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.

Comments

  1. #1 makeinu
    October 27, 2013

    When files are sorted by Kind, folders are no longer in front (on top).

    Greg, I’m still on Lion (10.7), and I can tell you that’s not the case: folders do not automatically list at the top when sorting by Kind.

    When I sort my Documents folder by kind, for example, it defaults to what appears to be a “folders on the bottom” view, with loose files sorted by kind in no apparent order. When I swap the sort order, however, by clicking on the column header again, the folders are still not at the top. Instead, I see two apparently randomly placed application-specific files at the top.

    So this “folders at the top” paradigm you say was changed in Mavericks did not exist even as far back as Lion, if it in fact ever did.

    A minor quibble with what is otherwise an interesting take on Mavericks. I will, as usual, be waiting on the first point-release before upgrading.

  2. #2 Samphire
    UK
    October 27, 2013

    I downloaded the upgraded Pages and Numbers apps which are supposed to be free but found that I had been charged by iTunes. I put in a complaint and have had emails from 2 very nice ladies on behalf of iTunes seeking to sort it out.

    To prove that I had previously purchased iWork 09 I was required to email to iTunes a photo of the disc and the box it came in back in 2009 and I have also scanned over a copy of the Package List (in lieu of the 2009 receipt which I no longer have). I trust that this will prove sufficient to obtain a refund.

    However, given that there have been many complaints of iTunes charging for what was supposed to be a free upgrade, I imagine
    this is going to be quite a big job for iTunes to sort out.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    October 27, 2013

    “So this “folders at the top” paradigm you say was changed in Mavericks did not exist even as far back as Lion, if it in fact ever did.”

    It definitely existed. I only ever used Lion for a brief period before upgrading to Mountain Lion, but perhaps it required a tweak to sort folders first. At present, there are other people on the internet making the same complaint I’m making:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1658022

    so this might be a bit more complicated than I initially indicated.

  4. #4 Jay
    October 28, 2013

    So you deleted LinkedIn but are still on facebook?? You deleted the (way) lesser of two evils….

    As for mavericks, solid OS. Apart from losing contacts and calendar syncing in itunes I love it.

  5. #5 Dave X
    October 28, 2013

    Ah ^-command-F Full-screen makes the other monitor useless. I hadn’t noticed it since I do full-screen to watch movies at home with the kids, and never have the other monitor hooked up. I more frequently window/zoom-ed or click on the window frames’ green-circled ‘+’ and can use both monitors simultaneously.

  6. #6 G
    California USA
    October 29, 2013

    Speaking of deleting LinkedIn (and Facebook, and let’s not forget Google, aka the Borg): How does Mavericks do with regard to letting you block, delete, and defeat attempts at “tracking” (surveillance by any other name) and similar invasions?

    It’s lately come out in ArsTechnica and other places, that Apple, Microsoft, Google, et. al. are developing new methods of “tracking” that are nearly impossible to defeat. This has me wary of installing Mavericks on my Mac or Windows8 on my PC, in case either of those has any of that.

    But if those developments occur, I’ll ditch Mac and Windows and convert my primary machine to whatever open-source OS is best at protecting against that crap, even if that means having to deal with a less user-friendly UI and kludgy apps.

    Question: does anyone here know of a decent text writing program that’s as fast & clean as TextEdit in Mac? Open Office won’t do: it’s bloatware in the worst way. I want to be able to produce docs in .TXT and .RTF without the app trying to “think” for me in any way, and without the display lagging behind my typing. Any suggestions?

  7. #7 Mark P
    October 31, 2013

    Thanks for this review. I saw that the free upgrade was available and have been wondering whether to do it or not. I have read that there are complaints about Mail. Any observations on that?

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    October 31, 2013

    I’d like to hear what the complaints about Mail are. I’ve noticed that it does not check for mail very often and it formerly did, and seems to be asleep a lot of times. I don’t know if that is a change in settings or a change in latency. It hasn’t been working badly enough for me to look into yet.

  9. #9 Augusto Nouel P.
    Costa Rica
    October 31, 2013

    I’m still using OSX10.7.5 and still waiting for more reviews like yours (thanks a lot) before installing Mavericks because I still have a big concern:
    When up-grading to Lion I lost few (but very important to me) apps due Rosetta was not supported anymore (fortunately, I still have an old Mac running on Leopard), OK…

    Now, I have some applications installed* but don’t keep, don’t have the original CDs or purchasing data of all of them, so it would be terrible for me if loosing or having to get and re-install them.
    Question: Do you know if there’re previously installed* App troubles of compatibility with Mavericks?.
    Thanks for sharing.
    aaa.

    * OSX 10.7.5

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    October 31, 2013

    I have not heard of that but I suspect that any app built in the Apple Sandbox that ran on Lion/Mountain Lion would be fine, because it was the pre-Lion to Lion transition that was deeper at the level of changing how things work. Apps that don’t use the sandbox may more of a question, but still, if an app is working on Mountain Lion I don’t see why Mavericks would break it.

    But I could be wrong!

    If you have apps that came on CD’s they must be pretty old. I suppose there could be apps that were theoretically broken by Lion and beyond but happened to work anyway, and subsequent upgrades could finally complete the job of totally breaking them. But, if the app is still supported, there should be newer Mountain Lion/Mavericks-ready versions, I would think.

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  12. #12 Chris Hill
    November 2, 2013

    I’m liking Mavs, but the new finder window thing is a pain. If I want to open two windows to drag files or folders between them, Mavs keeps “outthinking” me and making sure I just have one window. For example, I have a folder, call it “committees” open, and within that, there’s another folder I want to open in a separate pane so I can drag things around, call that second folder “bird committee.” If I double-click on “bird committee” then the larger “committees” pane disappears. I used to have to option-double-click for that, right? And if I leave “committees open, and go over to the dock and click on documents and drag down until I reach “bird committees” and open it, then “committees” still effing disappears. Control-click on the internal folder and it gives me the option of opening in a new TAB but not in a new WINDOW. Sheesh, what do I have to do to get two friggin finder windows open at the same time? [actually, I have done that, but it was took several tries, and I just lost one again. this is not increasing my prodctivity here...]

  13. #13 Chris Hill
    November 2, 2013

    Oh, ok. Go to the finder and select “new finder window” and then navigate to where I want to be works. But still, Apple, why can’t I just double-click on something to open it in a new window any more? Or option-doubleclick. Give me the option.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    November 2, 2013

    I’m experimenting with Path Finder. You can install a free 30 day trial. It is probably worth looking into.