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Operating systems software Reviews
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Apple Mac OS X 10.5.5 review

£85 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Apple Mac OS X 10.5.5 brought a slew of updates - 136MB worth in the Software Update version on our Mac - most of which were described in Apple's nicely detailed release notes.

Apple Mac OS X 10.5.5 brought a slew of updates - 136MB worth in the Software Update version on our Mac - most of which were described in Apple's nicely detailed release notes.

We've now updated several Macs, and thought we'd share our experiences with the latest OS X update - Mac OS X 10.5.5.

The Mac OS X 10.5.5 update addresses a few areas that were probably affecting many Mac users. MacBook Air users will welcome improvements in video playback and processor core idling, and iPhone users will now find that Time Machine backs up their iPhone backups.

All of us will appreciate faster Spotlight indexing, improved accuracy in handling repeating iCal events, bug fixes in Mail... and who wouldn't welcome "extensive graphics enhancements?" These are all things Apple described, of course - so just how well do these changes work, and what else changed behind the scenes that hasn't been disclosed?

First, for those sitting on the fence waiting for user reports, we're sure you'd like to know how well OS X 10.5.5 works. Our experience thus far could be best described as uneventful - and with something like an OS upgrade, that's a good thing.

We've upgraded four machines now, ranging from an aging 12in PowerBook G4 up to a Quad-core Mac Pro, and we've yet to experience so much as a hiccup.

We're certain, however, that someone out there has had issues with the update - it's almost a certainty, given the huge number and variety of Macs out there. If there's a fundamental issue in 10.5.5, though, we've yet to run across it. While Apple has occasionally had trouble with previous system updates, this one seems to be trouble-free, at least thus far.

So what else did Apple update that it didn't feel like talking about in its update notes? We noticed quite a few undocumented changes while browsing the upate's bom file (a file that lists all files installed by the installer; in 10.5, you'll find them in /Library -> Receipts -> boms). Most of these, however, are quite minor - for example, it seems that Dictionary has been given some new words, and the workflows in the PDF Services folder have been updated. Sadly, while some Automator workflows were updated (mainly those dealing with PDFs), the bug that broke the Create iCal events from anywhere hint is still present; that oh-so-useful workflow still won't work when used outside Automator in 10.5.5.

NEXT PAGE: broken hints and unnoted changes

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Apple Mac OS X 10.5.5 Leopard Expert Verdict »

Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor
512MB of memory
DVD drive for installation
9GB of available disk space
some features require a compatible Internet service provider
fees may apply
some features require Apple's .Mac service
fees apply
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Overall, OS X 10.5.5 seems like a solid mid-lifecycle product release. There are, of course, still some annoying problems we hope are fixed in 10.5.6 - the aforementioned Automator/iCal issue and the ability (which we had in 10.4) to add more columns to Spotlight's results view are the two at the top of my list. But even without these fixes, 10.5.5 brings welcome improvements to the table, and it seems to do so without any obvious downsides.

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