1. Computer Skills

50 Things You Probably Didn't Know About OS X Mavericks

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This post is part of a series called OS X Mavericks.
Preparing for OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Mavericks, the latest major release of OS X (pronounced Oh-Es Ten), is version 10.9 of Apple’s desktop operating system. With, reportedly, over 200 new features Mavericks is no incremental update.

Jonny Ive might suggest that “Apple has reimagined the operating system for the desktop”, but the truth is Apple has incorporated some of the best ideas from third-party developers and has sought to integrate some of the features of iOS (the operating system for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad) into it’s desktop big brother.

The Mavericks Moniker

1. The Origin of Mavericks

Apple’s OS X has a history of using big cats to denote different versions of the operating system. OS X versions 10.0 to 10.8 were named Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion, respectively.

Version 10.9 of OS X departs from the big cat monikers and, according to Apple’s Keynote at WWDC 2013, is now going with Californian place names the first of which is Mavericks.

Mavericks is a big wave surfing location in Northern California where an unusual undersea rock formation acts as a surf break that causes waves to routinely crest at over seven metres (25 feet) and top out at an incredible 24 metres (80 feet).

Mavericks is so-called after a white-haired German Shepherd who accompanied his owner Alex Matienzo with fellow surfers Jim Thompson and Dick Knottmeyer, in early March 1961, decided to try the distant waves off Pillar Point. So much for the big-cat names!


2. iBooks on the Desktop

Jordan Merrick's 'Back Up Your Mac With Time Machine' book, in iBooks on Mavericks

If you are familiar with iBooks on your iOS device, you’ll be pleased to know that iBooks is coming to OS X with Mavericks. This gives you access to in excess of 1.8 million books, from the iBooks Store, right on your desktop.

You can browse by title, author or genre. In the iBooks Store you can click to see further details, read reviews left by other readers or read a free sample of your chosen title.

With a magic touchpad, you can turn pages with a swipe, zoom in on images with a reverse-pinch and scroll quickly from cover to cover.

3. iBooks in the Cloud

iBooks in the cloudiBooks in the cloudiBooks in the cloud
It is now possible to synchronise books across devices with iBooks in the cloud

If you use multiple Apple devices, and you are an avid reader of iBooks, then iBooks in the Cloud is going to be an invaluable feature to you. On downloading an iBook in Mavericks, it will also be automatically pushed to your iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.

Furthermore, if you are reading an iBook on any device, iCloud remembers where you are. If you left off on page 19 on your Mac, you will pick up that iBook on page 19 on your iPad so you can continue reading effortlessly.

4. Studying With iBooks

iBooks can help students studyiBooks can help students studyiBooks can help students study
iBooks can help students study with annotation and highlighting aids to produce flashcards

If you use iBooks for studying, the ability to highlight important pieces of text and the ability to add notes is a feature that will be very useful. Highlighting can be done in colours of your choice to make passages stand out. The notes pane, to the left, is where you can insert notes relating to your chosen highlighted passages.

Of course, with iBooks in the Cloud, your highlights and notes are pushed to all of your devices. Take notes on your Mac and they’re available to view on your iPad, for instance.

Enhanced content – in iBooks that include interactive diagrams, photos or videos – can be viewed using gestures on your multi-touch trackpad.

5. Multiple Books

Study with more than one book at a timeStudy with more than one book at a timeStudy with more than one book at a time
iBooks allows you to study with more than one book at a time

OS X Mavericks allows you to open more than one iBook at a time. If you are studying, this allows you to read and search through each title with ease.

When you quote a passage, whilst writing an essay, iBooks will add the citation for you.


6. Apple Maps in Mavericks

Apple MapsApple MapsApple Maps
Maps is an all new app, in Mavericks, that brings Apple's mapping information to the desktop

Maps is an entirely new app for OS X and it shows that Apple is serious about its oft-maligned maps effort. Whilst the usurping of Google Maps, on iOS, as the default mapping app left many unhappy, Apple’s mapping effort does seem to be improving, albeit slowly. Bringing the same maps to OS X is a smart move to wean people off Google Maps and onto Apple’s version.

