OS X Mavericks review

Over the course of the past decade, we've seen many changes to OS X - some iterative, some significant. OS X's newest incarnation, "Mavericks" or version 10.9, is a bit of both. It doesn't significantly rework the user interface like Apple did with iOS 7, though there are some nice tweaks. Apple did make a number of changes under the hood to improve performance and efficiency, however, especially for mobile users.

Note: Some of this material was originally published in our Mavericks preview but was incomplete and outdated due to Apple's non-disclosure agreement (NDA). It's been fully updated, expanded upon, and refined here into our full on OS X review. Enjoy!

OS X evolution

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It's been a long road to get here. Mac OS X was first introduced as a public beta in 2001, and beta it was - a radical departure from Mac OS 9, both in look (introducing the "Aqua" interface) and in operation. Mac OS X was built on a UNIX foundation, and was more closely related to the NextStep operating system that had been developed by NeXT, the computing company Steve Jobs founded between stints running Apple.

Over the years Apple has iteratively improved OS X, typically waiting until a major release before introducing major new features, capabilities and applications. Early on Apple cranked out changes to OS X on an annual basis, but once the company hit Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther," it slowed down, changing to a biannual upgrade cycle.

Apple wasn't standing still between those upgrades, either. By 2005 the PowerPC chip that had served as the basis for Macs throughout the 90s was pushing its limits. Fortunately, hedged its bets, and had been working to keep OS X operating on Intel hardware as well. And so Apple was able to migrate successfully to a different microprocessor architecture without having to start over at square one.

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Since then Apple's stayed the course, and with the introduction of Mountain Lion in 10.8, made it clear that it was resuming its annual upgrade cycle again, to iterative make changes to the operating system to keep up with new technology and user expectations. And that brings us to today and the launch of OS X 10.9 "Mavericks," the first installment of the operating system not to carry a big cat's name.

To that end, Apple has run out of big cats to name their operating system. So starting with Mavericks, they've switched to a nomenclature based on places in California, Apple's home state - places that Apple says its employees draw their inspiration from.

Mavericks is actually a surfing spot in Northern California, not too far from Half Moon Bay. That's a local spot for Apple employees, to be sure - it's in San Mateo County, only about 30 miles from Apple's corporate headquarters.

Compatibility and updating

OS X Mavericks comes pre-installed on the new Macs introduced on Tuesday's Apple Event. It's also available as a downloadable update for free from the Mac App Store.

Mavericks works on any 64-bit capable Mac (with 64-bit EFI). Supported models include:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Installing Mavericks will require a Mac running OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7 or later with the Mac App Store installed. You don't need to have Lion or Mountain Lion installed to upgrade.

OS X Mavericks interface updates make an easy, productive transition

How to reset Launchpad in Mavericks

How to reset Launchpad in Mavericks

Tabbed Web browsing has been a staple of Safari for a number of years - instead of cluttering up your desktop with more windows, hit Command-T to create a tab, instead. It's neatly consolidated inside your existing Safari window but gives you an entirely separate Web page to work from. When you're multitasking or if you need to compare information on different pages, tabbed web pages are a great time saver.

The same basic concept has been employed for Finder Tabs. Instead of creating multiple windows to clutter your desktop, everything stays in one window instead. You can create different Finder Tabs to keep track of anything you'd use a Finder window for - documents or specific folders you're using, AirDrop, the Desktop and more.

In fairness, Finder tabs have been the domain of third-party utilities for some time, but that requires that users install a separate program to enable the capability. This brings that feature to the masses once and for all.

You've been able to assign color labels to Mac files since time immemorial, but tagging is new to Mavericks. It's another big time saver, and it will help you instantly find files and folders you're looking for - not just for local files on your Mac, but for stuff you've stored in iCloud, too.

Tagging lets you attach metadata to your files to make them easier to find - color tags, of course, but also specific keywords that will help you locate things later. You can use descriptive words - "home," "work," "important," "contract" - whatever you might need - then use those tags to find content later. If you lose documents in folders inside of folders nested like Russian matryoshka dolls, this may be a better way for you to find what you need later. What's more, tagging is supported in save dialogues, so you can add tags when you first create files.

OS X Mavericks brings iPad-style iBooks to the Mac - only better

Apple's ebook reader software, iBooks, was first introduced when the iPad debuted in April 2010 and later became available for other iOS devices with iOS 4's release. It's never been essential software - Apple offers it as an optional free download from the App Store rather than including it with every shipping iOS device - but it's an obvious killer app, especially for the iPad.

