Panther – What’s new?

As I have used Panther, here are some things I noticed that are new to those of using OS X for awhile:


Delete files system owns: You can now select a folder you don’t own (say system owns it) and delete it in the Finder. The finder will ask for your admin password. This is the Unix equivalent of sudo rm -rf ./

Built in Zip: You can now zip files using the Finder’s contextual menu. Control/Right click on a file or folder and choose Archive… The Finder also encodes Mac files so they decode properly.

I archived a jpeg photo that I added a resource icon to with Graphic Converter and moved it to my PC, then unzipped it. What Panther does is encode the resource fork (and other meta data) into a folder named __MacOSX Inside there is a file for every file in the folder, with the filename prefixed with ._ So yes, you can unzip Mac archives on windows and the users will get the data fork (jpeg) files normally!

So I then made sure I had a data fork only jpeg image and archived that. I then unarchived it on Windows. You still get the __MACOSX folder but it is empty. Too bad Apple could not optimize out that folder if it was not needed.

I also took a 587 megabyte disk image and did some tests against Aladdin’s DropZip 7.0.3 and Stuffit Expander 7.0.3:

Finder9m 14s1m 30s
DropZip25m 54sN/A
Stuffit ExpanderN/A5m 25s


Exposé is Apple’s cool new window management tool. Once you have used it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Those engineers deserve a year’s bonus pay.

Anyhow, it is great, just press F9, F10 and F11 to see it in action. F11 is the most useful for those of us who download to the Desktop. If you chat a lot, say with iChat, F10 is super nice. Hear a bleep that someone messaged you, but their window is occluded? F10 to the rescue. And the windows update live while Exposed, too.

Yes, you can use mouse buttons and screen corners – I happen to prefer the F-Keys.


Panther is much faster. Disk access is faster. Applications launch faster. The User Interface is snappier. Everything is faster. Even help is fast – It is usable for the first time! RAM helps too – When I was importing 2 gigabytes of email into, I was using a lot of virtual memory (my G4 has 896 megs of ram) and you could see the performance hit. Once that was done and I quit mail, it freed up the VM and the machine became super speedy once again.


Mail is much improved in Panther. I was able to import over 597,000 messages into Mail with one crash. I was trying to do the import over the network and I think it didn’t like that. Once I moved the email (2 gigabytes worth) to the local drive, the import went fine. About 14 hours to import. I did lose the unread status of all mail. Every message came in as unread.

Mail is much faster. Very zippy looking up address names and deleting messages.

The new threading is very nice, allowing you to see threads of conversation grouped together, instead of sparsely laid out in the mail list. You can toggle this behavior.

Addresses now become these cool objects that you can easily select to delete or move around. If you want to edit them, just click the little triangle and choose Edit. This is really cool, as it turns a textual representation of a person into a real object.

Searching in mail is pretty quick. Not as fast as Eudora 6, but fast enough. Searching all 597,000 emails for “lmgetm” in Eudora took 1m 45s, wheras in Mail it took 3m 33s. I rarely search all 600K emails though, so the extra time is not an issue.

The mail (on disk) for Eudora was 1.9gb. The size was the same for The indexing (which took 24 hours) added only 350mb to the size. Not bad at all!

Mail will now show the picture of the user you are emailing if there is one in your address book.

Mail now allows you to load images for HTML email if you turn off HTML loading by default, so be sure to uses the Viewing preferences to disable HTML. You want to do this so spammers cannot track you. You can then load images for known, good HTML email.

Mail now has a “Send Again” option under the Message menu!


If you happen to use Classic, open up the System Preferences, choose the Classic panel and check the box to show the Classic status in the menu. This is cool. You can now easily start and stop classic without opening the System Preferences.


Info Drawer: The tabbed palette of the old iCal is gone and is replaced with a really slick drawer. Inside the drawer you can set the calendar, item text, alarms (more than one), repeating schedule, etc. The repeat is nice – If you choose custom, you get an integrated modal dialog to set the event up, which fades away when done.

The one thing about the drawer that iCal does wrong is that it does not resize the window if the window is too wide. This means if you have iCal zoomed to fit your screen, choosing “Show Info” does nothing, as the drawer is offscreen.

Alarms: The alarms in iCal are much improved. When an alarm goes off, you are given buttons to dismiss it, snooze it or find it in iCal. If more than one alarm goes off, you get a scrolling list of alarms, vs. multiple dialogs.

Address Book

The Address Book brought some much needed changes. You can now specify a card as a company with a simple checkbox. You can easily add friends and spouse fiends for example. There are preferences to control how phone numbers are formatted (yay!) and even a new privacy option that when turned on for your card, allows you to check off which fields you do or do no want exported when you send someone your vCard.

File Vault

File Vault is Apple’s answer to us powerbook users who have sensitive data on their laptops. File Vault can be used on a home machine as well, but it is more useful on the road.

Even though you have a password on your laptop, if your laptop is stolen, the thief can remove the hard disk from your laptop and attach it to a new computer, thus accessing all of your files. File Vault counters this by encrypting every bit of data in your home folder.

This means as you read and write files, they are decrypted and encrypted on the fly. You can only do your entire home folder, which is a bit of a bummer – I’d like to specify a list of folders, including those on my keychain drive, to keep encrypted. Maybe in a later version?

When you set up File Vault using the Security System Preference, you must specify a master password. This is nice, especially if you have multiple users or are a consultant setting up a client’s machine. This “backdoor” password allows you to decrypt the data should someone forget their password. Forget the user password and the master password and your data is gone, forever.

File Vault seems to encrypt into a new file system and then after verification, replaces your old data with the encrypted data. This is good news should something fail during encryption.

Apple System Profiler

Apple System Profiler is now simply called “System Profiler” and is still located in /Applications/Utilities/


The console is an application in /Applications/Utilities/ that lets you see the logs applications print messages into. Now there is a really nice “Logs” button that can show you all logs, such as crash reports, system logs, etc, and especially cool, delete logs. No more hunting for them on your disk!

Activity Viewer

The new Activity Viewer is incredible. You can see a pie chart of memory use, or a CPU usage graph over time. You can sample an application that is sucking up CPU time and send that report to the developer, helping them figure out what is wrong. Activity Viewer is your friend when your machine seems really slow.

Application Crashes

Now when an application crashes, you are given a chance to send a crash report to Apple. Yay! Maybe they will be able to fix OS bugs faster now or at least report to developers with very buggy applications.