Apple’s newest OS upgrade, Mavericks (OS X 10.9.x) offers plenty of new features in addition to old standbys they’ve tweaked. OS X has become part of the app-centric world where new productivity tools, games and utilities are purchased through the App Store rather than on disc or through third-party retailers, Apple has committed to making OS X more like iOS.
In that spirit, Apple introduced features that allow Macs running Mavericks to seamlessly share key user information and other data with iOS devices, further tying users to Apple’s iWorld. Under the hood, Apple added new memory and processor features that you won’t see, but you’ll definitely notice, as they do help apps run more efficiently. While those system elements are great, the really cool features are hovering around the desktop, with some pretty obvious and others slightly hidden.
Let’s take a look at a few of these features so you can start working with them…
1. YOU ARE HERE
Mobile devices are location-centric, and apps frequently rely on your location for the best way to point you places like restaurants or gas stations. Apple introduced Location Services in OS X 10.6 Lion in keeping with the goal of merging of iOS features into the OS X. Mavericks refines the feature making it more useful, especially with the new Maps app.
Do you need every app to have access to your living room location? Probably not. While it’s a fine mobile and laptop feature, for desktop users who don’t want to be tracked by every app Apple makes it easy to turn the feature off. Simply go to the top menu bar where you’ll see an arrow icon (Location Services), click it and within that dropdown menu open privacy preferences. From there simply dictate which app has access to your location.
2. MANAGING JUICE!
Want an idea of which apps or activities are draining your laptop battery? Look no further than the battery icon in the top menu bar which drops down to reveal a list of specific apps that are using significant battery life. This makes it easier to identify and shut down apps that may be dormant yet still draining too much energy.
While this feature is for Mac laptops only, both desktop and laptop Macs have always benefited from an older feature: The Activity Monitor buried in the Utilities Folder. Apple has made it a less complicated and easier to use, and added an Energy menu button to view the energy impact of apps (and also to identify which apps are in App Sleep).
3. SYNC MAC MAPS AND iDEVICES
The Maps app is brand new with the Mavericks upgrade and moves Apple further away from dependence on other mapping programs, particularly Google’s ubiquitous service. Maps is easy to get up and running, either from the Dock or via the Launcher.
Once launched, the app works similar to the mobile app, but the key feature is syncing. Should you use the desktop version, you can bring up a map of a particular location, add driving directions, and send them to your iPhone or iPad easily using the sharing icon.
What’s that? You don’t know what Apple’s ubiquitous sharing icon looks like…? Well, it looks like this:
Tap that icon and you can then share maps via social networks, email, iMessage chat… and send directly to your iDevices. In addition, all locations you bookmark or search for will be added to all your Apple devices via your Apple ID account. This makes it even easier to map out destinations on your desktop Mac and have them immediately at the ready when going mobile via an iDevice. Pretty darn cool.
4. PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD SCREEN
If you’re a fan of those quirky Dashboard widgets (small apps designed to do basic functions and tasks), but were always forgetting about them since they were either locked in Mission Control or to the left of all other Mac desktops (keeping in mind Mission Control allows for multiple desktops).
Well, now with Mavericks you can easily swap the Dashboard screen to any location among your desktops or full screen apps and do this easily in Mission Control by clicking on the Dashboard screen and dragging it left or right.
Mission Control and Dashboard can both be fiddled with via System Preferences (Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Mission Control icon).
5. YOU’VE BEEN NOTIFIED
OS Mountain Lion saw the introduction of the Notification Center (replacing the third-party Growl app). Mavericks adds real-time Interactive Notification bubbles that appear in the upper-right. These offer web updates and While You Were Away notifications for certain apps like Mail, Facetime and Messages. You can choose to get rid of the messages, but…
You can now reply directly within the notification bubble to any Messages, emails or Facetime calls (with a message or reminder to call back via Facetime). It’s a well-hidden feature but can be managed within the System Preference panel (System Preferences -> Notifications). From here, you can choose which apps will use the Notifications system. At the moment the in-bubble reply feature works only with Messages… but, hopefully, this will soon filter down to the social network integrated features Mavericks now sports.
6. I VANT TO BE ALONE…
The Do Not Disturb feature in iOS is a favorite of mine. I use it to block certain smartphone features without turning off the phone, and to avoid notifications when I’m listening to music. Sometimes it’s nice to be alone and not constantly bugged by an iPhone. With Mavericks, the Mac now features Do Not Disturb
You can toggle the Do Not Disturb feature directly from the Notifications Center using the Trackpad for Mac. Simply swipe with two fingers from right to left to reveal the Notification Center (you can also click the notifications icon in the upper-right menu bar and get the same results). This is a hidden feature, so once in the Notifications Center simply swipe down to reveal the Do Not Disturb button and info.
7. TABBING YOUR WAY THROUGH THE FINDER
Tabs have been with Safari since its inception and did away with the mess of windows clutting the desktop. Within one window you can add as many tabs as you need easily and efficiently. Mavericks brings this feature to the Finder window (taking a cue, no doubt from Google’s browser-based, tab-centric approach to computing).
Finder tabs operate exactly like browser tabs. Open up a Finder window and from there you can either go to the menu bar (File -> New Tab) or use key commands: CMD-T to produce new tabs within the Finder window (to get rid of a tab, click CMD-W). To the right of the tabs is the + button which can also be used to add tabs (hovering over a tab will reveal a little x to the left… that can also be used to close a tab).
Christian Hokenson is a writer based in Burbank, CA. He's interested in technology, movies, and home entertainment. If you're nice to him, he might buy you ice cream.