Now it's come to the Mac, and it's largely unchanged from before. All of the features you're already familiar with from iBooks are present: you can search, you can bookmark pages, adjust font and type size, even switch page color from white to sepia or to night mode, which inverts the color scheme to white type on black pages (less intrusive if you're lying in bed next to someone who's trying to sleep). There's also a scrolling function if you'd prefer not to have to manually flip pages using the mouse, trackpad or keyboard.

You can do things with iBooks on the Mac that you can't on the iPad or iPhone, however. You can have multiple books open simultaneously, for example. Need to compare or contrast source material from two different textbooks? No problem. Mavericks' iBooks lets you highlight passages and attach notes - a feature you can find in the iOS version too - but rather than burying the notes as popups that run in the margin of the book, a Notes pane that runs along one side of the page. This makes it much easier to refer to notes you've added or attached as parts of highlighted sections.

iBooks in Mavericks syncs with iBooks in iOS, so you'll see the same library selections. And you can import PDFs and ePub books, too.

OS X Mavericks Maps help you - and other apps - find your way

Maps in Mavericks looks and acts very much like its iOS counterpart. In fact, it uses the same datasets. The difference is in the size of the screen you're looking at it on, the speed of the network you're downloading data from (Wi-Fi, versus whatever your cell service provider has available), and the rendering power of the computer behind it.

The three of those things combined make Maps on Mavericks a real pleasure to use. When you zoom in to an area, it very quickly renders and populates with points of interest, and it's lightning-fast to respond to search queries too.

Opening the Maps application should look instantly familiar to anyone who's used it on iOS. You can pinpoint your location, look at your surrounds in a 2D view, switch to 3D if you prefer, or combine satellite and 3D imagery to use the "Flyover" feature Apple pioneered in iOS 6, where cityscapes are rendered in photo-realistic 3D.

A Search field lets you find specific addresses, but it can be also used to find points of interest. So if you want to locate a restaurant, museum or shop near you, enter whatever info you're looking to search on and Maps will try to locate something nearby.

Once you've plotted the location of your destination, You can add it to your Bookmarks list (synced between the maps apps of any other OS X or iOS devices connected through iCloud), get directions or add it to your Contacts database.

Like Maps on iOS, Maps for Mavericks provides point to point directions, and will show you real-time traffic conditions. If traffic's bad, Maps can suggest alternate routes. Once you've got your route plotted out, you can send them in a message, e-mail the information, post it to Twitter or Facebook if you've connected those services, add it to Contacts, bookmark it, or send it to your iPhone.

Maps also introduces some much-welcome support for mapping functions into other applications. Take Calendar, for example: Now when you type in an address for a new appointment, Calendar uses that map data to locate the address, show you a thumbnail map (which opens the Maps app) and can even pad your schedule with travel time.

Maps illustrates a couple of very important points that Apple isn't stating directly but wants to underscore. One is that Maps integrates really well into other Mavericks apps, like Contacts and Calendar. Presumably, there will be other ways to integrate that connectivity into other apps, too, because like iOS Maps, Maps in Mavericks doesn't directly support mass transit travel information.

Secondly, Maps does its best to erase the division between iOS and OS X. You can send map data to your phone, for example. And bookmarking a map in the Maps app will sync that bookmark to the Maps app on any other device, iOS or OS X, connected via iCloud.

Apple's also publishing a Map Kit API for third-party app developers who want to integrate Maps data into their own applications. They've even provided a very handy example of how this works with the reworked Calendar app, which lets you plot travel time and embed directions.

OS X Mavericks debuts a familiar-looking Calendar

While Mavericks doesn't have the top-to-bottom flat interface makeover that iOS got when iOS 7 debuted (one can only imagine the howls of outrage from Mac users if such a thing had happened), there are some improvements to reduce the evidence of "skeuomorphism" in Mavericks app design. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Mavericks Calendar app, which is very similar to what we see in iOS 7.

The familiar deskpad interface with its torn margin is gone, and it its place is a sleek and simple design that Apple calls "streamlined."

From the top down, the next obvious change is the placement of the navigation buttons and the date - they've been reversed in weekly, monthly, and yearly views, to give you a clearer visual cue to show what time period you're looking at.

Also gone is the one pixel-wide table grid that's used in Mountain Lion's Calendar for Week, Month and Year layouts. Days in Mavericks are instead separated with white space, with a one-pixel border to separate them vertically. The net result is a cleaner, less cluttered look.

