The OS X Mavericks is an important and useful upgrade and at some point you should do it. I think (feel free to disagree) that OS X upgrades have tended to be relatively clean and bug free, compared to Microsoft Windows upgrades, though not nearly as clean as Linux upgrades which are usually trouble free.
This particular upgrade, Mavericks, may have some bugginess to it. I have experienced some problems. But, the truth is that for any major upgrade, if 98% of users experience no problems at all, and 2% do, we tend to hear comments from those who do and not from those who don’t. I have no way of estimating the degree to which these “bugs” (I use that word though it may not apply to all things that seem wrong) are widespread or real. So that’s my caveat. The upgrade is probably not a bad upgrade for the vast majority of people, but with an operating system offered by Microsoft or Apple, you can’t be sure because the business model of these proprietary corporations does not involve that degree of openness. Having said all that, I weakly recommend that if you don’t need the upgrade now, maybe you should wait a little bit and get the upgrade after the next micro-iteration. Or just get the upgrade and live with a few bugs and annoyances until they are fixed by Apple or a third party app sweeps in to fix your stuff.
One of the most annoying things of OS X Mountain Lion (and Lion) was how it handled dual monitors. If you maximize an application on one monitor, the other monitor goes zombie-dead and can’t be used. That was dumb. Mavericks fixes that allowing the non-maximized monitor to continue to function. You can even have one app maximized on each monitor. This makes my life enormously better because I often want to have one app maximized in each monitor. Thank you Apple.
Lionish versions of OS X did not allow you to have the dock or top menu on the second monitor, though there were software solutions to this (which I’ve never tried). Mavericks automatically puts a menu bar on the top of the second monitor. This is an annoying solution to the problem, but at least it lets you have a menu over the applications you are using on the second monitor. This solves a number of problems. The Doc is a bit strange. It becomes active on the monitor you are using, but there are situations under which the doc forgets to switch positions or opens slowly if it is auto-hidden. Also, if you have the doc configured to auto-hide, that functionality seems to become quirky, at least on my installation (which is mostly out of the box). I think. In any event, at the moment, moving your mouse over a monitor does not activate it, you have to click on something.
Here’s what should really happen: First, both monitors should simply be active. There really is no reason to not allow this. The user should be able to decide what monitors have a top menu, and those different menus should be independently configured as to what is shown on them. The doc should be similar. For instance, I’d like to have the doc auto-hide on my main monitor but always be there on my second monitor, and if I could do that, I’d probably put it on the side of that monitor. OS X is based on an underlying software technology that without a doubt would allow this sort of thing to be done. There is nothing about the technology that makes this impossible or even difficult. Not allowing the added configurability I suggest is a design decision with which I disagree. Having said that, I like the current way in which monitors are handled much better than the old way. I anticipate the development of software fixes from third parties that will allow me to do what I really want to do.
Also a bug: When I start up my computer I am explicitly told that I must go and do a certain thing in Settings for the new Multiple Monitor thing to be turned on. But this functionality is already turned on, and the thing I must do in Settings is not possible because the place to do it does not exist, so I have to tell the computer to leave me alone. This buggy nag screen will hopefully disappear in the next iteration.
The Finder has been changed in interesting ways. You can now have tabbed finder windows. This is a feature with limited use and that I think people don’t fully understand, but it is a good thing. If you are dealing with multiple views into your file system because you are moving files around, tabs don’t help much. You really want multiple panes. But if you have multiple distinct non-interrelated tasks involving the finder, having different tabs may be better than multiple windows. So I see the tabs as being a good upgrade that will have limited, but important, uses.
By the way, if you have multiple Finder windows open and you want to instantly reduce the number of windows, you can select “merge finder windows” and all the different windows will be converted into tabs in the focal window. That’s nice.
While we’re still on the Finder let me mention one of the “bugs” (I truly hope this is a bug and not a feature that Apple keeps) that relates to Finder. When files are sorted by Kind, folders are no longer in front (on top). This breaks the rule that folders go in front that was established in the 19th century or so, and is very very annoying. I almost never want to see the files in the folder that contains multiple organized folders. Those files are files I tossed there because I’m not sure what to do with them yet. When I go to a folder called something like “Projects” I want to then see the various folders, one per project, and then drill down. The files I have in the top level of the “Projects” folder are either temporary, as yet un-filed, or otherwise secondary. If this does not get fixed, or worse, if this is part of some new paradigm where folders are not considered important, I’ll be replacing Finder with one of the third party alternatives.
Finder now has tags. Before, it had the ability to highlight files and folders, and this is a step up from that and more configurable. I’m not sure if I’ll use this feature but it could be very handy for gathering together files stored in diverse folders (because that is how you want them organized) into a single project (because that is how you are going to use them).
Another new feature of Mavericks that I’ve used and that worked quite well is Maps. The other day, I put an address in Maps, set up directions to that location, etc. on my desktop. Then I headed out with my iPhone, and the iPhone knew about the destination and directions. The fact that I had put the wrong address in (wrong city, even) and went a half our out of my way is not Apple’s fault, though I would love to see an app for that. There is also real time traffic data on Maps, and I look forward to checking that out.
Mavericks has an iBook ap. I think it is funny that it took this long for iApple to make an iBook app that shows the iProducts made in iApple’s iBook Author on the iMacs, but maybe that’s just I thinking it strange. Anyway, iBook on Mavericks has the ability to show multiple books, and has a side pane for notes and such, so that is all brilliant. It still does not let you copy and paste text out of the book. Is there an app for that? CORRECTION YOU CAN TOO COPY AND PASTE YAY
I wonder if this will allow me to take drafts of books I’m working on and get them into the cloud from my desktop and thus be able to see them on my iPad, rather than using the kludge of putting epub files into my dropbox folder then tricking the iPad into opening them with iPad’s iBook.
Contacts and Calendar have been updated and improved, but I don’t use those apps for anything fancy, so I probably will not appreciate or be able to evaluate the changes. I rarely use Safari on the desktop, but there are numerous improvements that may have me testing it out. There is a keychain thingie but since it does not interoperate with my laptop it probably does little for me, but if you are all-Apple, you might find this useful because among other things it generates super secure passwords. This is important because of all those social networking sites that seem to get hacked now and then. There are changes to notifications, and they’ve added “LinkedIn” to the social networking links (right after I closed my LinkedIn account because I decided that the LinkedIn had no use, was not secure, and had become increasingly obnoxious).
People (on my Facebook page) have variously noted increases in speed or decreases in speed with this upgrade. There are improvements in memory use in Mavericks which should be felt by people who do not have much memory installed. I have a lot of memory installed so I don’t notice an increase in speed, and in a few areas, I’ve noticed a possible decrease in speed, but it is hard to be sure. Nothing dramatic has happened for me one way or the other. There are increases in efficiency in battery use which will be nice for laptop users, and perhaps will help offset the fact that iOS drinks copious amounts of battery juice for breakfast. Updates can be made automatic, which is probably a good thing for most users. I like knowing that there are updates so I can see what they are about, so I won’t use that feature at this time. Dictation is enhanced, and there are various accessibility improvements none of which I’ve tried out.
Let me know how it goes for you.