To view maps, simply launch the new Maps app and, if you have location services enabled, maps should home in on your present location.

Use the search box to find other locations and the Standard, Hybrid and Satellite buttons to change the view.

7. Flyover

Apple Maps Flyover featureApple Maps Flyover featureApple Maps Flyover feature
Apple Maps' Flyover feature uses 3D renderings taking from Apple's photographic flyover data that can be viewed from different angles. It is not satellite imagery.

Flyover is a feature of Maps that is only available, currently, for selected cities. It offers photo-realistic, three-dimensional views. You can zoom in on and around the buildings using intuitive multi-touch gestures.

Where available, Apple’s Flyover feature is much more interesting than Google’s use of satellite imagery. To view Flyover graphics, select the Satellite button or click View > Satellite.

Exactly how far Apple extends this flyover mapping remains to be seen given that they have recently been refused permission by Norway.

Perhaps we will never be able to flyover the beautiful handiwork of Slartibartfast?

8. Local Search

Local Search in Apple MapsLocal Search in Apple MapsLocal Search in Apple Maps
You can search for restaurants, points of interest, museums and all sorts of things in Apple Maps

With Maps it is easy to get information about local points of interest such as tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels. Maps displays phone numbers, photos and even Yelp reviews. This makes it a handy tool for researching places to visit and for planning holidays.

Extremely easy to use, just launch the maps app, perform a search for what you are looking for and click on each red map pin. For example, Thai restaurants in Brighton then click on any map pin to bring up a contact card with information, reviews and photos about that destination or point of interest.

9. Add Maps POI to Contacts

Add POI info to contactsAdd POI info to contactsAdd POI info to contacts
Visiting a new restaurant? You can add all their contact details to Contacts with just a click

To add a point of interest to your Contacts address book

  1. open the Maps app
  2. search for your desired point of interest
  3. click on the map pin for your point of interest
  4. click Add to Contacts

This is a fantastically quick way of adding useful contact information to which you might need to refer, later.

10. Bookmark Maps Points of Interest

Adding a bookmark in MapsAdding a bookmark in MapsAdding a bookmark in Maps
Adding a bookmark in Maps is very straightforward

To add a point of interest to your Contacts address book

  1. open the Maps app
  2. search for your desired point of interest
  3. click on the map pin for your point of interest
  4. click Add to Bookmarks

Perhaps you are going on holiday soon? This is a great way to add points of interest or places that you wish to visit in a particular region.

11. Get Directions

Getting directions in Apple MapsGetting directions in Apple MapsGetting directions in Apple Maps
Getting directions in Apple Maps is easy, and it will offer alternative routes where available.

Planning a trip has never been easier than with Apple Maps.

  1. Click on Directions
  2. If you are not starting from your current location, enter your starting point
  3. Enter your destination
  4. Click the vehicle or person to give you driving or walking directions, respectively
  5. Your directions are then listed.

12. Send Directions to iOS, iMessage and More

Send the Directions to your iPhoneSend the Directions to your iPhoneSend the Directions to your iPhone
Once you've worked out your route, on the Mac, you can send it to your iPhone or iPad

The process is similar to the steps in the previous example followed by clicking on the share to icon:

  1. Click on Directions
  2. If you are not starting from your current location, enter your starting point
  3. Enter your destination
  4. Click the vehicle or person to give you driving or walking directions, respectively
  5. Your directions are then listed.
  6. Select the Share icon (or File > Share) and then Send to [Yourname]’s iPhone.

You will then have turn-by-turn voice navigation available on your iPhone – provided you have an iPhone 4S or later running iOS 7.

13. Get Realtime Traffic Data

Realtime traffic dataRealtime traffic dataRealtime traffic data
Apple Maps is able to display realtime traffic data

Clicking on the icon of the two cars, or by selecting View > Show Traffic, you will be able to view realtime traffic information.

This is displayed as orange dots or red dashes, on congested routes, depending upon the severity of the congestion.

Other important traffic infomation is also displayed. Icons for Events, Roadwords and Accidents – denoted by a yellow warning triangle, and orange roadworks sign and a red square, respectively – can be clicked upon to reveal further information.