Continuous scrolling is a new feature in Mavericks Calendar. In the monthly view, this means that you can scroll vertically from week to week (the current week gets a colored horizontal line across the top to help you return to it quickly; you can also just click the Today button). In Mountain Lion Calendar, you can horizontally scroll, in weekly or daily views. The scrolling in daily mode is abrupt, replacing each day's events as you scroll; weekly will snap to the next week's events. Now it's smoother and more continuous.

The new look and feel of Calendar will be a welcome change for users who are increasingly accustomed to gesture-based controls for all aspects of the OS X interface, but Calendar gets some really functional enhancements, too. The Inspector is where you'll see the greatest changes. Calendar's Inspector now ties into that data to provide you with a small map showing your meeting location. That's only a thumbnail, though, so if you need walking or driving directions, you can click on the image and the Maps app will automatically open and plot the way.

OS X Mavericks lets you connect to your Facebook account, and if you've said yes to events you've learned about through Facebook, they'll be displayed on a separate Facebook Events calendar.

OS X Mavericks Notifications become interactive - do more with less effort

For years, Mac users who wanted to consolidate notifications from various applications had to rely on third-party apps like Growl to get the job done. That changed in 2012 when Apple rolled out Mountain Lion, which incorporated the iOS-like Notification Center for the first time.

But Apple's implementation of system-wide notifications was sorely lacking: while it provides you with regular status updates through pop up windows and collects them all in a sidebar you can view using a trackpad or mouse gesture, Mountain Lion notifications don't provide any sort of interactivity. So when a tweet comes your way you want to respond to, you still have to open your Twitter application and do it yourself.

Mavericks is taking a big step in the right direction by offering one-click interactivity with notifications. Now when a notification pops up from e-mail, Messages or FaceTime, you can respond without breaking stride in whatever you're doing.

Apple's doing more than that, however - they're bridging connectivity between iOS and OS X Mavericks. So if you have an app running on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that sends you Push Notifications, you can now get those Push Notifications on the Mac.

Notifications also rounds up your alerts when your Mac is asleep, so when you wake your computer you'll get a list of all notifications that have happened directly from your Lock Screen. If you're concerned about people spying stuff they shouldn't see from your Mac's Lock Screen, worry not. The Notifications system preference pane remains in place in Mavericks, now with additional features, like the ability to customize whether an app will show notifications when the display is asleep or locked.

Apple's also published a spec that Web developers can use on their own sites, which make it possible for you to get push notifications from the site just as if it were an app running locally on your Mac. This is great for news hounds and others who want to stay up to the minute with breaking information on web sites. It'll be interesting to see how wide spread it gets used.

OS X Mavericks Safari speeds up and gets more social

Calendar isn't the only app to lose some real-world imitation. The pseudo-3D gallery interface for Top Sites is gone in the new Safari, replaced with a flatter look that complements Apple's new flat design philosophy. There are some functional changes, as well - you can add sites from your bookmarks, and you can rearrange top sites by clicking and dragging thumbnails around.

A new plus button has been added to Safari's toolbar, which provides one-click bookmarking. And a new Sidebar interface consolidates bookmarks and your reading list, making it easier to locate links you'd like to follow. Web pages you've marked to visit in your reading list will now scroll consecutively, so as you finish one web page, another one will load automatically.

A third tab is added to the new Sidebar called Shared Links, and that provides a social component that's new to Safari: links shared by people you follow on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also retweet links you're visiting directly in Safari.

Apple's worked hard to make JavaScript on Safari run faster than Chrome or Firefox, while improving memory efficiency over both those alternative browsers as well. What's more, Safari uses the CPU much more efficiently than the competition, as well, so you won't burn through battery charge quite as quick as you might with other browsers.

All told, Safari is faster, more efficient and easier to use than before - and instantly familiar to millions of Mac users who depend on it for their everyday web use.

OS X Mavericks new iCloud Keychain feature fixes web password management once and for all

You need secure login credentials to be able to engage in e-commerce and other online activities, but keeping passwords straight can stump even the most advanced computer user. At best, you forget and need to reset your password every time you visit an infrequently-accessed site. At worst, you end up using an insecure password that opens you up to identity theft and other modern problems. Apple's fix for this is iCloud Keychain.

Apple's taking the tried and true functionality of the Keychain utility that's already in the OS, and moving it to iCloud. iCloud Keychain remember AirPort passwords, for example. Web-based passwords are now front and center in iCloud Keychain. Safari will help you generate secure passwords that you don't have to remember - iCloud Keychain fills them in for you whenever they're needed.

iCloud Keychain also retains credit card information, so you don't have to haul your card out from your wallet (or commit its number to memory) to place an online order anymore. The only piece of information you will have to remember is the security code that's imprinted on the back side of your card.

