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Aqua

Finder and Aqua differed considerably from OS X's OpenStep forebears, but brought a more svelte look to the Mac OS too. Icons could be rendered at up to 128 x 128 pixels - four times the size in each axis of Mac OS 9's 32 x 32 icons. It was designed to use 32-bit colour as standard.

Mac OS X Cheetah Dock

The (then) new Dock

Aqua also introduced new methods of compositing the visual components to create the combined on-screen image, resulting in the use of smoother drop shadows and curved corners, and a glossier, more arty UI.

The Mac OS X 10.0 version of Aqua used gentle stripes in the menu bar, window tops and toolbars - customisable window toolbars was an OS X introduction, as was the application Dock, an OpenStep carry-across - and throughout the OS' visuals.

Mac OS X Cheetah Menu Bar

Stripes on the menu

The stripes faded with each subsequent release, eventually vanishing for good, but other Cheetah innovations remain: a new column view for windows, an Apple menu for system-wide options, the close-minimise-fit to content 'traffic light' window controls, and a System Preferences control panel.

Mac OS X Cheetah window buttons

Apple's advice

Cheetah didn't do everything we now take from granted, though. Most Mac users now have a whole line of tiny icons at the right-hand side of their menu bars, but in the first major OS X release, date and time was pretty much it. Application and system control switches were implemented in the Dock, as "Docklings", an approach this didn't last.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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