14. Map Scale

Map ScaleMap ScaleMap Scale
The Apple Maps mapping scale

Maps just aren’t proper maps without a scale to give a sense of proportion. Whilst not turned on by default, Apple’s Maps app can show you the distance scale when you click on View > Show Scale.

The units of the scale adjust automatically as you zoom in or out of the map view.


15. New Sidebar

The Safari sidebarThe Safari sidebarThe Safari sidebar
The Safari sidebar

Safari incorporates redesigned Bookmarks handling into a sidebar that also incorporates Reading List and Shared Links, to the left of the main browser.

Accessible through the Bookmarks Book icon, this sidebar shows shared links, posted by people you follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.

16. Top Sites

Safari topsitesSafari topsitesSafari topsites
Safari topsites

Accessible through the grid of squares icon, Safari’s Top Sites has been redesigned to make the pinning, organisation and deletion of frequently visited sites an awful lot easier than it is in OS X Mountain Lion. Coverflow has gone.

Hover over a webpage image to reveal an icon, in the top-left, that allows you to pin or delete the website from Top Sites. To reorder the sides, simply click with the mouse, hold and drag to your desired order.

17. Speed

There are also unique advancements under the hood. Safari 7.0, in Mavericks, uses Nitro Tiered JIT (Nitro is Apple’s Javascript engine, and the Tiered Just In Time compiler efficiently decides how best code should be executed in webpages) and Fast Start technologies to make the web pages you visit feel snappier and more responsive.

18. Battery Life

Apple claims that Safari 7.0 is significantly faster than Chrome and Firefox and is also more more memory efficient and uses less CPU energy than its competitors.

Safari doesn’t waste energy on web pages in the background or plug-in content you don’t want to see. Processor and battery intensive process, such as Flash animations, will be suspended in tabs that are not in view.


Formerly known as iCal, prior to OS X Lion, Calendar has been a staple of OS X from the beginning. It’s lost the leather, stitching and torn-paper skeuomorphic elements in favour of a much simpler, cleaner look and the functionality has been enhanced, too.

19. Change Meeting Name, Location and Time

Calendar in MavericksCalendar in MavericksCalendar in Mavericks
Calendar in Mavericks

It is now possible to change the name and location and amend the dates and times of meetings without the need to open up the event to edit it. Simply tap on your event to reveal a pop-up window and tap on the name, location or time to amend them.

20. Add Meeting Invitees

Calendar InvitesCalendar InvitesCalendar Invites
Adding invitees to Calendar events

In the same manner as changing the name, location and time, it is possible to quickly add invitees to an existing event. Again, click on the event to edit easily.

21. Add Meeting Notes, Attachments or URL

Adding important info to Calendar EventAdding important info to Calendar EventAdding important info to Calendar Event
Adding important information, to Calendar events, is simple

Adding meeting notes, attachments or a URL is easy, too. Tap the event to reveal the quick-edit window

iCloud Keychain

Setting up iCloud KeychainSetting up iCloud KeychainSetting up iCloud Keychain
Setting up iCloud Keychain

If you are a power-user, you are probably familiar with 1Password. A long-time favourite of Mac aficionados, this password-syncing service is essential.

Such functionality is now available baked into Mavericks, which is great news for anyone with an interest in computer security. It brings improved password habits to the masses.

22. Secure Password Generation

iCloud Keychain password suggestionsiCloud Keychain password suggestionsiCloud Keychain password suggestions
iCloud Keychain password suggestions

A new password generator suggests unique and hard-to-guess passwords for your online accounts. Apple uses robust 256-bit AES encryption to keep your passwords secure.

23. Autofill Credit Card Info

Autofill credit card informationAutofill credit card informationAutofill credit card information
iCloud Keychain will remember your credit card information so that you can autofill forms from then on (not CVV code)

iCloud Keychain can also be used to remember your credit card credentials, thus making online shopping a breeze. Your security is not compromised, though, as you will still need the CVV (Card Verification Value) – the three digit number from the reverse of your credit card – in order to proceed with any transactions.

