Mac OS X Leopard

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Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" is a version of Mac OS X. With the release of "Tiger", Apple had become aware of Microsoft's plans for a next-generation version of Windows codenamed "Longhorn" at the time, and pushed forward with several revolutionary desktop features, and began to market Mac OS X as "the world's most advanced operating system".

Leopard, however, is very significant to Apple Mac OS X history for numerous reasons. The first, however, is because it holds the longest record between Mac OS X releases, and outside of the Intel transition may be what contributed to the longest update cycle yet in 10.4 "Tiger", (though this is only speculation and is debatable). Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs first mentioned a next OS X release after Tiger in 2005, but announced Leopard on August 7 at the WWDC 2006, targeting a Spring 2007 release that never occurred. Conversely, Microsoft's project "Longhorn", however, finally was completed as Windows Vista on November 8, 2006, and by January 30 of that next year had shipped. Leopard again was announced, this time as a full beta, on June 11 at the WWDC 2007--one year after the original announcement. Even then, 10.5 "Leopard" would not be released until that fall in October--9 months after Windows Vista and 2 years after the original discussion.

When 10.5 was finally released to the public, it had the most impressive array of features yet and complemented Apple's new "Mac vs. PC" ad, which had taken full advantage of the bad press following Vista's release. While Panther and Tiger had indeed introduced three revolutionary features altogether that would be icons for Mac users everywhere, with the introduction of Expose and FileVault, then Spotlight -- Leopard brought a total of 300 new changes and features, and several major innovations that actually were ahead of or equaled work done with Longhorn in several respects.

The first major set of changes were done to the Aqua UI, which had previously undergone brushed metal and glossy, semi-unified changes in Tiger and Panther. In Leopard, several major system icons were changed for the first time, including all folders in the Finder. This caused controversy amongst reviewers who found the new flat badged folders to be difficult to distinguish at smaller icon sizes. But Aqua did finally address long-held concerns by the Mac community in several areas. Leopard introduced the Unified toolbar design in all applications, and completely got rid of the brushed metal and glossy pinstriped plastic and aluminum look and feel, replacing it instead with a dark gray, more professional tone. System dialogs, menus, and sheets now had blurred, smooth backgrounds and corners were rounded. Animation speed and responsiveness improved significantly from earlier versions, and drop shadows were strengthened on active windows. Blue gradients for selected items were made sharper and darker with a distinct vertical gradient, and the AirPort menu was slightly cleaned up and improved, allowing faster selection of networks over Tiger. The Menubar became square, losing its signature rounded corners, and also became semi-transparent, slightly showing the background underneath. The Dock was transformed into a 3D "reflective floor" as well, as described by the Leopard Dock demo video, which meant windows close to the dock and icons reflected back like a mirror. The Dock also replaced the old triangle indicators with blue orbs of light to signify running applications. Both changes also caused complaints amongst reviewers due to visibility, similar to the badged folders, and Apple eventually allowed Mac users to turn off Menubar transparency in Desktop & Screen Saver preferences. The Dock can also be changed to a black 2D appearance by either putting it on the left or right sides, or through a Boolean value in Terminal. Also, Macs that did not support new Core frameworks and acceleration, such as older G4s, had a gray-white solid Menubar gradient background instead.

Spotlight was dramatically expanded to search networked Macs, supported Back to My Mac, and could now retrieve Dictionary definitions and do simple calculations from the Menubar when summoned. The OS X Help system also featured Spotlight search for menu items and topics, and was able to dynamically show the location of menu items within that application. Spotlight's behavior changed to allow the first item highlighted to be opened by pressing Return, rather than the "Show All..." menu item and improved search results, integrating smart folders and categories more into advanced searches and the Finder sidebar itself. The Spotlight logo was slightly modified in System Preferences, and the Menubar now sported a clean magnifying glass instead of the circle Spotlight logo.

