Snow Leopard is the code name for the operating system Mac OS X version 10.6 developed by Apple. Its predecessor was Mac OS X v10.5, code-named Leopard. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs first announced Snow Leopard at WWDC on June 8, 2008.

Snow Leopard shipped on August 28, 2009[2] and in the USA, an upgrade will be available for existing Intel-based Macintosh computers for $29 (£25/€29/¥3300), or up to five computers with the family pack at $49 (£39/€49/¥5600). For a qualifying computer bought after June 8, 2009, the upgrade will cost $10 (with proof of purchase).

While operating system releases usually pack a lot of highly visible changes, the upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard has more changes under the hood than ones users will see.

Comparison chart

Leopard (Mac OS X) versus Snow Leopard (Mac OS X) comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartLeopard (Mac OS X)Snow Leopard (Mac OS X)
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License APSL and Apple EULA APSL and Apple EULA
Introduction (from Wikipedia) Mac OS X version 10.5 "Leopard" is the 6th major release of Mac OS X, Apple’s desktop and server operating system for Macintosh computers. Leopard was released on 26 Oct 2007, and was available in 2 variants: a desktop version and a server version. Mac OS X 10.6 (also known as Snow Leopard) is the seventh major release of Mac OS X.
Source model Closed source (with open source components) Closed source (with open source components)
Kernel type Hybrid kernel 32-bit or 64-bit Hybrid kernel
Update method Apple Software Update Apple Software Update
Platform support x86, x86-64, PowerPC x86, x86-64
Release date 26 October 2007 August 28, 2009
Current version 10.5.8 (9L30) (August 5, 2009) 10.6.8 (as of November 21 2013)
Native support for Microsoft Exchange No Yes
WiFi signal strength No Yes
Sortable search results No Yes
Native Cisco VPN support No Yes
PDF annotation capability using Preview No Yes
Compatible with Aperture Yes Yes (new version released)

System Requirements for Snow Leopard vs Leopard

Speed and Performance in Snow Leopard

Apple has made operating system components faster with Snow Leopard. Performance improvements include

Refinements to the user interface in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

There was no major overhaul of the existing Leopard interface when Apple introduced Snow Leopard. Minor UI refinements include:

New Features in Snow Leopard vs OS X Leopard

Support for Microsoft Exchange

Mac OS X Snow Leopard includes out-of-the-box support for connecting to Microsoft Exchange 2007 servers for access through Mail, Address Book, and iCal. Neither Microsoft Windows nor older versions of Mac OS X included this feature.

64-bit addressing

Mac OS X Snow Leopard and most Mac OS 10.6 built-in applications have been rebuilt to leverage the 64-bit addressing space (excluding iTunes, Front Row, Grapher and DVD Player applications), since Apple has started shipping each Mac as a 64-bit system. Snow Leopard supports up to 16 terabytes of RAM.

Grand Central Dispatch in OS X v10.6

Grand Central Dispatch utilizes multiple processor cores for more efficient performance. Due to the technical difficulties involved in making multi-core-optimized applications, the majority of applications do not effectively utilize multiple processor cores. As a result, processing power often goes unused. Grand Central Dispatch includes APIs to help programmers efficiently use these cores for parallel programming.


Introduced in Snow Leopard, OpenCL (Open Computing Language) addresses the power of graphics processing units to leverage them in any application, and not just for graphics-intensive applications like 3D games. OpenCL automatically optimizes for the kind of graphics processor in the Mac, adjusting itself to the available processing power.

QuickTime X

In Mac OS X v10.6, Apple has redesigned the QuickTime user interface to resemble the existing QuickTime full-screen view, where the entire window plays only the video and all controls including the title bar fade in and out as needed.

QuickTime X supports HTTP live streaming. Thus, QuickTime X streams audio and video using any web server instead of a special streaming server, and it works reliably with common firewall and wireless router settings.

QuickTime X uses Mac OS X technologies such as Cocoa, Grand Central Dispatch, and 64-bit computing to deliver higher performance and enables QuickTime Player to launch up to 2.8x faster than QuickTime. QuickTime X also takes advantage of ColorSync to provide high-quality color reproduction.

There is a "Send to YouTube" command built in when you play movies. Users can also record their screen activity as a movie.


CUPS (the printing system in Mac OS X and Linux) has been updated to version 1.4 which provides improved driver, networking, and Kerberos support along with many performance improvements. CUPS 1.4 is also the first implementation of the Internet Printing Protocol version 2.1.


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