24. Synchronise Across Devices

iCloud Keychain doesn’t just remember your passwords, it can create them, too, then synchronise them across all of your Apple devices. Both OS X and iOS.

Multiple Displays

Since full-screen app functionality was introduced in OS X 10.7 Lion, the ability to efficiently employ multiple screens has been broken.

25. Menu Bars and Docks

The Menu Bar appears on each displayThe Menu Bar appears on each displayThe Menu Bar appears on each display
The Menu Bar appears on each display when running multiple displays

Finally, Apple has fixed how multiple displays are handled by removing the primary and secondary distinction, between displays.

Now each display has its own menu bar, which is always there, and the dock is available on whichever screen you are working at the time.

26. Full Screen Apps Done Properly

iBooks running in full screen modeiBooks running in full screen modeiBooks running in full screen mode
iBooks running in full screen mode

If you use multiple displays in OS X 10.7 Lion or 10.8 Mountain Lion, you will be familiar with the awkward behaviour of full screen apps in that making any app run full screen will blank out and remove functionality from the second display.

In OS X 10.9 Mavericks this has been fixed. You can now use any combination of full screen apps and desktops running multiple apps. For example:

  • Both displays can run multiple apps on desktops
  • One display can run a full screen app whilst the other runs multiple apps on a desktop
  • Both displays can run different full screen apps

27. Mission Control

Mission ControlMission ControlMission Control
Mission Control will now show the desktops and apps running on each of your displays

Mission Control gives you an overview of the apps and desktops running on your Mac. In conjunction with multiple displays, Mission Control will now show the desktops and apps running on each of your displays.

You can then drag and drop apps from any of the desktops to another and even to a desktop on the other display.

28. AirPlay Display

AirPlay DisplayAirPlay DisplayAirPlay Display
Mirror your screen or extend to a new desktop on your television, via an Apple TV, with AirPlay Display

If you have an Apple TV, then the new AirPlay Display feature allows you to either mirror or extend your desktop to your television.

AirPlay Display turns any HDTV (connected to an Apple TV, of course) into a fully functional, wireless display for your Mac. This could be especially useful for business presentations or watching films, from your Mac, on your normal television.


Notifications first appeared in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and integrated similar functionality that could only previously be enjoyed by installing a third-party app called Growl.

29. Interactive Notifications

Reply from notificationReply from notificationReply from notification
In Mavericks you can reply straight from the notification without needing to open the app

Mavericks builds upon Notofications with interactivity that allows you to reply to a message, respond to a FaceTime call or delete an email all immediately from the Notification and without the need to open the corresponding app.

30. Website Update Notifications

Notifications has been updated to allow you to receive updates from your favourite websites. This might be breaking news, auction updates, sports scores or something else.

Your notifications will keep on coming, even if Safari is not running on your Mac at the time.

31. Whilst You Were Away Notifications

Notifications Whilst you were awayNotifications Whilst you were awayNotifications Whilst you were away
Notifications Whilst you were away

They’re the digital equivalent of whilst you were away notes that your colleagues leave on your desk. Notifications will pop up messages, on the lock screen, to tell you how many new emails you have received, how many iMessages have come in, how many FaceTime calls you have missed, and so on.

Of course, this could be a privacy issue so it can disabled on an app by app basis. Visit System Preferences > Notifications and then select the desired behaviour of each app by unticking the preference for notifications for that app to appear on the lock screen.

Finder Tabs

During the course of your normal workflow, it is sometimes necessary to open more than one Finder window to navigate your way around the filesystem. Beyond two Finder windows and this can become difficult to manage, especially amongst the windows for other apps.

32. One Finder Window, Multiple Finder Tabs

Finder TabsFinder TabsFinder Tabs
Having multiple tabs, in Finder, makes things somewhat more manageable

Finder Tabs solves this, in Mavericks, by borrowing the idea of tabs such as you may be familiar from web browsers.

This means that you can have one Finder window with multiple tabs, each navigating to a different part of the filesystem. You can even drag and drop files between tabs.


