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This question serves to share and collect the enhancements that make a large difference to how you use your Mac.

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The best answers will not only list a feature, but provide details on how to configure that feature, and provide an image of how to use the feature to be more efficient or effective with Mavericks.

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53 Answers 53

The overhaul of the virtual memory system makes it clear that memory pressure is the primary factor to track and not how many free pages, inactive pages or overall virtual memory is allocated.

Mavericks Activity Monitor - memory

The bottom panel is invaluable for diagnosing a slow machine and knowing whether to rule out memory contention as a cause of the slowness. After running your Mac for a week, you should reach a nice steady state like shown above and can know if adding more RAM or adjusting the programs you run will affect performance.

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12  
And, best of all, this feature renders moot all the angst and confusion about inactive memory on OS X. Boom! –  bmike Oct 22 '13 at 22:30
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750MB for the kernel?!!! –  sds Oct 22 '13 at 23:47
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I would encourage either Eugene or SDS to explicitly ask what is included in kernel_task as a stand-alone question. We can't really answer a question posed in a comment. –  bmike Oct 23 '13 at 19:07
3  

With a text field active, Control ⌃ + Command ⌘ + Space opens a characters panel including Emojis.

enter image description here

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1  
Does not work in MS Word :( –  F'x Oct 23 '13 at 15:48
15  
Very few things work in MS Word - I think they use a custom text engine or something. –  Undo Oct 23 '13 at 17:06
6  
It is not just emoji, but a quicker better way to search for any unicode character like: 𝝀, ÷, ∪, or Δ –  SaintMacintosh Oct 23 '13 at 22:10
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While I agree it is a nice feature, they should have sticked with the old shortcut Cmd + Shift + T. In fact, it was the first thing I changed on Mavericks. –  Egon Oct 24 '13 at 7:15

The energy consumption view that collects 8 hours of history and graphs the charge level in your battery as well as showing each process that drained measurable amounts of energy is going to make squeezing extra productivity out of one charge much easier.

energy usage - 8 hours

Not only will developers (I'm looking at you Dropbox) know that they have to be better stewards of battery life, it makes it easy to see which apps support App Nap and even that a program that is quit now was responsible for using energy in the past 8 hours. This tool provides actionable information for users to better manage their experience when away from wall power on a portable Mac.

This detail is quite hidden inside Activity Monitor, but Apple does expose the biggest users of energy in the menu bar for apps using significant energy.

undo is unicode U+238c or &#9100

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Secret Wallpapers

OS X ships with a bunch of really cool sample photos that are not normally available for use as desktop backgrounds.

Previously in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, these were located at:

/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.Framework/Versions/A/Resources/Default Collections/

In OS X 10.9 Mavericks, they’re now located at

/Library/Screen Savers/Default Collections/

Here's how to get them:

  • from Finder, use the menu GoGo to Folder… (or hit ⌘⇧G) and paste in: /Library/Screen Savers/Default Collections/

You should see 4 folders, and inside them you’ll find lots of really cool Wallpapers:

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Bring Your Home Folder's Library Back with One Checkbox in Mavericks:

Apple decided to hide the Library from its users in recent OS X updates, but in Mavericks you can now change that with a simple checkbox.

In the past you had to enter a Terminal command with every little system update:

chflags nohidden ~/Library

With OS X Mavericks, you can just navigate to your home folder, press Command+J to bring up the folder settings, and check the box next to "Show Library Folder" instead.

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Using multiple desktops on multiple displays is finally usable. Now I can switch desktops on my left hand monitor while the right hand monitor doesn't change.

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10  
I wouldn't exactly call this an under documented feature. It is one of the 'tent pole' features of Mavericks. –  Steve Moser Oct 23 '13 at 3:20
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You are right that it's not under-documented. But the question originally asked "What are your favourite features in Mavericks?". It has since been significantly rephrased, thus pulling the rug out from underneath my answer. –  Moriarty Oct 23 '13 at 3:29
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I was looking forward to this feature, but actually find it doesn't work how I'd like it to at all. I expected each display would get its own row of workspaces, but it doesn't -- instead you keep the same number of workspaces all the time, divided between whatever displays are being used. One very annoying negative of this is that you can no longer drag a window off the edge of a display onto the neighbouring workspace any more, when using multiple displays. –  scottishwildcat Oct 23 '13 at 9:59
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@scottishwildcat - Yeah, that only works if the workspace you're dragging the window to is a desktop (as opposed to a full-screened app). –  Nick Chammas Oct 23 '13 at 23:40

Put your computer to sleep quickly

If you're using OSX Mavericks on a MacBook, tapping the power key briefly immediately puts your computer to sleep—a simple tweak that makes saving energy even easier. For the usual shutdown dialog, just keep holding for three seconds, or press control+power.

As always, you can put just the display to sleep by pressing control+shift+eject or control+shift+power, depending on your model.

