections in the offering document. We're delighted to have the opportunity to provide this fascinating insight into Apple's early history and tell a small part of the company's historic story."

The 30-page Preliminary Macintosh Business Plan, released internally within Apple Computer in 1982, describes the market position the Apple Macintosh could fill between home computers, such as the TRS-80, and business machines, like the Xerox 820. The Macintosh was announced in 1984, two years after the date of the plan.

Apple's Preliminary Confidential Offering Memorandum, issued ca. 1977, is a 38-page comprehensive competitor analysis and product roadmap. This document describes and provides early insight on Apple's "computer ecosystem" strategy for product development, which still exists within the company today.

The Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View, Calif. is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history, and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs and moving images.

CHM brings computer history to life through an acclaimed speaker series, dynamic website, onsite tours, as well as physical and online exhibits. Current exhibits include "Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2," "Mastering the Game: A History of Computer Chess," "Innovation in the Valley" - a look at Silicon Valley startups - and the unique "Visible Storage Gallery," featuring over 600 key objects from the collection.

The signature "Computer History: The First 2,000 Years" exhibit will open in late 2010.

Razer Launches Ultrathin Gaming Grade Mousing Surface

PR: Razer, a leading manufacturer of high-end precision gaming and lifestyle peripherals, has announced the release of the Razer Sphex, touted as the first Gaming Grade Desktop Skin with a distinctive ultrathin form factor.

Razer Sphex gaming surface"The Razer Sphex is a gaming surface that doesn't compromise tracking ability or durability even with its slim figure," says Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff, President of Razer. "We wanted to offer gamers a simpler and less expensive gaming-grade mouse mat alternative, while retaining extreme precision and a smooth consistent glide comparable to traditional gaming mouse mats."

Razer Sphex Overview

The Razer Sphex is claimed to be currently the world's thinnest gaming-grade mousing surface which boasts of an ultrathin profile. It is specifically engineered to perform at the highest precision for both Optical and Laser mice. Made of high-grade durable material, the Razer Sphex allows gamers to wipe or wash the product repeatedly without compromising its quality or tracking performance. The Razer Sphex can adhere and detach from any desk surface without any extra effort making it fully reusable.

Razer Sphex Features:

  • Adhesive bottom to stick to any surface
  • Midsized mouse mat suited for most gaming environments at 320mm by 230mm
  • Extra thin to avoid any restrictions to your gaming experience
  • Excellent tracking quality for both Laser and Optical mice
  • Worldwide availability

Prices: US: $14.99, Europe €14.99


Apple Releases Safari 4 Final

PR: Apple has released Safari 4, the world's fastest and most innovative web browser. Available for Mac and Windows PCs and introduced as a beta in February of this year, Safari 4 features the Nitro engine, which runs JavaScript up to 4.5 times faster than Safari 3.* Safari 4 makes browsing more intuitive and enjoyable with innovative features, such as Top Sites, Full History Search and Cover Flow, and support for modern web standards like HTML 5 and advanced CSS Effects.

Top Sites feature in Safari 4"The successful beta release helped us fine tune Safari 4 into an even better, faster version that customers are going to love," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Safari is enjoyed by 70 million users worldwide and with its blazing fast speed, innovative features and support for modern web standards, it's the best browser on any platform."

Safari 4 is built on the world's most advanced browser technologies including the new Nitro JavaScript engine that executes JavaScript nearly eight times faster than IE 8 and more than four times faster than Firefox 3. Safari quickly loads HTML web pages - more than three times faster than IE 8 and three times faster than Firefox 3.*

Starting with the development of the open source WebKit browser engine, Apple has been leading the industry in defining and implementing innovative web standards. Safari 4 includes HTML 5 support for offline technologies and support for advanced CSS Effects, enabling an entirely new class of web applications that feature rich media, graphics and fonts. Safari 4 is the first browser to pass the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, which examines how well a browser adheres to CSS, JavaScript, XML, and SVG standards that are specifically designed for dynamic web applications.

Full history search in Safari 4Safari 4 includes Top Sites, for an incredible visual preview of frequently visited and favorite pages; Full History Search, to search through titles, web addresses and the complete text of recently viewed pages; and Cover Flow, to easily flip through web history or bookmarks. Other innovative features include Smart Address Fields for automatically completing web addresses from an easy to read list of suggestions; Search Fields, to fine tune searches with recommendations from Google Suggest or a list of recent searches; and Full Page Zoom, for a closer look at any website without degrading the quality of the site's layout and text.

In Mac OS X Snow Leopard™, available later this year, Safari runs as a 64-bit application, boosting the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine by up to 50%.** Snow Leopard makes Safari more resistant to crashes by running plugins in a separate process, so even if a plugin crashes, Safari continues to run and the user simply has to reload the affected page.

Pricing & Availability

Safari 4 is available for both Mac OS X and Windows as a free download at Safari 4 for Mac OS X requires Mac OS X Leopard v10.5.7 or Mac OS X Tiger v10.4.11 and Security Update 2009-002, a minimum 256 MB of memory and is designed to run on any Intel-based Mac or a Mac with a PowerPC G5, G4, or G3 processor and built-in FireWire. Safari 4 for Windows requires Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista, a minimum 256 MB of memory and a system with at least a 500 MHz Intel Pentium processor. Full system requirements and more information on Safari 4 can be found at <>

*Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection and other factors. All testing conducted on an iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system running Windows Vista, with 2 GB of RAM. JavaScript benchmark based on the SunSpider JavaScript Performance test. HTML benchmark based on VeriTest's iBench Version 5.0 using default settings.

**Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection and other factors. Testing conducted by Apple in May 2009 comparing prerelease Mac OS X Snow Leopard v10.6 with shipping Mac OS X Leopard v10.5.7. Testing was conducted on a shipping MacBook 2.0 GHz system and a shipping iMac 2.66 GHz system, both configured with 2 GB of RAM. JavaScript benchmarks based on the SunSpider Performance test comparing Safari running in both 32-bit and 64-bit modes.

Opera Releases Version 10 Beta 1 Turbo

Opera 10 BetaOpera has released Opera Version 10 Beta 1 with their new Turbo feature, described as a server-side optimization and compression technology that speeds up data transfer by reducing the amount of data that needs to be downloaded in order to view Web pages by up to 80%, providing significant improvement in browsing speeds over limited-bandwidth connections such as a crowded Wi-Fi in a cafe or browsing through your mobile phone while commuting, or dial-up.

I've been using an Alpha build of Opera 10 Turbo for a couple of months, and can confirm empirically that it's a whole bunch faster than any other browser over my poky rural dialup Internet connection.

Opera 10 Speed DialOpera 10 beta (code named Peregrine) also includes an array of new features, a fresh look by designer Jon Hicks, a more refined feel, enhanced speed and performance, and is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems.

New in Opera 10 is a resizable tab bar. Just drag the handle underneath the tabs to reveal thumbnails of your open Web pages. You can now also customize Opera's Speed Dial feature to suit your taste by using the Configure button to choose from 4 to 25 favorite Web sites for quick access every time you open a new tab. You can also add a custom background so you feel right at home (some downloadable alternate Opera skins also include Speed Dial backgrounds).

Two installer options:

  • Intel, English - 10.0 MB
  • Universal Binary, English - 15.5 MB

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