Apple doesn't want your keychain info to get into the wrong hands, so that data is heavily encrypted. Additionally, Mavericks will really push you to lock down your Mac with a password that needs to be entered when your system wakes from sleep, to make sure you're really you. And iCloud Keychain works between iOS and OS X (provided you've updated to iOS 7.0.3 or later).

I can't help but wonder if a Touch ID technology is in development for the Mac. After using it on the iPhone 5s, I'd love to see iCloud Keychain on the Mac paired with a fingerprint reader - it'd make life a lot more convenient.

OS X Mavericks finally gets multiple displays working the way they should

Apple's 2011 release of Lion introduced "full screen" mode for apps, which messed up the Mac's long-standing ability to display multiple screens at once. Going full-screen would reduce one monitor to displaying a pattern while the other one showed the app in edge-to-edge glory. Don't even get me started on Spaces in Lion - that was a tooth-grindingly irritating endeavor.

Now, with Mavericks, when you go full-screen on one monitor the app will, predictably, take over the display. But the second monitor is unencumbered. You can go full-screen with another app on that one, or just use it in regular windowed mode if you prefer. Also, each monitor can have its own menu bar. That's a big advantage that you've never been able to do in OS X before without using third-party software. Less moving the mouse from screen to screen, finally!

Mission Control, OS X's built in window management utility, now shows you an overview of what's running on each display. And you can easily rearrange the location of apps on each display by clicking on its thumbnail and dragging it to a new screen.

AirPlay Mirroring is great if you have an Apple TV connected and it's visible to your Mac over Wi-Fi, but Mavericks takes it a step further: now you can use your TV as an entirely independent display.

All told, multiple monitor systems finally work the way they're supposed to with Mavericks.

The Dock is available in any screen to screen - so if you move your cursor to the bottom of the screen (or wherever you've designated the Dock to appear), the Dock will be available.

OS X Mavericks brings major boosts to efficiency, for Mac users on the go

There are certainly some nice changes to Mavericks to make it easier to use and more functional, but that's only scratching the surface of what Apple has changed here. Because the real meat of Mavericks' changes are under the hood. They're things you'll never see, but they're significant improvements to efficiency that will help your laptop battery last longer than before.

Timer Coalescing is a practical example. A mainstay of Windows for a while, Timer Coalescing helps keep your laptop's battery working longer by putting the processor to sleep whenever it can - and when I say "whenever," I mean in the split milliseconds when it's not doing anything else.

In the space of a few seconds, your CPU will spike in activity many times. This is not only because of the applications you're running, but also because of all the other housekeeping tasks needed to keep OS X up and running. In between those moments, your Mac's CPU enters an idle state, where it's not doing much of anything.

To wake from that idle state requires power, and using power means the battery of your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro won't last as long. Timer Coalescing changes that by grouping together those operations, so instead of constantly flickering between an idle state and operation, the CPU stays idle longer. It may only stay idle for a fraction of a second, compared to a few milliseconds, but over minutes and hours, that idle state adds up. The net result is that your Mac's CPU uses less power. A lot less power.

App Nap is another great battery booster. Sometimes in the course of your day, you'll open one, two, three, half a dozen Mac apps without thinking about it. If you have lots of RAM installed on your Mac and you're not working from battery power, this can be no big deal - but every little bit helps when you have to manage resources like power and CPU activity. OS X Maverick's built-in App Nap function helps better manage what's going on when you have a bunch of apps open.

App Nap automatically slows apps down unless they're being used at that particular moment. As soon as you bring the app front and center, bringing that window forward, App Nap speeds right back up as if nothing's happened.

If there's one thing that can absolutely kill your Mac laptop's battery, it's a runaway Flash process. Load up web pages with Flash objects and you can hear your fans whir up to top speed as they try to cool off the processor, which chomps through your battery reserves at a terrifying rate.

Outside of using a Flash blocker - or not installing Flash to begin with - Mavericks takes a more measured approach. Unless you're give Safari permission, it doesn't arbitrarily load Flash content on a web page anymore. Instead, Safari displays a static preview with a graphic laid on top that says, "Click to Start Flash plug-in." Once you've told it to use Flash, Safari goes ahead and loads the content. Otherwise, the Flash content is paused.

Finally, Mavericks employs some very nifty memory compression technology to help get more from less. If you open a lot of applications, or if some of your apps need a lot of memory, your Mac will slow down. Way down. That's because your Mac runs out of physical RAM to allocate. OS X isn't in the habit of saying no, though, so what it does is create a swap file that gets written to your Mac's hard disk. That swap file contains the contents of inactive memory. Reading from that swap file and writing to it takes time, and that slows the Mac down.

