Tiger Review: It’s great, but… 29 Apr 2005

48 comments Latest by ERE

All the new little things in Tiger (OS X 10.4) are great, but there are a few steps back.

  1. Mail is slower. The UI response time is slower. Replies are slower to quote the previous email. Window drawing is slower. I spend my whole day in Mail, and these little delays really add up. Smartfolders also don’t seem to refresh as I expected them to. You have to click on one to refresh it instead of having them refresh in the background.

  2. Window warping seems chunkier: Core graphics are great, but Expose and window minimizing seem chunkier. It feels like they’ve reduced the frame rate. Maybe I’m seeing things, but it definitely seems a little different than in Panther (and not different in a good way).

  3. Spotlight is slower than advertised — sort of: Spotlight is really great, but it’s not as great as when Jobs demos it at Macworld. Unless you have a Dual G5. I have the fastest Powerbook you can buy right now, and it’s definitely a little slower than I was expecting (but those are probably just my expectations out of wack. But still very nice and quite useful.

  4. Spotlight results jump around too much: I know you can adjust the display, but when Spotlight is returning results in the bigger Spotlight window, they jump around too much in their default configuration (Group by Kind). You see one, you go for it, and then it moves because other results are found and the page reshuffles. Because of this progressive display, it’s really only useful when it’s done. I don’t mean to nitpick this one to death, but it’s annoying.

Anyhow, I’m very very happy with Tiger overall, but I thought I’d share some annoyances since I’m sure most of the reviews will be glowing. If you have the means, the computer, and the time, go pick up a copy.

48 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Adam Michela 29 Apr 05

Good review. I won’t have a copy in my hands until tonight.

Mail sure LOOKS ugly now. No matter to me, I manage all my mail through Gmail anyway. (Run your company on web apps remember?)

This is the first review I’ve seen calling Spotlight slow and complaining of the window animations. That’s dissapointing.

Still… 6PM can’t came fast enough.

Paul 29 Apr 05

I’m really curious about your thoughts on Tiger Mail’s new weirdo UI, Jason.

DaleV 29 Apr 05

Agree with some of these comments, but it’s more the fact of high/inflated expectations with such a big release. I think some of these will be dealt with in the .01 release and such.

The BIG deal for me is the smart finder folders and smart mailboxes! Holy crap how did I live without those. (For instance: a folder that grabs the InDesign docs I have touched in the last 3 days. And one that has thumbnails of all the images I have edited in the last week … fantastic!)

Spotlight is a little funky, but if you give it a second or two, you can find some pretty amazing things that would have been tough to locate at all before.

I think the widgets will grow into a nice platform for developers.

DaleV 29 Apr 05

(Not that you asked) My thoughts on the new Mail UI are are that it’s 500% better. I hate those ‘drawers’ . . this is much better. In fact, I don’t understand why they didn’t give Safari and the others that nice interface sheen that Mail has now … much more subtle than the metal look.

Spotlight should just automatically expand to a text oval in the corner though . . I don’t like having to click on that little circle and then see the text appear below . . a little odd.

Mac User 29 Apr 05

I’m having a completely different experience on a 1.5Ghz 15” Aluminum Powerbook with 1GB of RAM.

Mail is faster than it was before, and Mail searching seems instantaneous.

How many messages do you have? I have about 1,400.

Spotlight is very fast, as fast as the demo - I wonder why it’s so slow for you.

Ben Saunders 29 Apr 05

My copy turned up yesterday. Here’s the dilemma - upgrade or fresh install?

Brennen 29 Apr 05

Biggest Spotlight annoyance:

“Top Hit” is not the default selection when performing a search. “Show All” is. This means I can’t just search and hit “return” to open if the Top Hit is correct (it usually is).

Instead, I always have to use the arrow keys to go down one item to “Top Hit,” then hit return.

In my opinion, Show All should be at the bottom of the search list, and Top hit should be the top hit.

Brad 29 Apr 05

Mine arrived around noon and it’s up and running. I did the upgrade thing rather than fresh install, and so far so good, it’s running flawlessly.

