Top 10 New Features in Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
It may be a free update for Mac users, but Mavericks delivers premium new feature—here are ten of the most important.
With prices steadily dropping, it was almost inevitable. The previous Mountain Lion went for a very reasonable $19.99, but at its fall event in San Francisco, Apple dropped a bombshell by announcing that its new desktop operating system, OS X 10.9 Mavericks would be a free download. While it's true that Mavericks is not the OS paradigm shift represented by Microsoft's recent Windows 8 (itself recently updated for free to a much improved Windows 8.1), Mavericks does bring quite a few new capabilities to the Mac. In fact, the company notes more than 200 new features.
A pair of completely new apps—iBooks, and Maps—have made the leap from iOS to the Mac. And a pair of longstanding Mac OS X features have been considerably improved—Calendar and Safari. Safari gets not only a redesign, but also a speed boost, a new Shared Links feature, and more standards support.
Also improved are some system tools, including multiple display support, notifications, the Finder, and Keychain password management, which now can sync among all your Macs and iOS devices. A new organizational tool, Tags, works the way tagging in photo apps has worked for years: attach a text keyword to any file, and you'll be able to find it quickly in a Finder sidebar. To put Apple's new OS through its paces, I installed Mavericks on a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a 2.3GHz Core i7 CPU .
iBooks That book-reading software is the top-billed new feature in Apple's new desktop software gives you a hint about the update's evolutionary rather than revolutionary nature. That said, iBooks for Mac is a well-done piece of software, just as you'd expect from Apple. Like the latest iTunes desktop app, a button switches you between your library and the store, which boasts over 2 million books (compared with Amazon Kindle's claimed 2.7 million and Barnes & Noble Nook's 3 million). Look up words, make use of highlighting and notes, and rest assured that everything is synced among all your Macs and iOS devices.
Multiple Display Support One of Windows 8's big boasts was its multiple display support, which allows users to show the taskbar on more than one screen, and even stretch a wallpaper across displays. Mac OS X Mavericks now follows suit, allowing multiple monitors to show the Dock and menu bars. It requires no configuration—for real: I plugged in a Dell monitor and immediately saw the Mavericks wave wallpaper. It also works with Apple TV-connected HDTVs as well as HDMI and Thunderbolt monitors. One Windows multi-monitor feature I missed, though was the ability to drag each screen's position around: My mouse cursor entered the screen from the wrong direction. Another limitation I ran into was that I couldn't span a window across displays.