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2  
ctrl+shift+eject since (at least) 10.6 –  Filip Haglund Oct 23 '13 at 14:08
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ctrl + shift + eject(or power where no eject key) turns off the display - power key sleeps the Mac. –  Machine Elf Oct 24 '13 at 11:35

The battery menu in the top bar now shows apps using high amounts of energy - nice for killing energy-hogs:

enter image description here

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Move Dashboard in Mission Control

You can now drag to rearrange the Dashboard to move it between your desktop spaces and full screen apps. It can even be dragged to alternative monitors, providing that "Displays have separate Spaces" is enabled in System Preferences → Mission Control.

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2  
@DanijelJ With LICEcap :) –  George Garside Oct 28 '13 at 9:57
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+1 just for making the gif. –  styfle Nov 2 '13 at 8:39

Mac App Store Notifications Now Include Multiple "Later" Options

You can choose from a handful of times in the future to remind you about pending updates from the Mac App Store.

enter image description here

Credit to this reddit.com/r/mac post.

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Battery Life

It's hard to beat getting an additional hour of use on a battery charge. I've been getting at least that much more use before having to plug in my 2012 MacBook Air. My experience matches up well with Apple's claim during the announcement keynote where the 13 inch Air from 2013 with Haswell benchmarked with another hour to an hour and a half of battery life just by installing Mavericks.

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1  
Is this really a new / undocumented feature? Do you know if there's any connection to the battery monitoring that Undo points out? –  Shog9 Oct 23 '13 at 2:35
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Somebody is putting words in my mouth, and the answer is confusing. All I was trying to say is that the biggest immediate improvement since going to 10.9 is the improved battery life on my 2012 11" MBA. That is a fantastic feature. Getting better performance from my hardware by just upgrading some software is pretty amazing. –  Mark Oct 23 '13 at 14:11

Finder messages are now Notification Center alerts

Prior to Mavericks, alerts from Finder would show up as a modal window, however they now show as a Notification Center alert, such as below:

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Disable App Nap on a per app basis in OS X Mavericks:

You may or may not know that one of the more discreet features in OSX Mavericks will be App Nap.

Apps will enter App Nap when they’re completely hidden from view by other apps and when they aren’t actively working. This is a great way to reduce your running apps from killing your Mac’s battery life.

Also, you may want certain apps to never enter App Nap. This could be true for apps that are important to you but sometimes perform long non-interactive tasks.

To prevent apps from entering App Nap, go to Finder -> Applications -> right click on the app you want -> click on Get Info -> and look for the option that says “Prevent App Nap” right under the copyright section, as shown on the picture below:

enter image description here

Please note that said option won’t be there for apps that don’t support App Nap.

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1  
Don't all Cocoa apps support App Nap by default? –  Mark Oct 22 '13 at 22:48
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@Mark I believe that's what they said at WWDC - all Cocoa apps support it out of the box, but there are some API calls that can be implemented so your app knows about it.. –  Undo Oct 22 '13 at 22:49

Show Desktop using Trackpad now follows motion

Using the Show Desktop gesture, the motion of the windows now follows the motion of your fingers on the trackpad. No longer is it a set speed, you can move the windows at the exact speed of your fingers, and even pull them back half way through to cancel the motion.

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1  
I think this is probably my least favorite feature (that I've noticed so far). It's the same for 5-finger swipe to launch pad, and a quick swipe is no longer smooth, it stutters before deciding on going to the launch pad or fading out of it. –  JuJoDi Oct 23 '13 at 1:28
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One of the best features. I enables you to have a quick look on your desktop without also doing the oposite gestures afterwards. –  Max Ried Apr 16 at 19:38

Gatekeeper shows most recent app in System Preferences

After Gatekeeper blocks an app, going to the relevant option in System Preferences shows the app name and a button that allows you to open the app.

"Fantastical.app" was blocked from opening because it is not from an identified developer. 'Open Anyway'

This means it is no longer required for new users to know that clicking Open from the right-click menu will bypass Gatekeeper.

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Open PSDs directly in Safari

You can now preview PSD files (Photoshop Documents) directly in Safari without actually opening Preview, or even downloading the PSD to your Downloads folder.

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AirPlay display:

The Apple TV makes it easy to see on your TV the media content that is on your Mac, such as to stream videos or photos.

In OS X Mountain Lion, you could also mirror your Desktop to the Apple TV, such as for presentations.

OS X Mavericks takes that to the next step, treating the Apple TV as just another monitor, so you can extend your desktop onto an Apple TV-connected TV or projector.

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Enhanced Dictation

Enhanced Dictation allows offline use and continuous dictation with live feedback.

Great for those without Internet connections and those not wanting to have their dictation processed outside of their network.

Dictation and Speech settings

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ColorSync Utility: New Calculator

This little known included application continues to improve with a new colour Calculator.

