OS X Mavericks problems that drive me nuts — how about you?

OS X Mavericks has been out since October. Apple wanted to accelerate the uptake of their newest Mac operating system by offering a free update for anyone using Snow Leopard or higher. And millions of us have. Many for better, but some for worse.

Nothing is bug-free, and Mavericks is no exception. But now that it's been out in the world for a few months and already has a maintenance update under its belt, I find there are still some lingering problems that need addressing. I also did a straw poll on Twitter the other day to find out what was bugging other people. I've combined my thoughts and the feedback I got into this list of Mavericks pet peeves, and I'd very much like to hear what you think, so make sure to comment.

Continued e-mail problems and Gmail issues

Despite already having been fixed once, OS X Mavericks' Mail app is still a hot mess. The initial fix was intended to take the sting out of connecting to Gmail accounts, and indeed things did improve for some Gmail users. But many of us still aren't getting messages on time, and have to either quit the app or take Mail offline and then online again before new mail will start streaming in. Some users on Microsoft Exchange servers also report problems that they didn't have with Mountain Lion.

What's more, some Mavericks users are having other problems with Mail too — like getting the darn thing to quit (it'll hang on quit and you have to Force Quit to get it to exit).

All told, Mavericks' Mail app needs some fine tuning before it's working for everyone again.

Quick Look that isn't

Quick Look used to be a great feature that enabled you to quickly view the contents of a file without having to open an application first — you could get a sense of what is in an image, video. or text file just by pressing the space bar in Finder. Quick Look would view the image lickety-split, letting you see at a glance what was in the file.

But many Mavericks users report that Quick Look is very slow now, either taking many seconds longer to open than it used to or "beachballing" all together. It also doesn't seem to support the same file formats as Mountain Lion. Whatever the case, it's very frustrating.

The stupid power button

It used to be that if you pressed the power button your Mac, OS X would ask you if you wanted to shut down, restart or go to sleep. The default action in Mavericks changed, though, so touching the power button now causes the Mac to go to sleep right away. It's only if you hold down the power button for several seconds that you'll get the option to shut down, restart or sleep.

Our own Ally Kazmucha explains that Apple has aligned the Mac's power button to act more like the power button on iOS devices, but it's a change that I find more disruptive than beneficial.

Lingering skeuomorphism

Apple's engineers did a good job of removing skeuomorphism in iOS 7 applications. While some of the design decisions left me scratching my head — are the weird rainbow bubbles in Game Center really that much better than the felt casino tabletop? — you can't argue that at least it makes the user experience a bit more consistent and modern looking than before.

I'm convinced that Apple's UI designers simply ran out of time with Mavericks, because a few of those skeuomorphic embellishments linger — like the felt table in Game Center or the lined paper pad in Reminders. I wish Apple would get rid of them all together because they look anachronistic and patchwork.

Multi monitor support still sucks

I think it's fair to say that multi monitor support before Mavericks was crap, but I'm not altogether certain that Mavericks is a lot better. What Apple did — as a default action — was to give each monitor in Mavericks its own virtual desktop, or in OS X parlance, a Space. That's why you get your own instance of a menu and dock on each separate display.

Unfortunately, the behavior of multi monitor systems isn't entirely predictable. Users report problems with windows and folders popping up on different monitors at random, strange behavior when hooking displays up, and files or folders that occasionally disappear when dragged to the desktop.

Audio drop outs

Core Audio seems kind of screwed up in Mavericks. I get audio drop outs; sometimes no audio at all when I wake my Mac from sleep unless I restart the machine. And if you Google "Mavericks audio problems" you'll get a long list of hits from other folks who are experiencing the same issues. This isn't an insignificant issue — especially for those of us that depend on our Macs to process audio for podcasts, music production and other audio work.

Notifications can't be mapped to helper apps

Notification Center was, on one hand, greatly improved in Mavericks — you can respond to notifications on social media without being taken away from what you're doing. But if you want to get some context for what's going on, clicking on a notification will take you to the web site — Twitter, Facebook and so on.

That's fine if a web interface is all you use, but many of us prefer the added features and functionality of client software. I, for example, use Echofon for most of my Twitter interactions, since it syncs unread messages between its iOS and OS X counterparts.

There's no preference you can set and no other way that I know of to tell Mavericks to open a helper app rather than go to Safari, which inevitably means that I have to go searching for the post, reducing the usefulness of Mavericks notifications all together.

SMB problems

Service Message Block, or SMB, is a commonly used network protocol in the Windows world. SMB is quite commonly used for Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and other devices, making it a must-have for many small businesses and home networks that rely on some kind of central file storage appliance that's not a full blown file server.

Mavericks, just as with other OS X versions before it, supports the protocol. But midway through Mavericks' development, Apple decided to switch out SMB for the later SMB2 protocol (which, despite what its name implies, is not necessarily an improved version of SMB). That's has caused a lot of users to lose connections to their servers. Yo

You can fix this a couple of different ways (using "cifs://server_name" when using the Connect to Server command from the Finder (command-K) is the easiest way), but you shouldn't have to. It's broken.

Rough smooth scrolling

Mavericks changed the way scrolling worked by drawing parts of the window you haven't seen yet; the goal was more responsive scrolling. And it works in some apps. In others it's broken entirely. 10.9.1 didn't resolve problems that some users had with scrolling in some apps. Here's to hoping the next release irons things out.

Room for improvement

Like I said at the outset, I asked on Twitter for feedback about Mavericks issues. And it's safe to say I was absolutely deluged with responses. So it's quite clear that are Mac users out there that aren't entirely happy with how Mavericks is working for them, but that's not to say it's all bad.

In fact, I still recommend that most people should upgrade to Mavericks if they can, especially if they're using laptops. The improved memory efficiency and power efficiency, tabbed Finder windows, the ability to use Maps and iBooks — there's a lot to love in Mavericks, and you can't beat the price. Just make sure you back up your Mac before you upgrade, and be prepared for a few potholes, because nothing's perfect.

How about you? Have you upgraded to Mavericks? Do you love or hate it? Regret the move? Sound off in the comments.

Peter Cohen