I’m not impressed with the dashboard, and none of the extra widgets available for dowloading from Apple’s site looked very interesting (plus when you click on “more widgets” you get a message saying you have to log into a secure area of Apple’s site — fortunately my .Mac id and password got me in, but I had no idea if it would or not). But maybe someone will come up with some useful widgets.

Mail’s working fine for me and the searches are zippy…I wasn’t expecting the new interface but I like it okay.

One other annoying thing: the .Mac synchronization tool. First of all it took me a while to find it — it’s in .Mac preferences in the system tools — but then it asks you whether you want to merge data from this computer with your data on .Mac, or replace the data on this computer with the data from .Mac, or replace the data on .Mac with the data on this computer. I had instructions from Apple that said you should choose “replace the data on this computer,” so that’s what I chose (I did a synch in Panther before upgrading to Tiger), and *poof* one of my iCal calendars disappeared, never to return. Grrr.

Jeremy Kemper 29 Apr 05

“I spend my whole day in Mail, and these little delays really add up.”

Likewise. How do you quickly go to the next unread message in Mail 1? Well.. you don’t!

In Thunderbird you hit ‘n’, that’s it.

The Apple forums are full of little idiosyncratic tricks and workarounds people have cobbled together to eke some efficiency out of this otherwise anemic tool.

Mail 2 should have blown us all away. What gives.

Ian 29 Apr 05

Do you think you’ll really search that much in spotlight? I haven’t searched for a document in years. Most of my stuff is in pretty clear folders or online. Maybe if I was a lawyer or something with millions of word docs or for less tech savvy users who don’t organize their files very well, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s just a feature that every good OS should have and that’s it. Nothing people should be getting excited about.

Luckily I have a dual G5 so at least it will be fast :-)

Brad 29 Apr 05

You know, one reason Mail might be slow right now is if Spotlight is still indexing your hard drive. Depending on how much stuff you’ve got on there, it could take a few hours on a PowerBook and use up a lot of system resources, making everything run slower.

Brent 29 Apr 05

Can anyone tell me if Safari 2.0 supports AJAX? TaDa lists, Google Suggest and the like stopped working with Safari 1.3 and that is given me endless frustration!!


Dr_God 29 Apr 05

Can anyone tell me if Safari 2.0 supports AJAX? TaDa lists, Google Suggest and the like stopped working with Safari 1.3

Safari 1.3 handles AJAX for me, so I think some other gremlin is causing your problems.

Adam Michela 29 Apr 05

Brent: Yes. Supposedly they’ve improved XHR support in several areas.

I’m sure all we be well as more of us developers get a chance to debug in 1.3/2.0.

shep.mckee 29 Apr 05

(Caveat � I get Tiger from Amazon on Tuesday but have used a developers build)

In regards to results in Spotlight jumping around and the difficulty in selecting your moving target - this behavior is something that I was worried about. There’s similar behavior in the Lookout plug-in for Outlook (I only use a PC for the Outlook/Exchange functionality, btw); results are returned sorted by weight as they are identified much like Spotlight, so there is jumping around here also. After playing with this behavior for months, it�s easy to see that a fix would be to sense when the user appears to be trying to select an item and pause the dynamic sorting/updating of the result set.

Ian - From someone that has used Lookout & Copernic on a PC, I predict that many people will find themselves using Spotlight more than they imagined. The speed at which results are returned will be a big factor - if the cost associated with making and refining a few queries is less than browsing for your target, people will naturally move towards more searching. Eventually they’ll realize that they have also saved the time of organizing documents in the first place. Besides not having to decide where to place a document (and there is often more than one place) your own categorizations change over time and need to be refactored. Spotlight eliminates the need for most of this. Now we can store things in a more rough/abstract manner (vs. something really specific) and let Spotlight do the rest.

adamsimms 29 Apr 05

tiger is great, im happy with it

dissapointed with safari 2.0 though… constantly crashing… and the actual app is slow ass!

