OS X Mavericks: Everything you need to know

Apple OS X Mavericks. That's the new name for Apple's new operating system that boasts a huge number of changes and improvements over the previous OS X Mountain Lion. It also drops the big cats name, opting instead for Mavericks, a famous surfing beach out in California.

So what does OS X Mavericks get, what new features will make your MacBook or iMac even better than before and do you have a system that will run it? Mavericks is clearly a big update for Apple and it changes a lot of the fundamentals of its Mac operating system. 

When is the OS X Mavericks release date?

Now. That's right, Apple has released Mavericks on 22 October 2013.

Where can I get Mavericks?

As a free download in the Mac App Store. Yep, Apple wants everyone to upgrade so they are giving it away for nothing.   

Will Mavericks come pre-installed with a new Mac?

Yes, and if it doesn't for some random reason you can simply download it. It won't cost you anything. 

READ: Apple MacBook Pro with Intel Haswell debuts, touting huge battery gains

Will Mavericks cost any money?

No. It's free. Yes really. 

What about if I have Mountain Lion or Lion, or even Snow Leopard?

It will work with all MacBooks and iMacs launched since 2007. 

Those machines 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)

The developer preview required you to run Mac OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard or higher, with 8GB of free disk space for installation. 

User Interface and OS functions

Finder Tabs

It has been a long time coming, but Apple has finally introduced a new look for the OS X Finder. Now you can open new tabs, just like you would in a web browser, to view the innards of your operating system via one single window. Drag a window on to another and it will be unified into another tab.

Multiple displays

The multi-display function of OS X has also been updated. The second display now acts completely independently of the other, so you can open the dock, push apps to full screen and use the menu bar independent of each. If you want you can run full-screen apps on separate displays rather than filling all your other screens with the grey widgets background. 

AirPlay also works in tandem with the new OS X Mavericks Finder to let you use the Apple TV to power another separate window. You can simply push an app out to your Apple TV and it will open up a new display. That display has its own dock and menu bar too. 

Mission Control has been optimised for the full-screen multiple display experience. Now you can open mission control and use it to drag desktops and full-screen apps between displays.

Tagging

With OS X Mavericks it's now possible to tag and search documents throughout the operating system. When you save a document you can opt to tag it with anything, say "important" and this will then create a searchable tag in the sidebar of the Finder. You can assign multiple tags to the same document. It's even possible to drag and drop directly on to a tag to tag a document. Some apps, like Apple's Page will support this feature from within the app so you can tag documents as you are saving them with the project they belong to. 

Advanced background technologies

The new Apple OS X uses lots of clever new background tech all aimed at saving battery life and improving performance. Timer Coalescing for example tweaks the processor usage to try tp increase idle time, in turn saving battery life. This can result in an increase of up to 72 per cent idle time, meaning much more battery. 

Safari Power Saver

Many websites display animations using power-hungry plug-ins that can drain battery life so Safari now stops them running, but only if they are too the side of the main action - an advert that's to the side for example.

Safari Power Saver pauses it letting you see a static preview, but it doesn't run until you click to play it. Apple suggests that Safari Power Saver when browsing websites with plug-in content will use up to 35 per cent less CPU power.

Compressed memory

Now memory is compressed into one single space. You can see 1.4x increased speed and 1.5x increased wake from standby according to Apple. 

Improved scrolling in apps

Shown in mail, it's super "glassy smooth" thanks to Apple's increased refinement of the OS X scrolling setup. 

App Nap

This functions knows what apps you are using at one point in time and lowers the other app's cpu load. All you need to do is just cover the other app's window and it saves battery by lowering the processor load required by the covered app.

iCloud Keychain

Always encrypted and synced across all systems including your iPhone, iCloud Keychain is all about helping you store passwords. It remembers everything from passwords and credit card numbers. It stores your website usernames and passwords on the devices you’ve approved, protects them with AES 256-bit encryption and keeps them up to date on each device. iCloud Keychain works with credit card information too, all ready to autofill at the press of a button. 

Notifications

You can now reply straight within notifications, send text messages back or even delete or reply to emails. FaceTime calls can be answered straight from the notification. It's now possible to receive push notifications on your Mac as well as your iOS device. These notifications will appear on both your iPhone and computer. On top of all this, when your machine wakes from sleep you will see everything in terms of notifications and all apps will have been updated in the background. 

Updates from Websites 

If the website you are visiting supports it you can also get notifications when they publish details to share with you regardless of whether or not you've got Safari open. That could be information about a  delayed flight, or that your favourite website has posted a new hot story you should be reading. 

New Apps 

Calendar

For OS X Mavericks the Calendar gets a new stripped-back look. The Calendar is much more context aware and can help fill in details like locations and weather. Say you put in the words pizza into your location, then the Calendar can suggest nearby pizza restaurants, work out how far away they are and automatically fill your calendar with the time it will take to get there and back again.

Maps

3D flyover data is included with the OS X Maps. The new app also features POI search, info cards and turn by turn directions. It's possible to set up a route on your Mac and then send it straight to your iPhone. Info cards within the app will show reviews and photos that can then be sent straight to your Safari bookmarks.

iBooks 

The full 1.8 million strong library of books is coming to Mac. The app will push your entire iOS based iBooks library to your computer, so you can read on the desktop.

The new Mac app also supports iBooks textbooks and has some clever tech for those who plan on using it to learn. Any notes you make will be converted into flashcards that you can then flip through and learn from.

Safari

Safari now has shared links that are pulled in from your Twitter and LinkedIn profile. Open the app and you are treated to a clean new home page with new looking top sites and a sidebar that shows reading lists, bookmarks and shared links.