20 OS X Mavericks tips and tricks
21st Oct 2013 | 13:15
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OS X Mavericks tips 1-10
The tenth major release of OS X - Mavericks - proves beyond doubt that Apple refuses to rest on its laurels, even if it is all out of cats.
This iteration looks to improve your Mac's battery life, introduces Finder enhancements, and continues the trend of iCloud and iOS integration.
If you haven't already, check what's new over in our OS X Mavericks feature, or simply keep reading. These tips are guaranteed to help you get the most out of your Mavericks Mac.
1. Turn off App Nap
In a bid to conserve battery life, Mavericks now has the ability to 'power down' individual apps when it thinks you're not using them. The jury's still out on how invisibly App Nap will work with third-party apps; fortunately you can turn it off for specific ones by right-clicking the app's icon, selecting Get Info and checking the Prevent App Nap option. (If you don't see said option, the app doesn't support it.)
2. Disable Auto Updates
Like iOS, Mavericks can not only check for updates automatically, but also download and install them in the background. No more faffing around in the App Store, then. But what if you want manual control of updates so you can review changes to your favourite app, swat away newly introduced bugs or bat off so-called 'improvements'? Simply head to System Preferences > App Store and uncheck 'Automatically check for updates'.
3. Keep Notifications off the lock screen
OS X Notifications are also more aligned with iOS, in that they appear on your Mac's lock screen. Cool, but not exactly security-conscious. Thankfully a trip to System Preferences > Notifications puts you in command of which notifications get displayed when your account is locked. Select an app from the list and check/uncheck 'Show notifications when display is off or locked'. Here's hoping a global switch shows up in a forthcoming update.
4. iCloud Keychain password suggestions
The iOS 7 feature that was pulled at the last moment is alive and well in Mavericks. iCloud Keychain encrypts and saves your website usernames and passwords for use on all your devices, and can also fill them in for you. It even boasts an on-the-fly Password Generator. Turn it on by going to System Preferences > iCloud and check the Keychain box in the list on the right. You'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password. Now, whenever a website asks you to input a new password, Safari will cough one up for you.
5. Reply to Messages inside Notifications
You can now reply to Messages instantly from within Notification Centre – but first you need to link the former to the latter. Go to System Preferences > Notifications, select Messages from the list on the left and check 'Show in Notifications'. Now choose to have them show as either Banners or Alerts. Alerts show Reply and Close buttons by default; to reply to a Banner Message, hover your pointer over it and a Reply button will appear for you to start typing your witty response.
6. Kill Dashboard
It's been with us for eight whole years and six iterations of OS X, and still Dashboard hangs on. This is what to do if you have no use for it. Open up Terminal and type: 'defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean true' followed by Enter. Relaunch the Dock by typing 'killall Dock', and the deed is done.
7. Do Not Disturb
Click on the Notification Center menu item at the top right of your screen. Now scroll up the side-loading bar and you'll see a Do Not Disturb toggle. Turn it on and you'll not be bothered by notifications until tomorrow. You can also schedule Do Not Disturb to activate daily between specific times, whenever the display is sleeping, or when mirroring to TVs and projectors, all from the Notifications pane in System Preferences.
8. Multiple Display support
Anyone who used Mountain Lion with an external display will recall the useless linen veil that got strewn across it whenever an app went fullscreen on their main screen. Well, relegate those frustrations to the dustbin, because Mavericks offers vanilla multiple display support. Misson Control's where it's at: swipe between full-screen apps on your Mac's desktop and your external display remains wonderfully inert. That's because each screen is granted its own set of spaces and its own fullscreen mode, gaining true independence in the process.
9. Go fullscreen in Finder
Now that Finder has gained browser-like tabs (yes, finally) it's time to strap in and engage in some heavyweight file management. And for that, make the most of the new fullscreen Finder mode. Click on the arrows button in the upper right corner of any Finder window, and let the management mayhem begin.
10. Calculate travel times between events
Thanks to Maps' deep integration with Mavericks, Calendar can now calculate travel times between events, so long as you input their location. Double-click an event, click its time and you'll see a 'travel time' field, which you can define manually or choose from the driving and walking times calculated from the preceding event's location.
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11. Choose Photo Stream images for Account profiles
Got an iOS device? If you've set up iCloud and you use Photo Stream, you can select any photo taken on it as your account profile picture. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups, click on your account picture, and simply select the image from there. What's more, you can select Faces captured from your iPhoto and Aperture libraries too.
12. Show (some) Desktop
Apple has given users yet another reason to use a trackpad by offering more granular control of the Show Desktop gesture. Putting thumb and three fingers on the pad and spreading them apart used to instantly whisk all your open windows to the sidelines; now windows spread only as far as your digits do, allowing you to reveal as much or as little of the desktop as you need.
13. Show links from your Twitter timeline
Safari 7 can now list your Twitter contacts' tweeted links in a handy consolidating sidebar for easy browsing. Hit the sidebar button on the left of the Safari window – next to the Bookmarks button – and hit the Shared Links '@' tab to access it. (Note that for this to work, you need to link Mavericks to your Twitter account in System Preferences > Internet Accounts.)
14. Merge Finder windows
Did we mention Finder now has tabs? Still, it's easy to slip into old habits and find yourself with Finder windows all over the shop. Just drag one window into another, though, and it magically becomes a tab. Or click one to designate it as your master window and from the menu bar select Window > Merge All Windows.
15. Tag files with drag and drop
Colour labels have been replaced in Mavericks' Finder with customisable tags for a more refined layer of file management. Finder > Preferences in the menu bar allows you to rename and re-assign colours to tags, which sit in each Finder window's sidebar. Simply drag and drop a file onto a specific tag to mark it out as such. You can even use two or more tags on a single file.
16. Power off your display
If you're using Mavericks on a MacBook, pressing down on the power button for one second now turns off the display - a simple tweak that makes saving energy even easier. For the usual shutdown dialog, just keep holding for three seconds.
17. Open folders in another tab
Another welcome Finder tweak comes in the ability to open folders as tabs in the same window. Simply right-click on the folder and select Open in New Tab, or hold down the Apple/Command key and double-click on the folder you want to open. Et voila. A tab is born.
18. Send Messages in style
OS X users will be familiar with styling Messages windows in their own background and font colour. Mavericks brings the added ability to choose your font - and impose your choice of horrifying magenta Comic Sans on recipients, too. Select Preferences from the Messages menu and click on the Viewing tab, and you'll see two new drop-downs: My font and Sender's font. The latter ability to override incoming type will likely prove a godsend...
19. Print your Maps route
With Mavericks' new Maps integration comes the seamless ability to print out directions (including a map showing your destination) - the ideal fallback for times when you've lost not only your way but also your data connection. With the Maps app open, enter your start and end points via the Directions button top left, pick your favourite route, and hit Command+P to bring up the Print dialog.
20. Keep track of power-hungry apps
This last tip defines Apple's continuing attention to the little details. Next time you're on the move with your Mac, click on the battery icon rightmost of the menu bar and you'll notice a new heading: Apps Using Significant Energy. Finally, a simple way to identify and quit hungry apps that are surplus to requirements and claim back some juice.