Surviving Mavericks: 5 tips for getting Apple’s new Mac OS to do what you need

mavericksWhile Apple’s new, free update to OS X has brought a bunch of new features (who’s up for some Finder file tagging?), there are also some things that don’t work the way you might expect. If you’re someone who relies on your Mac to operate exactly as planned to get work done, these minor annoyances could turn into major problems.

So, here are five tips for weathering the transition to Mavericks:

Privacy and Assistive Device Access

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 2.51.31 PMTo get access to your whole system, a number of powerful, reputable apps use permissions afforded to assistive devices to get the job done. In the past, apps like TextExpander and RescueTime required checking a box in System Preferences’s Accessibility pane that allowed access for assistive devices. But, since that system was so open to abuse, Apple changed the way they did things and added a panel to the Security and Privacy preference pane to allow or disallow access for those apps.

While Mavericks will point you in the right direction when you first start running an app that requires assistive device access, it’s easy to accidentally dismiss the popup that gets you there. If you don’t offer your apps the right permissions, they can’t run, even if they’ve been working for you in previous versions of Apple’s OS.

To give those apps control, go into System Preferences > Security & Privacy, then click on the Privacy tab. In the left-hand sidebar, one of the categories you’ll see is labeled “Accessibility.” Open that, then check off the boxes next to the apps you want to grant access to. If the checkboxes are greyed out, unlock the preference pane by clicking on the lock in the lower left hand corner and try again.

While you’re there, you can also take a peek at what other services different apps have access to, like Facebook, Twitter and location data.

Stretch windows across multiple monitors

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While Apple has added the ability to get the Dock and menu bar for an app in a second window, that capability comes with an added restriction: no more stretching an app across multiple screens. Now, if you want to take a massive spreadsheet and stretch it across a trio of monitors like you’re used to doing under Mountain Lion, there’s still hope.

Go to System Preferences > Mission Control, and un-check “Displays have separate Spaces.” While you’ll miss out on some of the added benefits of Mavericks, like being able to maintain separate menu bars across the displays, you will be able to let windows straddle the border between two screens.

Scheduling quirks

One of the much-touted features of Mavericks’s updated Calendar app is its integration with Apple’s Maps app. While the ability to get a reminder when you need to leave in order to get to your destination is great, getting that destination into your calendar can be a bit of a challenge. While Apple’s existing implementation makes short work of addresses, it can have a hard time with lesser-known small businesses.

If you know the address for, say, your hairdresser, I’d recommend just adding it to their card in Contacts, or creating a separate contact for that favorite little hole-in-the-wall music store. That way, when you know where you have to go, it’ll be easy for Calendar to catch up. If you don’t remember the address off hand, it’s easy to go into the new Maps app, search for what you’re looking for, and add it to your contacts with a couple clicks.

Notification Center

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One of the new features in Mavericks is the ability to see notifications from Notification Center on your computer’s lock screen. (If you don’t have your computer set up to require a password from sleep or screensaver, you should. Here’s how.) While that can be nice in certain situations, it can also be really annoying if you don’t want everyone who happens to jostle your Mac’s mouse to know that somebody new has followed you on Twitter.

To toggle which notifications appear when your computer is locked, open up the Notifications pane in System Preferences, then click on the different apps available, and toggle the “Show notifications on lock screen” setting off. Sadly, there’s not an easy way to turn everything off at once, and if you add a new notification source, you’ll have to repeat this process for the new app.

Make mobile iWork files backwards compatible

IMG_1198While the new version of iWork is free for anyone who owned a copy of iWork ’09 (even if you didn’t buy it through the Mac App Store), the apps run on a new version of Apple’s proprietary file formats that aren’t compatible with older versions of iWork.

Because of the autosave system put in place for Lion, there’s a decent chance that once you open a file in the new version of iWork, any chances of getting to it in a backwards-compatible format are next to zero, unless you pull an older version from a backup system that saves multiple revisions, like Time Machine. If you use any of the iWork mobile apps to access documents, they’ll ask you before converting a document from the old format to the new one, but you have to make the switch in order to edit it on your iPhone or iPad.

What’s worse, while there’s a way to export a document to iWork ’09 on the Mac, there’s no way of doing that from iOS or iCloud.

That’s bad news for people who rely on features in iWork ’09 to get things done. The good news is, Microsoft can come to the rescue…ish. More accurately, it’s possible to export from iWork to a Microsoft Office file format like .doc, and then re-import that Office file into iWork ’09. It’s not a great choice for documents that rely on precision formatting, but if you’re just looking to get access to a basic spreadsheet or essay for a particular reason, it’s a usable workaround.

To do that on iOS, open the document in question, tap on the wrench in the upper right hand corner of the screen, then select Share and Print > Open in Another App, choose Word from the formats available, and then pick what other app you want to deliver the file to. Sadly, it’s not possible to email it directly, but you can get it to Dropbox, Google Drive, and other storage services that you have an app for on your iPhone or iPad.

So, there you have it: five tips to surmount Mavericks’s hurdles. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, here’s my guide for what to do before you upgrade.

  • Kevin

    Have any tips for getting MS Office for Mac to work under Maverick?

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      I’d first try uninstalling and re-installing it. If you’re using an old version of Office, it might have some issues. I’m an iWork user myself, so I don’t have any insights.

