Review : Mac OS X 10.4 - Tiger, A First Look - Pt. I

It's New, It's Hot, It's Here!

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Apple Computer, Inc.

Price: MSRP: US $129

The Good

  • Easy to install. Improved Search, Improved Web Browser and RSS capabilities.

The Bad

  • Some incompatibilities with some software.
Apple's new version of Mac OS X, Tiger, has over 200 new features that takes the Mac OS a few steps ahead of the rest of the computing world. Many of these 200 features are behind the scenes or improvements on features already available in Mac OS X. This first look is to show you a few of the cool new things you should try out first.

The Install

Mac OS X 10.4 comes on a 2.5GB DVD, so you need at least a Combo Drive to perform the install (Tiger CDs are available via Apple's site for $9.95). Apple's previous updates left us at 10.3.9 with Panther, so the system was fairly stable and trouble free. There are many opinions on what type of install you should do (Simple Upgrade, Archive and Install, or Erase and Install). I threw caution into the wind and installed the Simple Upgrade on my iBook 900mhz G3, because it is the easiest choice.

After the iBook restarted, it found most of my user information and settings and after a few registration clicks I was up and running. One thing that surprised me was the Apple ID, which handles your iTunes account, .Mac, and Apple Support, is included as part of the setup process, so have that information handy.

System Preferences and Finder

My first stop was the System Preferences panel to see if everything was set up properly. System Preferences has a new Spotlight-type search feature to help find what you are looking for faster. Simply type in a word like Internet and the Preferences that have nothing to do with the Internet dim to highlight what you are seeking. My favorite improvement is the new RSS Visualizer Screen Saver, which puts RSS feeds on your screen and allows you to click through to that web site for more info. Also, check out the iTunes screensaver, it's very cool.

Tiger Preferences picture

Tiger Spotlight in System Preferences (Click for larger picture.)

After a quick check to see if my favorite applications worked, I explored some of the new Mac OS features. The biggest Tiger buzz is about Spotlight, the new quick search feature built into the Finder. Spotlight allows you to find things more easily. It works as advertised, but resulted in a few beach balls while searching (technically known as the progress indicator). One negative item about Spotlight is that it doesn't search Entourage email. Users must convert to Apple's Mail program to use this feature or wait for Microsoft to release an update.

System Requirements

Stay tuned for MacNN's First Look at the Applications in Tiger

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor