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

Please post one feature per answer. Please also check to see if your answer has already been posted - duplicate answers will be deleted. To search answers for this question use inquestion:this (directly from the question page) in addition to your search terms in the search box in the upper right hand corner of this page.

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.

  • 1
    As always - questions about site norms and governance are best asked on Ask Different Meta since the comments here became dominated with what's on or off-topic here or on other sites. Meta allows a more careful discussion of the problems and merits of wiki questions - both in general and in specific here. Cheers and thanks for your assistance.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 22:35

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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    And, best of all, this feature renders moot all the angst and confusion about inactive memory on OS X. Boom!
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 22:30
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    @mark I have never had swap storage issues so I can't say how well it will reduce swap allocations but the signs are promising so far.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 23:18
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    750MB for the kernel?!!!
    – sds
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 19:07
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    @bmike: What is included under kernel_task in Activity Monitor?
    – sds
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 0:17

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

enter image description here

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    Does not work in MS Word :(
    – F'x
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 15:48
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    Very few things work in MS Word - I think they use a custom text engine or something.
    – user44427
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 17:06
  • A panel opens even without a text field selected (in Finder for example), so it should be possible to drag and drop a character that way.
    – MachineElf
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 18:02
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    It is not just emoji, but a quicker better way to search for any unicode character like: 𝝀, ÷, ∪, or Δ Commented Oct 23, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 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

  • What is AppNap exactly ?
    – Render
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 11:44

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:

  • Note a slight change to the Mountain Lion address: /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Versions/A/Resources/Default Collections/
    – coco
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 3:20

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.


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.

  • Can you elaborate on how this has changed from Mountain Lion?
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 2:35
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    I wouldn't exactly call this an under documented feature. It is one of the 'tent pole' features of Mavericks. Commented Oct 23, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 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.
    – calum_b
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 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). Commented Oct 23, 2013 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.

  • I've always used a hot-corner for that, and I think I still prefer it that way.
    – Elliott
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 22:07
  • @Elliott Good thinking.
    – Simon
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 22:09
  • Not shutting the computer down when someone just taps the power button is going to make life with a cheeky 3-year-old easier! :-) Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 9:13
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    ctrl+shift+eject since (at least) 10.6
    – Drathier
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 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.
    – MachineElf
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 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

  • I'ma swipe your picture for my answer on Activity Monitor... I hope you like the source code I used to edit my post.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 4:07

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.


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.

  • You can move Desktop 1, too. In Mountain Lion, you could only move Desktop 2 and up.
    – daGUY
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 18:09
  • How did you make the GIF like that? That's clever! Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 6:04
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    @DanijelJ With LICEcap :)
    – grg
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 9:57

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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    Is this really a new / undocumented feature? Do you know if there's any connection to the battery monitoring that Undo points out?
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 2:35
  • @shog9 This is the net effect of many fundamental hidden under the hood features of Mavericks. I'm not yet sure which of the alphabet soup of features announced publicly today make this possible. This most certainly is part of the monitoring now in place to report energy use that both Undo and I have reported on this thread.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 4:20
  • I don't believe that this is a valid answer. Linking a comparison between it an Win8 doesn't show us anything about what's improved since 10.8. Give us a list of features of what's caused this improvement.
    – agweber
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 14:04
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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.
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 14:11
  • Could list; iTunes HD Playback Efficiency, Safari Power Saver, App Nap in more detail than is included from apple.com/osx/advanced-technologies
    – agweber
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 14:32

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:


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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    Don't all Cocoa apps support App Nap by default?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 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..
    – user44427
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 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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    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
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 1:28
  • Pure toy, usability disaster. The animation of hiding the windows serves no real purpose, it should be as brief as possible. Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 12:27
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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.
    – bot47
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 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.

  • It still requires them to know about and be able to find the Gatekeeper security settings though. I’m ready to bet that almost all casual users won’t be able to run non-App-Store applications because of that. Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 14:25

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.