Apple has ameliorated some of the effects of swap memory in machines like the MacBook Air, which uses flash storage instead of a conventional hard drive. The MacBook Air has pretty limited amounts of RAM compared to other Macs but can still run a number of applications simultaneously quicker than Macs with conventional hard drives, thanks to the speed of flash storage. And newer MacBook Airs can go even faster, with speedy PCIe-based storage.

Not all Macs have flash storage, however. And even solid state drives have their limits. The speed of SATA and PCIe interfaces are less than the direct path between the CPU and the installed RAM, creating a bottleneck.

Mavericks' memory compression technology takes a different approach here. It looks at apps and proceses that are running, and may be sitting in memory but not actually using memory. Mavericks figures out which processes are active and which are inactive. It then compresses the memory that the inactive applications have allocated, which frees up more RAM. That keeps your Mac from having to write content out to and read from swap files.

This doesn't have any direct benefit on battery life, but it makes a big difference when you're doing things like waking your Mac from sleep, for example - that happens half again as fast as it did with Mountain Lion. Systems under load are faster, documents open quicker, and inactive applications start up faster than they did with Mountain Lion. These are tangible improvements that make a Mac running Mavericks feel snappier than ever before.

OS X Mavericks bottom line

Apple is in a completely different place with Mavericks than it had to be with iOS 6 - iOS 6 was tired-looking, and it was bursting at the seams with changes that were long overdue. Mavericks, by comparison, takes a finely honed operating system and makes it even better than it was.

That's not to say that Mountain Lion was perfect (Mavericks isn't either). But all of the enhancements to Mavericks in this release, from the new apps to the changes to the Finder to under the hood details that improve efficiency and performance, all just make sense. It moves Mavericks in the right direction, and makes the Mac iteratively better than before.

Whether or not some of the functionality of this new release will pay off for Apple still remains to be seen. Web site push notifications, for example, are entirely dependent on support from web developers, who can be a very finicky bunch. And iCloud Keychain's promise of of set-it-and-forget-it is very appealing, iOS 7 is only now just getting the feature.

There are a lot of very compelling reasons to download and install Mavericks, from the obvious - the new Maps and iBooks apps, a new and improved Safari, and tabbed Finder windows and tagging - to the not-so-obvious, like Timer Coalescing and App Nap.

The bottom line is that if you're interested in seeing your Mac work more efficiently and seeing yourself work more efficiently, Mavericks will help you catch the perfect wave.