Since the beginning, Mac OS X had a rather annoying problem. In the event a user needed to reinstall the system, or if their hard drive had crashed, Mac OS X did not have a built-in backup system. The user would have to back data up manually and transfer it back manually to another source, or otherwise had to use the built-in *nix tools or a RAID set whenever they could remember to back the system up. If OS X needed repairs, it usually required booting from the Mac OS X DVD and doing an Archive & Install or doing filesystem repair and unmounted partitioning from the DVD. Apple answered these two concerns in Leopard. Firstly, Disk Utility gained the ability to repair the startup volume/disk while the system was running and allowed live partitioning of that volume as well. Secondly, Apple introduced what would become another instantly recognizable Mac feature--Time Machine. This allowed automatic backups of the user's home folder and the system itself to an external hard drive or later, to a Time Capsule, so that Mac users could easily manage their backups and restore them through a rather cool animated galaxy frontend that allowed bringing those files back "from the past". And long before system-wide AutoSave in 10.7 Lion, Leopard allowed TextEdit documents to auto-save if the user set it in TextEdit's preferences.

Several other areas of OS X were addressed to make working on the Mac simpler. TextEdit allowed smart or curly quotes, and supported newer XML-based Microsoft Word documents. Non-active windows could be selected, the Terminal gained tabs and color presets, and Guest accounts were introduced for easier use, as well as a full suite of Parental Controls built into the system with a dedicated preference pane that was much easier to find and a much simpler setup over Tiger. For the first time, Macintosh systems now gained the ability to have multiple virtual desktops (4 by default) that could be created, deleted, and switched to directly using the mouse or keyboard. Apple marketed this feature as "Spaces". Boot Camp was directly integrated into OS X for Windows users, unlike in Tiger, where it had to be installed separately or as a factory application. Networking was also greatly simplified, from the redesigned preference panes (i.e. Network, Sharing, and Security) in System Preferences, to the new browsing ease between both Mac and PC systems, which could appear in the sidebar. Accessibility was revamped for easier use, and introduced a new voice that used artificial inhale sounds during pauses called "Alex" that replaced Vicki from Panther--though Vicki can still be used, albeit with a slightly different accent from the new speech engine. VoiceOver received significant improvements over Tiger as well, and improved how user changes could be assigned to the interface and navigation commands. Front Row, an option for certain Mac models in Tiger, was added to the default set of applications and shipped with Leopard. Font Book also protected system fonts that could previously be removed by mistake, and allowed easier printing. Mail added the ability to completely save or "archive" your mailbox if you wished, and data detectors, which allowed Mac users to save contacts from written info similar to the iPhone and Stationary, a set of templates that could be dynamically customized then sent to different mail clients, whether they were on another Mac or not if they used a client capable of rich mail features. Unknown to many Mac users, Notes and To-Dos were first introduced in Mail in 10.5 Leopard -- the reason why this is often missed is because it is hidden as another feature within the Mail application, and are not separate applications.

The Finder was, for the first time, completely rewritten in Cocoa and included a new Sidebar that modeled after the one introduced in iTunes, which cleanly separated devices, networked computers, places, and searches or smart folders into distinct groups, making navigation easier. Cover Flow was also added to the Finder, along with enhanced folder sharing and Quick Look -- which allowed all supported types of documents, pictures, music, and videos to be previewed without having to open an application separately with one press of the spacebar to summon Quick Look and another to close it. 128x128 pixel icons that surpassed the previous 64x64 icon size and full-page navigable previews were also added when icons were scaled up with View preferences in the Finder.

Other tidbits were added to the OS, like a new Downloads folder, which became needed as other browsers and systems included such a folder when installed. The ability to map locations from context menus in applications such as Address Book, spring-loaded icons in the Dock, a new Stacks feature which allowed users to place items directly on the Dock, and the addition of Wikipedia to the Dictionary search results were added. Apple also continued to improve international support, including for Japanese. DVD Player allowed better resuming of movies, a sleeker interface, and now could recover from scratches. iCal could now "auto-pick" times for events such as appointments, and it was now possible to turn off all alarms quickly, amongst several other minor improvements to the application.

iChat AV also significantly advanced with the signature Backdrop feature and Effects that could be applied to live video to produce distortion, color effects, and other fun mods from an attached webcam, also in the Photo Booth application. It was also now possible to do tabbed chatting, and multiple logins, amongst other serious improvements.