      • Kevin

        The solution my daughter’s Collage campus has come up with, is to import the Word doc into Google Docs and use Google Docs.

      • Songthrush

        During installation, the installer paused to tell me specifically that MS Office (Power PC versions 2004) would *not* work under Mavericks. Still deciding whether to continue.

        • Jett79

          Snow Leopard was the last OS that was able to use Power PC programs that utilize Rosetta. If you want to use any version of OS X past 10.6 you’ll have to get Office 2008 or newer. Intel based applications still work just fine.

  • Unhappy Bunny

    Ever since I installed Maverick, sites I used to access easily from Safari don’t work (having to switch to Google chrome) and I can no longer read lots of email messages stored in topic folders. It’s a nightmare!! I’m not a happy bunny.

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      Are you using Gmail? There’s a known bug with Gmail doing unfortunate things with Mail.app. Joe Kissell has a good guide here: http://tidbits.com/article/14219

  • Lee

    I am having huge internet issues after installing Maverick. I have to refresh my URL searches 4 to 6 times to get to the site I want. I have tried both Safari and Firefox and both brewers are having the same problem.

  • Bolota

    After installing Maverick, I have been unable to use Word (Student MS Office version). Does anyone have any suggestions on how to solve this?

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      Have you tried uninstalling and re-installing Office?

    • Jett79

      What year is it? Anything older than Word 2008 won’t work. Starting with Lion, older PowerPC applications that use Rosetta no longer function. If you want to use an operating system newer than OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) you’ll have to get Office 2008 or newer.

  • Kathie Behm

    I updated to Maverick yesterday….now Candy Crush on Facebook is asking me for an adobe flash player. I downloaded to no avail. No big deal, but did waste a lot of time on this game.

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      Kathie, that may have something to do with this change to how Flash is handled in Safari: http://www.geekwire.com/2013/flash-safari-sandboxed-mavericks

      Have you run the installer in the disk image you downloaded to update Flash? If you have, I’d try re-downloading from http://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/downloads.html, and re-installing, and see if that works.

      • Kathie Behm

        Thank you for your help. I was able to access my game on Chrome and for now I will do that. I did reinstall adobe. Think it is one of those new programming glitches. Gonna give it some more time. Happy with Mavericks so far.

  • Margari

    What happened to the notepad message feature in Apple Mail in the new Mavericks operating system?

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      I’m not familiar with the functionality you’re talking about, but if you’re looking for notes, you might try Notes.app in your Applications folder.

  • AM

    screen saver doesn’t work now

    • Patrick Ira DonEgan

      the screen saver works fine for me.

  • hawkins

    I created an Automator Watch Me Do app. It doesn’t appear in the Privacy/Accessibility window therefore it won’t run. I can’t drag it in there either. Please advise. Thanks……

  • nick

    Two things I haven’t figured out. It used to display hard drive availability at the bottom of folders, but I can’t find that setting in Maverick. The second thing is my chrome can’t search from the address bar anymore. I’ve tried reinstalling, and changing search settings, but no luck.

    • Morgan

      Just ran across this problem that I’m sure you’ve figured out but you go to finder then preferences. You can choose what to show in the sidebar, including the hard drive.

  • Pablo Benjes

    Hugely disappointing update to the MAIL program. My company is tied to Google gmail and unfortunately since the change, my mail has been nothing but trouble…after installing Maverick I experienced a 3 day down time while my 53k archived e-mail’s synced with Maverick. My mail has not been the same. After 10 visits to the Genius bar….still no luck. My mail has finally caught up but if I unplug for over 12 hours I am to expect at least a few hours of ‘catch up’ time. I’m having to say goodbye to system based mail and moving to HTML. It’s an unfortunate change that I was not expecting from Apple.

  • Shoo

    Since upgrading to Maverick I can’t open word / excel docs from finder, but i can if I open the MS Office program first. I have tried re-installing and get the same problem. Please does anyone have a fix?

    • Andrew

      I have a similar problem with printing images from Preview… If you try to print a picture from Finder it tries to print but Preview fails to find a printer and quits, however if I have preview open before I try to print it it works fine.

  • om

    With Maverick MS Office freezes a lot…

  • Jerry

    Any tips on how to pause the screensaver slideshow tin Mavericks to check out a passing photo. Spacebar used to do it.

  • Phil

    this isn’t a maverick question but any help would be appreciated am running 10.8.5 and Word/Excell for mac 2011. After updating the mac OS it opens word docs, shows formatting but doesn’t show any words. I can see them in a small preview window but not in the open document. Sucks….

  • Ken

    Hi,
    I have microsoft office 2004, and want to update to get OSX Maverick so we can use Icloud and other features. Any suggestions on affordable updates for my microsoft software to work with OSX? I already increased my ram for my 2007 Mac, The genius bar was not clear on best way to update Microsoft suite software

    • Patrick Ira DonEgan

      Update to the latest version of Office.

  • Neil Paisnel

    Nice to have the new menu bars on each screen…but now we can’t have windows straddling multiple screens..or we straddle screens and don’t have multiple menu bars…
    What they give with one hand they take away with another.

    Yes I could see that there maybe an issue with WHICH menu bar to display where if straddling multiple screens..but surely the Active Window would be the menu bar to display.
    Now lost iSync too…grrrrr.. stayed with 10.6.8 till last week..Did not like what they did to contact/mail and notes ..plus other annoyances. but had to make the leap to 10.9..