Peter Cohen
  • Great Article Peter ... John Malloy The Canadian Daily .ca
  • My Uncle Cooper recently got a nearly new blue Mercedes C-Class AMG just by some part time working online with a lap-top... visit here... http://smal.ly/8wUo2
  • Tell me more about this 'So if you have an app running on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that sends you Push Notifications, you can now get those Push Notifications on the Mac'. I don't get what this feature is.
  • I assume it would mean that if you have notifications ON for any app on those devices (like Words with Friends or something), that when WWF sends out a notification to your devices, it will now send one to your mac too, assuming you're signed into the same iCloud account.
  • I was wondering this myself. I think this feature was announced at WWDC, which allows notifications that would normally only show up on your iDevice to also show up on your Mac. However I haven't seen this behavior after installing Mavericks and iOS 7.0.3. I'm assuming this feature was dropped sometime during the development cycles.
  • Our first iMore OS X review! So happy!
  • Peter, you have duplicated paragraphs under "OS X Mavericks interface updates..." section.
  • D'oh! Thanks! Fixed.
  • Hahaha! I had just woken up and thought I was experiencing deja vu when I read that. Twice.
  • You nailed it Peter!
  • Nice write up Peter.
  • Very informative job, Peter. Thanks!
  • Wow! Very impressive and thorough write-up, Peter! I really enjoyed reading that :)
  • The article is incorrect ... it will not run on any 64bit Mac. It does not run on the first gen Mac Pros (Pre-2008) which also couldn't run Mountain Lion. The macs with a graphic card swap could be hacked to run mountain lion however - so not sure about any possible hacks for it.
  • The first gen Mac Pro is something of an anomaly. It's a 64-bit processor, but it uses 32-bit EFI.
  • Great article.
  • "...each monitor can have its own menu bar." No, you mean each monitor MUST have its own menu bar. I say so because I can't find a way to turn the damned thing off. I don't need or want multiple menu bars, but Apple either decided to hide the preference really well, or the decision has been made to put menu bars everywhere for everyone. I'm liking Mavericks in general, but losing the ability to span windows across screens — something we've had since the 80s — is a huge step backward. And the multiple menus thing is ridiculous. Make it an Accessibility feature for those with delicate wrists, maybe.
  • For anyone who was as dismayed as I was about the default settings vis a vis multiple monitors, there is apparently a (hidden!) solution. Go to Settings > Mission Control and un-tick the "Displays have separate Spaces" setting. I haven't logged out yet, but I'm hoping this restores OS X to the way it should be. (Why isn't anyone publicizing this?)
  • Did changing that setting worked? I am also very bothered by the two changes you mentioned.
  • Yes, ticking that single box made everything go back to normal -- at least the way I've always had it before. :)
  • I have the reverse problem. I want shared spaces (old spaces behaviour), but want a menu bar on each display. Why does Apple always do this shit and make features mutually exclusive for no god damn reason.
  • Yeah, I don't see why they couldn't just make these things decoupled options. Then again, they do tend to guess first, then iterate. Wouldn't write them off yet.
  • >>Wonder how many folks WORLDWIDE were downloading Maverick yesterday alone.<< Saw on Twitter that Mavericks was at a 7% global adoption in the first 24 hours...
  • Unfortunately the app I was waiting for, iBooks , is broken and doesn't sync correctly with iPad. Only books from iTunes seem to show. So all my PDF files and collections are missing from my iMac!
  • Have been running Mavericks for a few weeks now, and I'd say that it's definitely more responsive than Mountain Lion on my ancient mid-2007 iMac (1st gen aluminum, 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM.) Subjectively, the performance of individual apps on ML felt sluggish in comparison. But running several resource hog apps at once on Mavericks does bog the whole system down. Running Safari with 6 or 7 tabs, plus Mail, plus iTunes (playing one of the iMore podcasts of course) plus Xcode can really drag performance down to a crawl. It feels like Mountain Lion handled total system resource management better, but Mavericks handles individual app resource management better. This would tend to make apps feel "snappier" when the system isn't loaded heavily. All subjective of course. It feels like each app gets more physical RAM when it's in the foreground, which forces other apps' contexts to be swapped out of memory and saved to disk by the virtual memory system. Running a bunch of memory-intensive apps could cause "thrashing," which means that the system is swapping programs and data back and forth between RAM and disk so much that each app gets little actual work done. And yes, the dreaded "beach ball" shows up when this happens. Of course, on a modern Mac with 8GB or more RAM, a modern CPU, and a Fusion Drive or SSD, you might never even notice all of this. But on older Macs, it really feels like Mavericks is thrashing more than Mountain Lion under heavy multi-app loading.
  • Thanks for the review! I've noticed something a bit funny: when I use airplay in "extended desktop" mode to create a second display for my macbook, I expect to have access to my dock. However, no matter where I move my mouse, I'm not seeing the dock. I've tried moving the dock around on my macbook's display to see if that would have any effect, but not luck. Is the dock just not available through airplay when in extended desktop mode, or is it just me? Thanks!
  • Its a tedious task to move the dock from screen to screen, but your dock will only show up on one screen at a time. I would suggest removing the hiding feature in system preferences to find it.
  • Apparently, it only works if you have your dock on the bottom.
  • Great post, thanks for clearing up the performance boosts mavericks get.