3+1 video chat is CRAP!!! i just did it for the first time… check the screen shot

pb 29 Apr 05

I find the new Mail UI to be a significant improvement.

adamsimms, the screen shot looks fine. What’s the issue?

Matthew 29 Apr 05


If you want to automatically jump to “Top Hit” when using spotlight, just hold the command/apple key after your search shows up. The selection will automatically jump to that item and you can just hit enter to open that up.

Jay 29 Apr 05

Mail is considerably faster on my machine. I have an iMac G5 and have been very impressed so far. There are certainly somethings that are annoying like the spotlight listings jumping around and not being able to keep dashboard items in view (like itunes), but I am sure most of these things will be refined in later versions. Thanks for the review.

Scott M. 29 Apr 05

Wish I could upgrade, but I’ve got a bunch of drivers that need updating first, and that could take a while. Ah, well, I get stuff done just fine in 10.3.

Tim Uruski 29 Apr 05


Another thing, when holding down the Command key you can use the arrow keys to move the selection by group/type rather than by single files. Definitely handy for going through many results.

Anon 29 Apr 05

Hmm.. You must be a registered Apple Developer, since Tiger is not officially available until after 6:00 PM today.

Peter Cooper 29 Apr 05

I’m liking Mail here. On my Mac Mini it seems to be faster than the original, though not by much (when it imported, it said I have 14118 mails). Searching is significantly improved. Not very happy you can’t put the Smart Mailboxes into trees or subfolders though. Also like the new interface a lot more than the old one.

Spotlight isn’t really blowing me away. It doesn’t seem to search bookmarked RSS feeds which is lame. The new Programmer mode on Calculator is very cool. Dashboard is far too highly Americanized (no weather for UK towns, no yellow pages listings, etc). And why isn’t the Safari memory leak/devouring fixed? :) My Safari is already using 52MB and I reloaded it ten minutes ago.

Brennen 29 Apr 05

Matthew and Tim,

Thanks for the command key tip. Tiger nicely makes use of an extended keyboard shortcut language in a number of applications.

(Another example is in Safari, where in order to get the old “Save image as…” contextual menu dialogue, you have to hold both control and option when clicking on an image. Otherwise it’s just “Save to desktop.”)

Michele 30 Apr 05

After the first boot everything was slow on my PowerBook, too. But that was because Spotlight was indexing 40GB worth of data.
Indeed, after a couple of hours and a reboot everything’s faster. Actually it feels like the system is even faster than when Panther was running…I’m impressed.

Though I have to agree that Spotlight’s bouncing results are a bit annoying, but the depth of the results is great: Quicksilver is much faster, but doesn’t go so much indepth…

Paul 30 Apr 05

Jason: Do you have any antivirus software running on-access scans of your files ? A friend who installed Tiger had Mcafee running and it was slowing Mail down and made Spotlight “jumpy” as it tried to scan everything being touched.

Jamie 30 Apr 05

Jason, so is there going to be a Backpack or Basecamp Dashboard Widget coming in the near future?

Chris 30 Apr 05

For UK weather add “, United Kingdom” then press return, this will validate the location, so for Inverness, where I am type “Inverness, United Kingdom”. Also works for Canada.

raul gutierrez 30 Apr 05

1. I agree with the mail issue. I will still use entourage, but I imported my old email into mail so I can search it via spotlight. Kludgy, but it works and having access to 10 years of mail in an instant is awesome.

2. Window warping on my 1.8 G5 is better than it was in panther. in general all graphics are a bit smoother/faster.

3. I have 2 terabytes of of data connected to this machine and spotlight searches it all in a few seconds. pretty darned fast for me. I still use launchbar though for apps.

4. The spotlight hi designers should be shot. I also hate the fact that they’ve eliminated the option to search “in this folder only” in the finder. Now you have to open a search window. lame and annoying. Spotlight is sometimes overkill, often I just want to find something in a specific folder..

5. iphoto keywords are not found if the iphoto library is on an external drive. Annoying.