Using TagsUsing TagsUsing Tags
Using Tags when saving a document

Tags is a new way of filtering and finding stuff. Tags are added to documents, even those stored in iCloud. Tag files, with appropriate tags, when you save them. Click on the appri

33. Tags in Finder

Tag files in FinderTag files in FinderTag files in Finder
Tag files in Finder with different names and colours - handy to keep track of project files

You’ll find Tags in the Finder sidebar. The tags are named as colours, by default, but can be renamed to something more appropriate to you. To assign a tag to any document, secondary-click that document and assign a tag.

34. Tags in Apps

You can assign tags when you save a document. Along with the name for your document and the location to which to save it, tags can be added before clicking the Save button.

35. Tags in iCloud

Tags in iCloud is particularly useful for documents stored in different iCloud libraries. For instance, you might have a Numbers Spreadsheet, a Pages document and a Keynote presentation all for a particular project.

By assigning a tag for that project, all of these documents can be assigned the project tag to group them together in that project. This makes it easier to find all the resources for a given project and view them all in a single Finder window.

36. Filter by Tags

Any document can have more than one tag assigned to it. For example, if I have telephone bills for both my home and work iPhones, I could assign all of them with the tag “Bills”, all of the home iPhone bills with “Personal” and the work iPhone bills with “Work”.

To find all of my work iPhone Bills, I could search for the tags “Bills” and “Work”. This would then not list my personal iPhone bills.

Advanced Technologies

Advanced Technologies is the name that Apple is giving to a number of under-the-bonnet improvements to the OS X operating system. Advanced Technologies improve battery efficiency meaning that you can work for longer. They boost performance to bring you greater responsiveness and speed in using the OS.

37. Timer Coalescing

This is a means of grouping low-level operatiosn together with the effect of creating many small periods of time where the CPU remains idle. With the CPU in a low-power state less energy is consumed and, therefore, the battery lasts longer.

Apple claims that CPU activity can be reduced by up to 72 per cent with Timer Coalescing, and that it happens so fast that you will not notice any difference in performance.

38. App Nap

App NapApp NapApp Nap
App Nap is designed to conserve energy by slowing down any app that is completely obscured by another app window

If you are anything like me, you will have many different app windows open whilst working on your Mac. App Nap is designed to conserve energy by slowing down any app that is completely obscured by another app window …provided that app is not already doing something that you want it to, such as playing music, downloading files or checking email.

When you switch back to the slowed-down app, it snaps back to full speed instantly. Apple claims that App Nap can reduce CPU energy usage by up to 23 per cent.

39. Safari Power Saver

If you have followed the fortunes of Apple for any length of time, you are probably familiar with Steve Jobs’ downer on Adobe Flash. To be fair to Jobs, Flash is particularly power-hungry which is why it was not included in iOS.

Flash no longer comes installed, by default, in OS X, but you are free to install it yourself. If you have a MacBook Pro, Flash is going to impact your daily battery life.

OS Mavericks cleverly recognises the difference between the content that you want to view, that that’s front and centre, and the content that you perhaps don’t want to, as it is in the margins. Mavericks gives you a static preview that you may click to play if you wish to view it. This way, precious battery energy is conserved by not automatically playing needless animations.

40. iTunes HD Playback Efficiency

The energy efficiency of playing HD video – in full screen, on your MacBook Pro – has been enhanced in OS X Mavericks. The video playback software employs the efficient graphics hardware in your Mac to reduce the need for disc activity.

Apple claims that, “even audio playback is more efficient. Altogether, your CPU will use up to 35 per cent less energy while you’re watching video.”

41. Compressed Memory

We’ve all known, for a long time, that more memory is better and the faster your Mac will run. This is because there will be less requirement for writing to and reading from the hard disc – sometimes known as scratch space or virtual memory.

With running multiple apps, the physical memory can become used very quickly. OS Mavericks Compressed Memory allows your Mac to free up memory by seamlessly compressing data from inactive apps.

Apple claims that compression and decompression happens almost instantaneously. Responsiveness under load is purported to be 1.4 times faster and wake from Standby some one and a half times faster.

Internet Accounts

OS X Mountain Lion already allows for integration with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with Flickr and Vimeo if you have them. Mavericks is going all grown-up by introducing integration with LinkedIn, the largest professional social network with in excess of 230 million users.

