Tiger? Where did you go?

by Chris Howard Sep 21, 2005

Who’s still using Tiger? Well, the key new features anyway. Spotlight? Automator? Dashboard? Were there others? See I’ve forgotten. I don’t doubt at all that many people are benefiting from Tiger’s features but have they lived up to their hype? Have they outlived their hype?

Like everybody, I dived in to using all Tiger’s new features as much as possible - or trying to. But this article was inspired when I reached for my desk calculator rather than Dashboard’s. I realised I wasn’t using some of Steve’s babies anymore. So here follows a review for where I am at now with Tiger’s new features. Have a read then tell us where you’re at.

With over a thousand widgets it seems Dashboard is still quite popular - or is it just popular with widget developers? I’m over the hype. There is no widget I use regularly - I’m lucky if I use it once a week. The widget I most wanted was the calculator but its disadvantage is the figures you want to work with are often on the screen, so you have to shuffle other widgets to see what you want. Secondly, the delay in it becoming active after the Dashboard appears, is annoying.
It’s much quicker and easier to reach for my calculator on my desk - and it’s easier to use.

Other widgets I have open are:

- the converter (thank god they fixed its resource gulping problem but I still only use it rarely);
- the weather for my town (rarely use it - my chair’s right next to a window, and my day and life aren’t affected by the weather);
- the calendar (what for I don’t know. I think I’ll ditch it now. If I need to use a calendar, I need and use iCal);
- a usage meter for my ISP account (only check it late in the month)
- a daily quote (since I don’t use Dashboard often, I forget to check it)

I’m also guilty of simply forgetting Dashboard is there. Maybe I would use it’s calendar more if I remembered to. Dashboard should allow widgets to run on the desktop. Make it an option. (I know there’s a hack, but the widget floats above all windows - which is not exactly useful for something you might refer to occasionally.)

Rating: 2/5. Can live without it.

I found this still requires a bit of programming nouse to use. What’s more, if the functionality you require is not available, then you’ve got to write an Automator action. And for that you do need to know a fair bit about programming. In the early days, several things I wanted to do with Automator I couldn’t because the action wasn’t available. For example, I want to print the current web page I am on to DevonTHINK. Three clicks to do this currently. I want to create a Automator workflow to perform those three clicks for me so, as I’m browsing, I can simply hit a shortcut key assigned to that workflow. Don’t start saying “but Automator doesn’t work that way, that’s not what it does” etc etc. That’s the process I want to automate. If it can’t do that, then it’s not fully developed.
A poll on Mac OS X Hints had Automator fourth on a popularity for new or improved applications, behind Safari, Mail and Dictionary. People are finding dictionary more useful than Automator. Maybe Steve should have raved more about dictionary at WWDC 2004 and MacWorld SF. (Note, that poll didn’t include Spotlight as it was only about applications.)

Rating: 2/5. Somewhat difficult to use and still needs a lot more functionality. Can live without.

Spotlight was an early favorite of mine and the one I do still use the most. I haven’t had much call for the Smart Folders - I have one I use which shows me applications I’ve used in the last two days which is a bit better than the recent apps list.

I probably use Spotlight more than once a day. It’s become such a habit that I forget I’m using it. I use it for finding documents but just as useful is using it to find old emails in Mail. I did discover the other day though that it doesn’t index PHP files. Here’s a hint from MacOSXHints on how to get it to index them. Spotlight should include an advanced options tab, where you can select or deselect file types to be indexed as well as a button to rebuild indexes.

Another annoyance is the way in the Finder search box, it starts searching as soon as you start typing. I know, I know, that was the thing that Steve said made it so great. Problem is when you type “elephant”, it’s already searching for “el”. Now that can be a particular pain if it decides to search your whole computer. So you’ve got to try to type really fast to get in as many letters as you can before it starts searching. The way I get around this is to press the space bar first which brings up the search paths, so I can select the search path first - coz usually I just want to search the folder I’m in and Spotlight remembers the last path I searched - i.e. computer, home or current folder. Spotlight should have an option to allow changing the the wait time before it searches or the number of characters before it begins searching.

Rating: 4/5. Needs a few annoyances attended to but definitely can’t live without.

I’ll just go check the Apple site to see what else they were trumpeting about Tiger…

Safari RSS
I don’t use Safari’s RSS reader (I use NetNewsWire) because I wasn’t happy with the layout of newsfeeds in Safari - I like the traditional three-pane approach that NetNewsWire employs. But I do appreciate that Safari now integrates with third party news readers, but it’s no big deal.
Safari is the one application that slows my computer down more than any other. That said, it is when I have many sites open. But this is something that Apple need to work on. Sometimes it can take literally five minutes to switch into Safari if I have too many pages open.

Rating: 2/5 (For the RSS side of it). I don’t use as an RSS reader and could live without the integration.

Context Thesaurus/Dictionary
This is not the Dictionary application, the the context sensitive Thesaurus/Dictionary you activate with the right-click or command-click. As a writer… when don’t I use it! Regards how often I use the new features, this is the one I use the most. Thanks Apple. Could you do a grammar checker in Leopard? The Dictionary application and Dictionary widget though, I barely use.

Rating 4.5/5. Love it but sometimes lacks synonyms

Of the others: Quicktime 7 can’t say I’m aware how that’s benefited me; iChat AV the audio is somewhat ordinary so I don’t use it for that; .Mac Sync I am using the extra features for backing up other key data, so I like it; Parental Controls would be something I could use but haven’t got Tiger on the kid’s PC.

This has been my experience of Tiger’s new features. Your experience will differ and that’s why Apple put in more than one new feature. So what has been you experience of Tiger some three or four months on? What features do you use? And not use? Are there any widgets or workflows you can’t live without? Do you use Safari’s RSS reader or still a third party one? What features are do you think are merely feature bloat? What features can you not live without?


  • Sorry. murch, can’t please all the people all the time, but I do think it’s important to mix it up a bit and my aim of this article was to get people talking about their experience of Tiger, particularly did it all live up to the hype? Was it worth the Apple tax?

    Thanks, cabinet sanchez. Writer yes, editor no. Don’t know why the spellchecker missed that one. Murphy’s Law got me there. Reminds me how comedians say they never tell people what they do, else they expect them to be funny.

    nymegadaddy, was good tip except I lose it drops back onto the Dashboard the next time I go there. Do you have that prob or know a fix?

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 23, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • Chris, I fully agree with your opinion.

    I use a mac mini with 512 Mo RAM.

    * I almost never use Dashboard because it’s sooooo long to swap everything before it appears—> Dashboard is a memory eater.

    * Automator sucks: I tried to perform a simple task with it. I managed to get it roughly, but was unable to have it working PROPERLY in every cases. Then, I gave up and tried to do it with Applescript, which I had never used before. I would not say it has been easy with Applescript, but I actually made it.
    —> Automator needs more actions, more action parameters, and overall, FLOW BRANCHES.

    * The Safari RSS is indeed quite useless, and has nothing to do here. It mimics a news behaviour, with it’s “new articles”.
    I really prefer the NetNewsWire or Thunderbird way. At least, Safari should provide a mean to “delete” articles which we don’t want to see anymore, instead of deleting them only by their age.
    In fact, I would find more logical to move it into Mail.app .

    * Spotlight is also the one I’m using the most. And I would be happy too to have more control on what it is doing.

    Globs had this to say on Sep 25, 2005 Posts: 1
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