You probably already know about the major features of the latest, free upgrade for Mac OS X. Here are the hidden ones.
You’ve kept up with the news, and you know about Finder’s tabs, Safari’s new list of shared links and the fix Apple finally provided for users of multiple monitors. You read about App Nap and the other tricks Mavericks uses to extend the battery life of your MacBook, and know that the skeuomorphic tendencies have been stripped from Calendar and Contacts.
“But wait…there’s more”, as Steve Jobs loved to say. Here are the little-known Mavericks features users can start using right now.
Many users haven’t noticed, but since Mountain Lion OS X has included dictation. The hitch: users needed to be online to use it.
Not so in Mavericks. Download a 785 MB file and your words will no longer be sent to Apple’s headquarters before being converted to text. The service starts as it did in Mountain Lion – by pressing the Fn button two times:
In addition to not being offline, dictation now happens in something approaching realtime. This means you can see your words show up as you talk, and even make changes with your keyboard without turning off dictation.
As Bakari demonstrated, Apple’s dictation feature needs some work compared to Dragon Naturally Speaking. Still, it’s not terrible – and free – so try it out.
With Mountain Lion, Apple introduced a native notifications system – something previously only offered by third-party program Growl.
Mavericks brings interactive notifications to this system, meaning you can respond to IMs (via Messages) and emails (via Mail) directly from notification notifications:
It’s not exactly hidden, but if you don’t use Mail or Messages you probably haven’t noticed it. As of this writing, few third party programs have taken advantage of the feature (I hope that changes). Responding to tweets or Google Voice like this would be awesome, and I’m sure you can think of a few more potential uses.
Do Not Disturb
Trying to get some work done? A good information diet demands that you eliminate distractions while doing so, and Mavericks understands this. A “Do Not Disturb” function in the Notification Center lets you turn off all pop-ups until the next day, just like the feature does on iOS. Get to it by opening the Notification Center, then scrolling up:
Alternatively, you can Option-click the notification center icon on the menubar to turn off notifications for the day. This isn’t entirely new: a similar function in Mountain Lion was called “Turn Off Notifications”.
Spot Energy Sucking Apps
Heres a feature you may not notice right away. Click the battery, and your Mac will tell you which apps are using up “Significant Energy”:
This is part of Apple’s efforts to extend battery life on Macs. This effort also includes App Nap, which puts apps you’re not currently using to sleep, and a new Activity Monitor that includes a tab dedicated to monitor energy usage per-app:
With these two tools you’re empowered to stretch your battery’s life for all it’s worth. Close programs that are sucking up juice, favour those that aren’t.
From the “Not sure why” department: your Mac now has system-wide Emoji. Yes, you read that properly. Just press Control, Command and Space to see this box:
Useless? Probably. Cool? Kind of.
And now, a hidden feature hidden inside another hidden feature. The seemingly useless emoji menu also gives you access to special characters. So next time you need to Trademark Something™ or request proper recycling (?), you need only press Control, Command and Space, then click the icon to the right of all the happy faces:
Put The Dashboard Wherever You Want
Not a huge deal, but nice. When Misson Control was introduced with Lion, the Dashboard moved from an overlay to a separate space, to the left of all workspaces (you can bring back the overlay option in the settings). With Mavericks you can put the Dashboard anywhere you like: to the right of your workspaces, or between any two. Just drag it where you want it.
Post To LinkedIn From The Notification Center
To most LinkedIn is a spam machine, but to a few it’s a functioning social network. If you’re in the latter, and like to post from the notification center, add LinkedIn to the “Web Accounts” section in OS X and you’ll find a form for posting messages in the notification center.
Is There More?
Of course, if you’re upgrading from Snow Leopard, you might not know about features introduced in the relatively new Lion and Mountain Lion releases. Lucky for you, we’ve got a Mountain Lion manualand a Lion manual that go over everything new in those systems – all of which you’ll find in Mavericks.
Or, if you don’t want to upgrade but want some of these features, you should know that Simon outlined how to get Mavericks features without upgrading, so check that out first if you’re nervous.
Are there any hidden gems I’ve neglected to mention here? Please let me, and everyone else who reads this, know about them in the comments below.
Explore more about: OS X Mavericks.