Colour Calculator

Not new to Mavericks but certainly hidden, ColorSync continues to provide interactive 3D colour space visualisation for profiles.

3D colour space

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Driving directions for iOS:

OS X Mavericks adopts iOS's Maps app. That by itself is not a huge deal, even though it's nice to have an alternative to Google's Web-based maps. But what's cool is the ability to get driving directions and send them to your iPhone or other iOS 7-based device. They show up in the iOS Maps app, ready for you to follow while driving or walking, and they remain in your bookmarked directions for access later if needed.

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Improved Multiple Screen Support

It is pretty awesome having a menu bar on each screen and being able to full screen apps on a per screen basis. I never used full screen mode before since I always had the linen background on my other screen.

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1  
I was looking forward to this feature, but actually find it doesn't work how I'd like it to at all. I expected each display would get its own row of workspaces, but it doesn't -- instead you keep the same number of workspaces all the time, divided between whatever displays are being used. One very annoying negative of this is that you can no longer drag a window off the edge of a display onto the neighbouring workspace any more, when using multiple displays. –  scottishwildcat Oct 23 '13 at 10:02
1  
@scottishwildcat I may misunderstand your description but taken literally it’s the opposite of true: that’s exactly what Mavericks provides: each display has its own row of spaces now, and you can absolutely drag windows between spaces and screens, both when using multiple windows and when not. –  Konrad Rudolph Oct 25 '13 at 12:30

Easily Identify New Apps:

If you use Launchpad, any new apps you download will sparkle to denote their newness.

Once you acknowledge them, or they've sat there neglected for awhile, the sparkles will disappear.

enter image description here

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New Safari setting to power off plugins when inactive to save battery life as featured in this Ars Technica article.

I have high expectations that this will stop the issues occurring when my girlfriend has 15 tabs with flash players open in the background while working in other programs.

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12  
@Michael No. In that case you will have to change to a newer version of girlfriend that supports Safari. –  Erik Madsen Oct 23 '13 at 20:12

Move Dock Between Monitors

The Dock starts on your main monitor, but if you put your cursor in another monitor, go to the bottom of the screen, and then keep moving down, the Dock will pop up (and disappear from wherever it was previously). This is really nice if your "main" monitor isn't actually.

The motion has to be pretty straight down and surprisingly long - it's a bit finicky.

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2  
This is applicable only if your dock is at the bottom (I have it on the left). –  rm -rf Oct 23 '13 at 2:30
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@rm-rf True; if you use the left/right options it is locked to the left/right side of the left-/right-most monitor. –  Aaron Dufour Oct 23 '13 at 13:56

Responsive scrolling

In Mountain Lion and earlier, any window content that doesn't fit in the current frame of the window (like a long webpage) isn't drawn until scrolled into view. In Mavericks, this offscreen content is "pre-rendered" during idle time, which results in vastly improved scrolling performance (especially noticeable with complex documents or webpages).

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2  
In general, though, I've found the scrolling performance, at least in Safari, significantly more sluggish (Macbook Air 11" 2012). Was trying to see if someone had a trick for disabling Timer Coalescing to see if that was the culprit. –  Michael Scott Cuthbert Oct 24 '13 at 4:53

Disable Notification Center on the Lock Screen:

enter image description here

Notification Center doesn't see a whole lot of improvement this time around, but the update does mess with your settings a little bit. If you're not a fan of getting a million notifications, you're going to want to pop into System Preferences > Notifications and take a look at the new options. The big one to check is "Show notifications on lock screen."

If you don't want your emails or anything else showing when you're computer is locked, uncheck this box.

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2  
If you want nothing, you have to uncheck the box for each separate application? That's a pain… why can't it be a global setting?! –  F'x Oct 25 '13 at 21:58

Zoom pictures in QuickLook

You can now zoom pictures in QuickLook using the default zoom gestures: Pinch In & Pinch Out, as well as panning with two fingers.

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Debug menus have been updated

The debug menus have been updated for various apps.

Below is the debug menu for App Store and Contacts:


To activate the menus, run the following commands (and restart the apps):

defaults write com.apple.appstore ShowDebugMenu -bool true
defaults write com.apple.AddressBook ABShowDebugMenu -bool true

Replace true with false to remove.

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1  
@hashier See Terminal commands in edit. –  George Garside Oct 25 '13 at 17:23

iCloud Keychain stores and syncs Secure Notes across Macs.

The new iCloud Keychain stores website usernames and passwords, credit card numbers and Wi-Fi network information and keeps the data up to date across all of a person's Apple devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

It also stores and syncs Secure Notes across Macs, like this: Secure Note

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Notification Center appears on current monitor

In a multi-monitor setup, Notification Center now appears on the monitor where your cursor is currently located. This is a nice improvement if you invoke it while you're working on a secondary monitor: it appears on the monitor you're looking at, rather than the primary.

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