It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Mac OS X was released. I wasn’t a Mac user in 2001, but as a tech fan, I followed the release of OS X and the later switch to Intel closely, which was what finally convinced me to buy my first iMac.
Today, with Mac OS X gone and Intel chipsets not far behind, I thought it would be fun to look back at OS X and the transition to it compared to the recent switch to macOS 11 Big Sur. I started by watching Steve Jobs’ introduction of Mac OS X at Macworld Expo in 2000, which was a perilous time for the Mac. The company was just two and a half years into Jobs’ return as iCEO and had recently filled out its simplified product grid, adding the iBook to the iMac, Power Mac G4, and PowerBook lineup.
John Siracusa writes on Hypercritical about the new Mac utility he just released in partnership with Lee Fyock. Following the release of macOS Catalina and its lack of support for 32-bit apps, such as DragThing, Siracusa needed a new solution for restoring a classic Mac OS behavior that he didn’t want to lose.
In classic, when you click on a window that belongs to an application that’s not currently active, all the windows that belong to that application come to the front. In Mac OS X (and macOS), only the window that you clicked comes to the front.
I tried to get used to it, but I could not.
Front and Center is the name of Siracusa and Fyock’s creation. It’s a tiny app that re-enables the classic behavior mentioned above, while also providing the option of using shift-click to engage the modern default of selecting the clicked window only. With Front and Center, long-time Mac users can have both the classic Mac OS behavior they enjoy, and the benefits of macOS’ modern approach, all at once.
Front and Center is available on the Mac App Store for $2.99.
If you’ve followed Apple for any length of time, you’ve no doubt encountered someone reminiscing about Mac OS X Snow Leopard or wondering whether the time was right for some products’ ’Snow Leopard’ moment. Snow Leopard, which was released in 2009, has become synonymous with a software release focused on stability and bug fixes instead of new features.
Michael Steeber at 9to5Mac takes an in-depth look at the legend behind Snow Leopard and questions whether it’s deserved. As Steeber notes, Snow Leopard was marketed as having no new features, but it was far from bug-free. Nonetheless, the release’s marketing message, a general perception that the quality of Apple’s software declined in subsequent years, and other factors, have led to Snow Leopard’s mythological status. As Steeber puts it:
…a kernel of truth persists underneath the mythology. Improvements to iOS and macOS, no matter how small, contribute to a better experience for everyone. Fixing bugs might not be as marketable as shiny new Animoji or a fresh design, but maintenance can only be deferred so long. If Apple can knock stability out of the park in 2018, maybe the legend of Snow Leopard can finally be put to rest.
I suspect Snow Leopard’s reputation, which has become conventional wisdom at this point, will persist regardless of what happens this year. Still, it’s instructive to see how we got to this point and worth noting for the next time a similar meme circulates.
Enthusiasts of all types always have that one special obsession. For muscle car people, maybe it’s one particular year of Ford Mustang. Photographers always have a favorite lens, while baseball players may have a favored bat or glove.
Ask almost any macOS fan, and they’ll tell you that Snow Leopard is their favorite version of all time.
There are a bunch of good reasons for that, beyond pure nostalgia.