    I have used Snow Leopard for a while, been meaning to upgrade but couldn't see the benefits of Lion.
    Sure hope the power optimization will give my Air more endurance on the go.
  • "Mavericks works on any 64-bit capable Mac." Wrong! It has to be an Intel Mac with a 64-bit processor AND a 64-bit EFI. PPC 64-bit G5's and Intel 64-bit Macs with a 32-bit EFI do not work!
  • Thanks for pointing that out, I've updated it.
  • Sorry, iCloud keychain is a non-starter for me as I use a lot of my time at home on my PC. I don't want to go to my banking site and remember some complex password iCloud generated for me. Have it work in IE and I'll sign up that second.
  • Consider using LastPass. Works cross-platform and cross-browser.
  • Still no mass transit for maps? Uh - that's what I find the most useful for Googlemaps when I'm in a new city. Rather glaring omission doncha think?
  • +1000 I mean who needs a map app that can only plan one destination at a time ?
  • What a great review! I'm a little disappointed that they didn't update reminders.
  • agreed. it would seem like an easy update (since they did update notes)....
  • Peter, great article. It took me awhile to read it completely. Totally worth it.
  • Wonder if other UK users have noticed a problem logging into Tesco Bank since Mavericks upgrade?
  • Yep - been trying to log on today with no joy. Even changed my password. So just fired up the old G5 running OSX 10.4.11 (too old for mavericks) and it works fine, so can only assume that maverick is the problem as it has been fine before.
  • Good article. Any way I can sync my google calendar with Mavericks calendar. I tried this and after what seems like trying to connect for a while, I get a could not establish secure connection error. Anyone know how I can sync google calendar to the Mac calendar. I have a mid-2008 MBP running Mavericks. Or if you can point me to an article that works, I'd be happy to try.
  • Good article! Great review! My friend upgraded on his Macbook Pro and he's said he's loved it! Fingers crossed my University will upgrade to this in all their iMac computer Labs!
  • I am a student and absolutely loved the face that I could highlight any text anywhere on my macbook and have text to speech read it to me. But now with Mavericks, that function (with the short cut Option+Esc) no longer works in Pages. I can still operate speech but have to do so from the menu bar.. the shortcut no longer works :(
  • Thanks Peter. Great work. I read this a few days but didn't get a chance to thank you. :) .
    Mavericks works on any 64-bit capable Mac (with 64-bit EFI). Supported models include: iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
    Microsoft and gang would kill themselves if they could ever let people to install their latest and greatest on anything less than 2 years old PC!
  • Something quite upsetting has happened to my bookmarks. I took the new "software update"- is that Maverick? I'm not sure why, but I seem to be locked out of hundreds of my bookmarks! I am desperate. I need to get at that information for my work. Today, right now. This is an emergency. Was it the new software update? Am I doing this wrong? Please tell me I am!  I put all my new bookmarks in one main folder- hundreds of them. But when I open that folder now, all I see are my last few bookmarks- I have hundreds more. I need to see them for my work. Another thing. As a writer I deal in information, old and new, & need to review all my information at once- quickly scan the page to find what I need. The old, single page arrangement lets me see -I don't know, I'm guessing maybe a hundred at a time? two hundred? And in seconds I can scroll to the hundred above. This skinny little web bar doesn't even scratch the surface of what I have (or at one time). Is there a way to condense it, to see a hundred at a time again? Plus I can't see their full titles- or their web addresses, which I also need to scan quickly to help me figure out what I need. Is there a way to expand to full-page? Also I don't see folders- I have an absolutely enormous number. Plus I need to know where the folders fit into the rest, both chronologically & as similar topics. Back to my other problem, even if I could see a hundred things, it starts with the oldest first- I'd be scrolling forever to the last thing bookmarked. (But starting with the newest seems backwards- confusing.) Someone said to uncheck 'displays have separate spaces' in mission control- I don't know if that would help me- besides, my mission control on mountain lion doesn't give me that option. I don't know if 'displays have separate spaces' would help me- anyway it's not in my mission control on mountain lion.
    How can I get to my missing bookmarks? Am I doing this wrong? In fact how do I get rid of this feature; or is there a professional who can?  And who do I call to give my voice to complain? I don't know what I'm going to do without those bookmarks, I need them for my work. Right now. (As well as being unable to see everything at once.)
  • I'm answering my own question because I can't figure out how to delete it. After a long time searching the web I saw it was the new Safari download 6.1 problem. A mostly satisfactory answer is to select "Edit bookmarks" under Bookmarks; then to get back to web select 'hide bookmark editor.' To put a bookmark into a sidebar folder, click the little book icon. For other Safari 6.1 reasons I did lose some bookmarks, but not the majority. Still not crazy about it.
  • Apple decided to remove the ability to add color by LABELS. Over the past several years my entire business files were predicated on this. Now they have removed this to add TAGS. Tags are barely visible and my well organized file system has been disrupted. I understand the basis for Tags but it does me no good. It seems that unilateral decision making by Apple to get to the "200" new additions to the latest iOS never takes into consideration what the removal of one aspect to the iOS does for the rest of us. Please Apple give us back the Label function!