Developer features also seriously advanced, starting with user-level features such as full EXIF support, full Unicode support for AppleScript, the ability to directly edit property lists, and UI recording and "starting points" in Automator, which was previously introduced in Tiger. Dashcode for the new release of XCode also extended the Dashboard and made it easier to develop widgets; normal users could also make "web clips", similar to Active Desktop in Windows 98, which allowed sites to be updated as widgets in frames. OpenGL improvements, a new Core Animation framework, and enhancements to multi-core were added to 10.5 Leopard, along with enhancements for 64-bit computing, allowing applications to fully take advantage of 64-bit instructions, leveraging the previous ability to address large amounts of memory added in 10.4 Tiger. Instruments also allowed "analysis templates" and direct dtrace support in Leopard. The Objective C 2.0 standard was also added to Leopard in this release, project snapshots, and instant-on debugging were also introduced to XCode version 3 that shipped with Leopard.

While early developer previews of Leopard could boot on the G3, and while Apple had originally included "G3" within early adverts for the upcoming Leopard, by the later betas and the final release, it was clear that the G3 was completely dropped, leaving 10.4.11 to be the last official Mac OS X release to run natively on the G3. Early G4 machines were also unsupported, though a quick OpenFirmware hack allows Leopard to bypass the clock check, and therefore be installed normally.

After Leopard, Apple would go on to release Snow Leopard in 2009 for Intel Mac models only built solely for the x86/x64 architecture, making Leopard the final OS release by Apple to ever support PowerPC. Disappointingly, as Snow Leopard was designed to optimize the speed of OS X overall as a maintenance release, the maximum OS X version all G4 and G5 computers can run 10.5.8.

By the end of 2007, Apple's market share on the Macintosh had begun to significantly climb, boosted by the introduction of new products, a completed Intel transistion, and the general user perceptions of Windows Vista at that time. With Leopard, OS X finally gained full Unix certification and Leopard also helped establish the identity of OS X as a whole and as an innovative system, giving it several key features known throughout the world, such as Time Machine.

New Features

Aqua theme is revamped; the theme of the UI is now a grayscale version of Aqua, and the Apple logo is black. The search button is now just a magnifier instead of having a round circle around it; it is also black. The dock is redesigned to have a 3D look to it. Time Machine is introduced as the backup program. Boot Camp is preinstalled for installation of Windows. It can unofficially install Linux distributions; however Apple does not provide drivers for those OSes.

Release history

Version Build Date OS name Notes Download
10.5 9A581 October 26, 2007 Darwin 9.0 Original retail DVD release
10.5.1 9B18 November 15, 2007 Darwin 9.1 About the Mac OS X 10.5.1 Update; Second retail DVD release Mac OS X 10.5.1 Update
10.5.2 9C31, 9C7010 February 11, 2008 Darwin 9.2 About the Mac OS X 10.5.2 Update Mac OS X 10.5.2 Combo Update
10.5.3 9D34 May 28, 2008 Darwin 9.3 About the Mac OS X 10.5.3 Update Mac OS X 10.5.3 Update
10.5.4 9E17 June 30, 2008 Darwin 9.4 About the Mac OS X 10.5.4 update; Third retail DVD release Mac OS X 10.5.4 Update
10.5.5 9F33 September 15, 2008 Darwin 9.5 About the Mac OS X 10.5.5 Update Mac OS X 10.5.5 Update
10.5.6 9G55 December 15, 2008 Darwin 9.6 About the Mac OS X 10.5.6 Update Mac OS X 10.5.6 Update
9G66 January 6, 2009 Fourth retail DVD release (part of Mac Box Set)
10.5.7 9J61 May 12, 2009 Darwin 9.7 About the Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update
10.5.8 9L30 August 5, 2009 Darwin 9.8 About the Mac OS X 10.5.8 Update Mac OS X 10.5.8 Update
Mac OS X 10.5.8 Update Combo