42. LinkedIn

Adding LinkedInAdding LinkedInAdding LinkedIn
Adding LinkedIn in Internet Accounts

To set up your LinkedIn account on OS X Mavericks:

  1. Click on the Apple symbol at the top-left of the menu bar
  2. Select System Preferences in the drop-down menu
  3. Select Internet Accounts – second along on the third row of icons
  4. Select LinkedIn
  5. Enter your User Name and Password for your LinkedIn account

Activity Monitor

Located in Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor, Activity Monitor has been redesigned for Mavericks with the tabs being moved up to the toolbar. Disk Usage and Disk Activity have been consolidated into a single tab.

43. Energy

A new tab within Activity Monitor, Energy has been added to detail the energy consumption impact of each app that is running

A new tab within Activity Monitor, Energy has been added to detail the energy consumption impact of each app that is running, along with any apps that are currently enjoying an app nap.


44. Captions

OS X Mavericks introduces greater support for captions to assist the deaf and the hard of hearing

OS X Mavericks introduces greater support for captions to assist the deaf and the hard of hearing. Closed Captions are automatically provided where they are available.

Default, Classic and Large Text caption styles are provided along with the ability to define your own. The Captions option can be found in System Preferences > Accessibility

45. Switch Control

Switch ControlSwitch ControlSwitch Control
Switch Control is an assistive technology that is particularly useful to any person with impaired mobility or motor problems.

Switch Control is an assistive technology that enables control an interface through one or more buttons. This is particularly useful to any person with impaired mobility or motor problems.

Switches can be mouse, keyboard or gamepad devices as well as dedicated buttons. This opens the way for more gaming device options with OS X, perhaps.


Dicatation has been available, in OS X, since 10.8 Mountain Lion. The way in which dication works is to send your speech to Apple’s servers to be translated into text.

46. Enhanced Dication

Enhanced dictationEnhanced dictationEnhanced dictation
Enhanced dictation is a 491MB download for offline dictation functionality

Enhanced Dication can be enabled at System Preferences > Dicatation & Speech. It provides the ability for offline dictation which was previously not possible. It also allows for continuous dictation with live feedback.

It’s a modest (in today’s terms) 491MB download that saves OS X having to constantly report back to Apple’s own servers in order to translate any speech to text.

Mac App Store

Here are four more changes, to OS X Mavericks, that might not immediately be apparent when you upgrade.

47. Automatic App Updates

Mac App Store PreferencesMac App Store PreferencesMac App Store Preferences
The Mac App Store Preference pane

A new preference pane, located at System Preferences > App Store, allows you to customise the behaviour of the Mac App Store along the lines of what you may be familiar with in iOS.

By default, OS X Mavericks will now check for app updates, for software purchased through the Mac App Store, and will automatically download them in the background. You will then be notified when the updates are ready to be installed.

48. Automatic App Installations

Within the new App Store preference pane, located at System Preferences > App Store, you can now opt-in to having the downloaded app updates automatically installed for you.

This will also automatically install system data files and security updates to ensure that your Mac always has the latest level of protection and is totally up-to-date from Apple.

49. Automatically Install Apps Across Macs

This is a feature that has been available in iOS for a little while and is one that would benefit anyone who owns and uses more than one Mac.

Navigating to System Preferences > App Store you can now opt to have all new app purchases downloaded and installed automatically on your other Mac(s).

Battery Information

50. Enhanced Battery Status Information

Battery statusBattery statusBattery status
The battery status menu bar app will show any apps using significant amounts of energy

Enhanced battery status information is available in the battery drop-down menu from the menu bar. To first enable this menu bar item, navigate to System Preferences > Energy Saver and tick the Show battery status in menu bar option.

Now, when you click on the battery symbol, on the menu bar, any energy-hungry apps will be listed as using a significant amount of enery.


The headline features of OS X Mavericks are iBooks and Maps and are the changes that most will notice. A tabbed Finder will make the app much easier to use and tags gives greater control over managing files and documents.

Many changes are behind the scenes with a lot of attention being paid to technologies that will help to enhance the battery life of MacBooks Air and Pro.

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