  • UPDATE: Be afraid ... Be VERY VERY afraid of new iBooks on Mavericks! Whoever designed this thing should get fired. https://discussions.apple.com/community/ibooks/ibooks_for_mac?view=discu... Yours truly just learned about some nasty so-called changes the way iBooks works now! Something is really pushing me to go back to previous one .....
  • Yea, dude, iBooks is a freakin' disaster. It ruins the whole update for me.
  • For now, and until Apple fires that "guy", when you see update available for your Books (update? What update??? LMAO), then don't. The update is only to move your existing books to some retard directories on your local HDD and changes the link on your iBooks to the new location. What happens next is when / if you need to restore your MAC, you'd have to download all your books again. There doesn't seem a way to keep a local backup of your books to import. There are like hundreds of silly file / directory names instead of 1, i.e.; "*.epubs" Disaster indeed!!!
  • There are no "swap files" in OSX (Unix) and there never have been. There is true virtual memory which is used regardless of the amount of RAM. Peter Cohen must be a Windows NT guy where they continue to use brutal inefficient and seriously outdated swap file technology. VM is dynamically allocated the computer will slow when short of RAM. UNIX has been around since 1969 and never used swap files.
  • Maverick to Ipad Sync has a major flaw. Apple has discontinued the use of USB or Wi-Fi (ITunes) to update all the major business Applications: Contact Lists, Mail, Calendar, Notes, Reminders and others. You can only use ICloud to Sync, NOT USB (ITunes) OR WI-FI. This poses a major security issue with all business customers and especially State and Federal Governments. APPLE BEAN COUNTERS may want to drive their ICloud Business model, but in the process they have driven the Ipad and Ipad Mini right off the cliff. We believe this flaw also extends to all Smart Phones. But, we have not tested them for the problem. MAVERICK IS A TOTAL FAILURE AND A MAJOR CLUSTER F. It has so many problems that they are too many to list. Stephen Jobs is rolling in his grave over the completely disjointed and fragmented Apple Co. Inside the Apple Company, Mac doesn't talk to OS, OS doesn't talk to IPad, and nobody talks to anybody else, etc., etc. The Apple CEO needs to be fired before he kills Apple for a 3rd time.
  • Two issues that I've noticed in Mavericks: - Calendar:
    When you receive an invite, before you had the option to click and open the dialog for the details of the invite, scroll down and put in a "Comment". Then if you clicked "Decline" that comment would be send as part of your email message response. This "Comment" field has now been removed with no replacement as I can see it.
    I've even spoken to Customer Care and they suggested they would raise it with engineering... - Mail and Gmail integration:
    The mac mail application now handles Gmail accounts differently as described in the scenario below:
    - you receive an email in your inbox
    - in mac mail, you move that message to a "folder" in gmail (which is really a label as they call it)
    - the email is no longer in your mac mail inbox
    - you check your gmail web GUI, you can see that the message now has the "label" associated to it, but it also still has the "inbox" label as well. As such, your message is not really moved, just an extra pointer is added to it... and so, if you close mac mail and restart it, updating via the IMAP server, that email suddenly shows up in your inbox again... If anyone has any solutions for either of these, I'd be happy to hear them. Otherwise, feel free to report them at apple.com/feedback in the hopes that Apple will fix these two issues. Cheers
  • If you are a long time Mac user, and you have not yet downloaded this dumbed down step backward, don't. Most all advanced Mac user controls have been removed to make Apps look and operate more like cute little iPhone apps. Gone are sophisticated tools. Now there are templates so you don't have to be burdened with having to do creative production. I have been using Mavericks for a couple of weeks now, and it gets worse every day. Sliders are jerky, scrolling is sticky, and each time I open a different App, my MacBook Pro slows to a crawl while it "learns" how to manage the processing resources. Lots of spinning beach balls instead of productivity. Each time I turn off my computer, it forgets everything it supposedly has learned. Mavericks is a substandard OS that has no place in the legacy of Apple Mac computers. I am lucky to have waited to see how Mavericks worked before installing it on my other Macs. It's too bad it is even on one of my computers. I will likely reinstall Mountain Lion and be happy that I have so many innovative, useful, creative tools that Apple once produced for the Macintosh. Mavericks is beyond disappointing. It is an insult.
  • I love the updates of Mavericks, however, one of my favorite features in the "travel time" feature in Apple Calendar. However, in using it, I've noticed that travel time is only used on OS X and not integrated into iOS 7. So, when I input travel time on my Mac, I can only see it there as it will not show up on device running iOS 7. Anyone have any clue when this is planned to change? Or even if they realize this?
  • I like the idea of Tags in Finder. What is missing though, is the ability to select a file and see what Tags are associated with it. In other words, if I click on a Tag, the list of files are displayed. However, if I click on a File, nothing. To accurately apply Tags to existing files, there should be a way to easily determine the existing Tags, short of opening each file. Am I missing something?
  • I have a mixed experience with Maverick.
    It works real fine on my brand new PowerBook, but is a nightmare on my 2 years old Imac which I just upgraded.
    Some apps don't work anymore, the machine is extra slow, Firefox quits every other minute, drag & drop on the desktop does not work anymore, the list is endless.
    I feel like I did an update with a 10 years old windows machine !