My recent article, The reshaped Mac experience, received a lot of attention judging from the response on Twitter and the WordPress analytics — apparently, among other places, it reached Hacker News and Reddit. Unlike my four-part series Mac OS Catalina: more trouble than it’s worth, however, it didn’t attract any hate mail at all. The sheer majority of feedback I received was very positive, with many many people agreeing with me and my observations. A few — some provocatively, some genuinely curious — asked me something along the lines of, Well, if you dislike the current Big Sur UI and Mac experience, what’s an example of Mac OS UI and experience you DO like?
It’s a more than fair question, and this piece serves as an answer. When I wrote back to those who asked me, I replied Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It was sort of a gut-reply based largely on fond memories of using that Mac OS version quite extensively.
But back to my ‘gut-reply’, I wanted to be certain that my fond memories of Snow Leopard weren’t just nostalgia. While I am confident when I say that Snow Leopard is the most stable version of Mac OS, I wanted to make sure its user interface was really the good user interface and experience I was remembering. So, after a few frustrating attempts at creating a virtual machine on my current iMac with Mac OS High Sierra, I decided to install Snow Leopard on a USB flash drive, and boot my 2009 MacBook Pro (yes, it’s still alive & kicking) in Snow Leopard from that flash drive.
My first exposure to Mac OS X was with 10.3 Panther and 10.4 Tiger on the PowerMac G4 and G5 towers I used for artwork preparation and CD/DVD authoring. My first personal iMac came with 10.7 Lion, looking mostly like Snow Leopard but minus the ability to run PowerPC apps.
I really miss the Aqua interface, and user interfaces with texture and depth. 🙁