OS X Mavericks is the tenth major version of OS X, Apple’s operating system for the Mac. It was announced earlier at WWDC in June 2013, and Apple has just announced that it is now available for free on the Mac App Store.
MacBook users will find Mavericks especially attractive with its new energy-saving technologies, it even promises to boost performance with a new feature called compressed memory. Power users will find much to play with, including tabs in the Finder, document tags, multiple display support and iCloud Keychain sync. Apple TV owners will want to upgrade, as Mavericks lets you use an Apple TV as an external display.
Not sure if OS X Mavericks is for you? There are over 200 new features in the new OS X, but here are eight key features to look forward to.
Apple promises improved battery life for Macbook users. Time Coalescing groups low-level operation together, creating tiny periods of idle time which lets your CPU enter a low-power state more often. App Nap slows idle background apps down so they use less resources.
Even Safari and iTunes HD get power savings, Safari Power Saver pauses animations off the page, and iTunes HD reduces the frequency of disk access.
Mavericks comes with a new Compressed Memory feature, which compresses data from inactive apps to free up memory space. Apple says that Mavericks can make a Mac 1.4x more responsive and wake from standby 1.5x faster when compared to OS X Mountain Lion.
The Finder takes a page from browsers and adds tabs to combine multiple Finder windows into one.
If you love tags you’ll love Mavericks, which lets you tag files and find them in the Finder. Say you tag a picture ‘Family’, you can just click on Family in the Finder sidebar or search for it in Spotlight.
Notifications become more useful in Mavericks, you can now reply to messages, tweets and email from within the notification itself. There are also more kinds of notifications, you’ll get notified about low battery, failed Time Machine backups, failed ejected disks, and you can sign up with supported websites to get breaking announcements.
Owners of multiple monitors or an Apple TV will like Mavericks. The new OS doesn’t distinguish between a primary or secondary display, each gets its own menu bar and Dock. You can have multiple app windows running on either display or run full-screen apps on each one. AirPlay on Apple TV can turn your TV into a Mac monitor, so you can play items off your Mac on your TV.
iBooks and Maps go back to the Mac from iOS, both make their first appearance on OS X with Mavericks. A redesigned Calendar takes its clean look from iOS 7, although it doesn’t go all the way with Jony Ive’s new colors.
iCloud Keychain takes Keychain and syncs it to devices running Mavericks and iOS 7 via iCloud. Turning this feature on lets you store and sync your passwords, credit-card numbers and personal contact info, making it easy to log into websites on the Mac and iOS, and fill out online shopping carts.
Safari also comes with a new random password generator which will create a hard to guess, but difficult to remember password, which it will then help you to remember in Keychain.
Here are the Macs that can upgrade to Mavericks:
Macs must also have at least 2GB of memory, 8GB of free disk space and Snow Leopard (10.6.8), Lion (10.7), or Mountain Lion (10.8). If your system qualifies, you can upgrade now on the Mac App Store. As always, we recommend you back everything up first before you hit that upgrade button.