While 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
To 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
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.
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.
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
While 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.
Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.