  • I am not sure what you mean by "without downloading" but QuickLook works for PSDs in 10.8 too
    – beroe
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 14:58
  • @beroe Clearly OP means a PSD file online.
    – 4ae1e1
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 16:37
  • @beroe The quote was taken out of vital context: "downloading the PSD to your Downloads folder". …and yes, whilst QL has worked for PSDs, now they will display in Safari.
    – grg
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 16:43

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.


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

  • I've been using this quite a bit... mostly because I enjoy the live feedback.
    – Charlie74
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 19:24
  • When I checked out this panel, I found Use Enhanced Dictation was already checked, but I didn't recall it downloading the offline data. Clicking Off then On started the download… apparently.
    – Mattie
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 19:49
  • Apparently it is checked by default, but it doesn't actually download the data until the first time you use dictation.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 7:06
  • The Use Enhanced Dictation was not checked after I upgraded from Mac OS X 10.8. I also had dictation disabled in Mac OS X 10.8. The settings being upgraded may influence the initial state in Mac OS X 10.9. Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 7:51

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

  • WHOA, that is super cool!
    – cbowns
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 18:53
  • Color calculator isn't new; it's been there since 10.7 at least.
    – kirb
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 1:45
  • Thanks @kirb. Mavericks is the first time I have actively noticed the calculator. Have they changed anything in ColorSync Utility for this update? Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 9:39
  • @GrahamMiln, just compared side-by-side with 10.8; only change I could see was the new dropdown and checkbox at the bottom of the calculator.
    – kirb
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 13:27

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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    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.
    – calum_b
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 10:02
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    @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. Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 12:30
  • @KonradRudolph Maybe I didn't describe what I expected very well (and it's probably not worth trying to explain again here), but I definitely can't just drag windows onto neighbouring workspaces on the same display any more, I have to use Mission Control for that now. I can only drag windows between displays.
    – calum_b
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 14:31
  • @scottishwildcat Ah, now I see what you want. Yes, you indeed need Mission Control for that. Pity, but the old way of dragging between spaces was quite sluggish anyway. Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 17:37
  • I didn't even know you could do that, but I think thats worth losing to have a different set of Spaces for each screen.
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 17:48

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.

  • How does it transfer these? I would have originally thought AirDrop, but AirDrop on OS X is not compatible with AirDrop on iOS. Bluetooth? Some iCloud magic?
    – xdumaine
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 19:20

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


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.

  • But will it stop the issues when the girlfriend has 15 tabs with flash players open in the background... in Firefox?
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 20:08
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    @Michael No. In that case you will have to change to a newer version of girlfriend that supports Safari. Commented Oct 23, 2013 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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    This is applicable only if your dock is at the bottom (I have it on the left).
    – rm -rf
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 2:30
  • 1
    @rm-rf True; if you use the left/right options it is locked to the left/right side of the left-/right-most monitor. Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 13:56
  • @AaronDufour How do you disable this feature? Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 18:31
  • @AlexejMagura I haven't found a way to disable it. Feel free to add it if you find one. Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 19:16

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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    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. Commented Oct 24, 2013 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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 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.

  • Pressing alt works as well
    – Agos
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 13:27
  • @Agos Pressing alt has worked since forever afaik…
    – grg
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 13:39

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.

  • How to activate these menus?
    – hashier
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 17:01
  • 1
    @hashier See Terminal commands in edit.
    – grg
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 17:23
  • Do you now a defaults that activates this on ALL application? Or do you know any more applications where I can activate it?
    – hashier
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 19:54
  • @hashier Unfortunately, the key is slightly different for each app, so the -g (global) flag doesn't work… Many of Apple's apps include a debug menu, including Safari (different from the Develop menu), Disk Utility, Calendar, and many more. I seem to remember a list of apps and their relevant defaults key required to enable it, however I can't find it at the moment. Once I find it I'll edit the post and ping you - until then, Google [app name] debug menu to see if/what the command is for enabling the menu for each app. Don't forget this works for some 3rd-party apps too :)
    – grg
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 21:11
  • In Safari there's an option in the preferences to enable the Debug menu. Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 5:55

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


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.

  • Extra points if someone can find a trick to disable that. I like all my notifications and crap to be on the other monitor so I have one for pure work. Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 5:50

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