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Snow Leopard System Preferences: Internet & Wireless

There are many new features and tweaks in Snow Leopard and this is the third of a four-part look at the changes that have been made to System Preferences. Go to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select System Preferences. The System Preferences is where you can configure the look and feel, options and settings for OS X. It is divided into four sections - Personal, Hardware, Internet & Wireless, and System. (You may have a fifth section for other applications that you install yourself, but we're just looking at OS X here.)

In this part the focus is on the items in the Internet & Wireless section. It used to be called Internet & Network and the name has been changed in Snow Leopard.


Go to MobileMe and what you see there will obvously depend on whether you have a MobileMe account or not. If you have, you won't find any changes on the Account tab apart from a rewritten description at the top. The text in Snow Leopard is shorter and less descriptive for some strange reason. The Sync tab is the same as Leopard too.

Changes have been made to the iDisk tab though. In Leopard you can choose to allow others to have read-only or read and write access to your iDisk public folder, but in Snow Leopard there is a single tick box to allow others to write to your iDisk public folder. The only thing that has changed here is the wording and the effect of the options is the same. The Leopard version is clearer though because Snow Leopard's option implies read-only access when write access is unticked, whereas Leopard actually states it.

iDisk Sync can be automatic or manual, but again Snow Leopard has changed the way this is selected for no apparent reason. It's not better, it's just different. An extra option has been added to the iDisk Sync and you can choose to always keep the most recent version of a file. This is a method for resolving conflicts when you sync two or more Macs and the file with the most recent time and date stamp will replace any identically named file. It seems a good idea, although it makes you wonder what would happen if this wasn't ticked. Does it mean that an older file can overwrite a newer one?

The Back to My Mac tab has one extra button and this is to open the Energy Saver preference pane. This is so that you can set an option that enables Back to My Mac to wake a Mac in sleep mode (you must be using a network with Time Capsule or compatible AirPort base station). This is useful because you can put the Mac to sleep, yet still have access to it if necessary.


Click the network icon in System Preferences and you won't see anything new in Snow Leopard that wasn't in old Leopard. However, if you then click the Advanced button to configure a connection you will see some new options. On the AirPort tab in Leopard there was a single option to require administrator password to control AirPort. Now there are three options and these give give a finer degree of control over what can and can't be done by users and apps without requiring the admin password to be entered. You can chose to require an admin password to create computer-to-computer networks, change networks, and turn AirPort on or off.

Another welcome change is that when you show the AirPort status in the menu bar and click it, the drop-down list of networks it finds have a strength indicator. It would have been better to show numbers, such as a signal strength percentage rather than the graphic, but it's better than nothing, as was the case in Leopard.


QuickTime has gone from System Preferences. Of course, QuickTime hasn't been removed from the system and it has been upgraded from QuickTime 7 to 10. In other words, you get all the features of QuickTime Pro. Run QuickTime Player from the Applications folder to access it. It now features movie recording, audio recording and screen recording.


Bluetooth in Snow Leopard's System Preferences looks the same and functions the same as it did in Leopard. There don't appear to be any changes to it.



Sharing enables you to let other computers access your Mac, devices that are attached to it like printers, DVD-Rom drives, or services like the internet. The list of items in Sharing is exactly the same as it is in Leopard except for one new addition: Scanner Sharing. If you have a scanner and you enable this option then other people on the local area network can access the scanner that is attached to your Mac.

Part 1: System Preferences - Personal section
Part 2: System Preferences - Hardware section
Part 3: System Preferences - Internet & Wireless section
Part 4: System Preferences - System section

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