Section 43. Spaces

43. Spaces

Even the largest monitors can be overwhelmed with open windows.

New in Leopard, Spaces solves this problem by allowing the user to define multiple desktops. You might have one desktop for browsing and research, one for photo editing, and one for working with music and movies, with appropriate icons placed on each.

Spaces makes it easy to see all your desktops, to navigate among them by tabbing or clicking, and to drag and drop files from one desktop to another.

Applications open in any of your Spaces are also represented on the Dock; just click the icon, and you'll be transported to the related desktop automatically.

44. Time Machine

Time Machine, a new backup utility in Leopard, encourages good backup habits by making backup and restoration automaticand fun!

Using a dedicated external or network-mounted drive for storage, Time Machine creates a backup of your entire hard disk; any changes made after that point are recorded incrementally.

Using a video gamestyle interface (shown in Figure 16), you "scroll backward" into the past, before files were corrupted, deleted, edited, or lost. From there, you can restore individual files or reverse the clock completely, resetting your Mac to a saved state as far back in time as storage and settings allow.

Figure 16. With its simple but dramatic interface, Time Machine makes backing up and restoring your computer as entertaining as it can be.

45. Alex

Computers have had voices for years, but none has ever spoken with the clarity of, say, HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Alexa synthesized voice built into Leopardis changing science fiction into reality.

Unlike PC voices that tend to mispronounce words or emphasize odd syllables, Alex sounds like a human being. (Listen carefully; he even breathes between phrases!)

Alex can read from any application that supports text-to-speech. Although primarily designed to make Mac OS X more accessible to visually impaired users, Alex's voice is so clear and calming, you may opt to have him read your email to you, even if you do have 20/20 vision.

46. Automator

Resizing and renaming photos. Copying unread mail to my iPod. Boring, repetitive tasks like these used to drive me crazy. Since switching to a Mac, I turn them over to Automator.

Using a point-and-click interface, I define a series of actions (selecting files, resizing them in Photoshop, and renaming them, for example) and save it as a workflow. Workflows can be launched immediately, saved for future use, or loaded into the Control-click (or right-click) contextual menu for quick access anytimeall on-the-fly, without a scrap of programming language.

47. Smart Folders

Back in my PC days, I adored highly structured filing systems: nested folders, precise titles, strict rules. Without that kind of organization, finding files on a PC could be a real challenge.

Since switching, I use Smart Folders. They're easy to create. Within Finder (the Mac's file management system), I just click File, New Smart Folder. Then, instead of moving files around, I fill out a point-and-click form defining criteria for the Smart Folder's contents, selecting, for example, all Microsoft Word files opened within the last two weeks containing the word "switch."

Without moving the actual files, Smart Folders help me keep tabs on the documents that matterwithout making me a slave to a Byzantine filing system.