Now you're talking. If you want to see dilated pupils and sweaty palms, just say "graphics" to any Mac OS X junkie.
Yes, graphics is one of the big deals with Mac OS X, thanks to its sophisticated Quartz graphics-processing technology. Everywhere you look in Mac OS X, you'll find visual effects that would make any other operating system think about early retirement.
For example: Menus are slightly transparent, and when you release them, they fade away instead of snapping off; you can set Excel 3-D graphs to be slightly transparent, so that they don't block other bars in 3-D graph; when you paste files into windows in icon view, their icons fade into view; when you open an especially long message in Mail, its text fades in from white; when you open a widget in Dashboard, it splashes down with a pond-ripple effect; and, of course, when you switch accounts using Fast User Switching, your work environment slides off the screen as though it's pasted on the side of an animated cube.
All of these visual goodies owe their existence to Quartz (or its enhanced successor, Quartz Extreme, which is not available on older Macs).
Mac OS X understands dozens of Mac and Windows graphics file formats. Better yet, its Preview program can open such graphics and then export them in a different format, making it an excellent file-conversion program.
You can confidently double-click graphics files—from a digital camera, scanner, or a Web download, for example—in ...