But in general tiger is speedy and smooth. Seems like they got rid of some system drek. I’m happy.

bryan 01 May 05

My pet hates

Dashboard - My iMAC doesnt do the cool ripple effect when adding widgets, this is because my graphics card doesnt support core image, nobody mentioned this and it makes me wonder on what else I am and will be missing out on.

Spotlight - Sometimes to powerful, I searched for Saxo to find pictures of my car and it listed a PDF document that had the word Saxophone on page 132

The Dock - Seems more succeptible to freezing in magnification.
Apple Logo- I dont like the new blue colour on the Apple Logo at the top left

andrew 01 May 05

I’m pretty pleased so far - my biggest gripe - since upgrading my Airport connection keeps going down. I run the new network diagnostics and it picks it up again - everytime. There’s a strong signal and it happens every five minutes - is this only happening to me?

Casey Gollan 01 May 05

For some reason Amazon shipped on friday and I won’t get it until tuesday. Wouldn’t they have it in stock earlier so they could ship it?

Clark 01 May 05

I find mail to be much improved. I had started using gmail instead of mail in panther as the response time were much faster. Not much need for that gmail account now.

Dashboard is crap though. Memory hungry and why is it that I have to invoke a key combination to see it. Must it be hidden all the time?

Mark 02 May 05

How’s everyones Spotlight working? I’m having a lot of trouble getting it to index much, some suggestions on the forums that there is an initial pass and then further passes to get the full metadata, but I’m getting some strange and inconsistant results.

http://discussions.info.apple.com/[email protected]@.68ac180d

beto 02 May 05

Two words: Clean Install.

Yes, it’s a major PITA and will take you a while to get back to business, but it is the best option in the long run (I don’t care how Apple and other Mac users say you don’t have to). Every time a new Mac OS comes up, I schedule a clean install way long in advance so I can have time to backup everything and reduce downtime to a minimum. So far it’s worked for me - my 13-month old install of Panther is still doing great. Now I need to get quality time to put a Tiger on my tank… eh, Mac.

bitserf 02 May 05

Spotlight seems slower than it could be. I remember Beagle (Linux) on a PC not much faster than my PowerBook being instantaneous.

You could “echo” some text into a file and it would show up in the results immediately.

jrk 04 May 05

Regarding Spotlight speed, I actually think this isn’t an issue of processor speed but of disk performance:

Laptop disks are just slow, and Apple makes a point of never even offering the highest-performance drives as an option. Hopefully the renewed focus on search performance and such will change this over time.

Unfortunately, this also means the mini will likely be dog-slow (comparatively, of course…) in Spotlight, given its 4200rpm laptop drive.

Honestly, I rather wish there were a magic option I could turn on to use some of my gig of RAM to permanently cache at least *most* of the spotlight index for my primary drive, so it could be further optimized for blazing performance.

Dan Boland 04 May 05

My impression of Tiger so far is that it hasn’t proven itself worthy of the upgrade. Granted, that opinion could change over time, but so far, other than Dashboard (which is totally awesome) and Spotlight (which is cool but something I’ll rarely use), there really isn’t that much that jumps out at me over Panther, at least not in the same way that Panther jumped out over Jaguar. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a piece of crap or anything like that, but don’t go out and buy it unless you have $129 burning a whole in your pocket.

Dan Boland 04 May 05

Oops, a hole in your pocket. =D

Kieron 09 May 05

I’m going to wait to ensure people are switching over OK before I commit to Tiger. I’ve been using a Mac for three months and I can safely say I’ll never go back to PCs. In fact, I’m thinking of starting a company and I will only be investing in macs.

I must admit I’m very happy with Panther’s performance, it’s fast and responsive and very rarely has any hiccups. It’s only crashed on me twice. My dads PC and laptop and my girlfriend’s laptop are all suffering from trojans and stupid pop ups. I have never suffered anything of the sort on this baby.

The only thing that I do need is more RAM, I am stuggling a little with that, the Beachball of Mild Annoyance arrives quite a lot, but not too much.