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Is it safe to upgrade to Apple's new Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" right away?

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

Apple's new Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" sounds fantastic. Is it safe to upgrade to it right away?

In a word, maybe.

Leopard offers several breakthrough features for folks like us, including:

  • Automatic incremental backups via Time Machine
  • Remote desktop viewing and control via iChat
  • Sharing any folder across a network
  • System-wide font auto-activation

For a guided tour of the vast improvements in Leopard, check out Apple's guided tour at

However, here's one limitation to be VERY aware of: Leopard doesn't support the Classic environment, so if you're running QuarkXPress 5 or earlier (or any other application that won't run natively in Mac OS X) you won't be able to run those apps -- maybe ever again. I suggest keeping an older Mac around that can run Mac OS 9, because you just KNOW you're going to need it sometime.

Apple's own applications should run flawlessly in Leopard. And it seems that other developers have had sufficient time with Leopard to update their simpler applications and utilities.

But the Big Boys aren't quite as sure. Adobe warns that they haven't fully tested Creative Suite 3 with Leopard (Creative Suite 2 may never be tested -- other than in the trenches by users like us). Quark thinks that QuarkXPress 7.3 is fine in Leopard but is ready to release an update if users have trouble (but there's no word on QuarkXPress 6.5, which is in a situation similar to Adobe's Creative Suite 2).

And then there are font managers, plug-ins, and all the rest that we rely on for our daily workflow. Extensis Suitcase Fusion is compatible, but Insider Software hasn't announced if FontAgent Pro is. Disk utilities such as DiskWarrior and TechTool Pro will need updating before they're ready for Leopard. That in itself may be enough to cause you to wait. And then there's the wildly (and justifiably) popular FileMaker database application, which also isn't yet compatible.

So my advice is to wait until your most important tools clearly work in Leopard. Keep an eye on the compatibility reports at and That's certainly what I'll be doing.

And when you're ready to take the plunge, do yourself a favor and spend $10 for Joe Kissell's ebook "Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard" at If you follow his advice, you'll have a trouble-free upgrade experience.

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail, or go to their website:

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