It’s hard to believe that we’re on the 11th major version of Mac OS X, but we’re here. Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite has been released and like its predecessor, it’s a FREE download if you have a compatible Mac. Also just like the last few versions of Mac OS X, Yosemite is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Although I update to stay up to date, I also look at each version to see “what will this new Mac OS X do for me?” There are usually hundreds of new features/tweaks. However, there are usually only a handful that impact my day to day use. Yosemite is no different. There are a few features that I really like and I’ll use daily! Here are my top 10 favorite features in Mac OS X Yosemite:
AirDrop to iOS Devices
Apple has had AirDrop in both Mac OS X and iOS for a while. However, for reasons only known to Apple the two never talked to each other. My guess was the lack of a file system in iOS. However, now with Yosemite and iOS 8 you can send files back and forth wirelessly without them having to be on the same network! I used to use the app PhotoSync for this almost on a a daily basis, but it was difficult in places like hotel rooms if I was on the hotel WiFi. Since AirDrop doesn’t require the devices to be on the same network/subnet I can use it just about anywhere and for more than just photos and videos.
Markup in Mail
I’m always sending people screenshots and photos. If I want to point something out on those images I would normally have to open them up in Photoshop first and draw on them before attaching them to an email. Now I can do this right in Mail! Besides standard markups you can even add your signature to it.
Display and Record iOS Devices on your Mac
There is a GREAT App for the Mac called Reflector that allows you to use AirPlay to display your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch on your Mac. This is great for presentations or recording iOS/App tutorials. The problem is that Reflector not only relies on a fast WiFi connection, but your Mac and iOS devices also have to be on the same subnet on that WiFi network. This is not a problem when it’s your router, but if you’re on a public WiFi network or work network then the peer to peer communications may be blocked. Now with Yosemite you can plug your iDevice in via a USB cable and display it with the QuickTime Player. This of course eliminates the need for a WiFi network and the performance will be consistent. Just plug your iPhone/iPad in to your Mac and bring up the QuickTime Player. Choose New Recording from the File menu. Lastly choose your iDevice from the device menu located just to right of the Record button. Your iDevice will appear on your Mac in real-time and you can present and even record a movie if you want.
Making/Receiving Calls on your Mac
While this is a new feature to Mac OS X Yosemite, it’s not really a new feature on the Mac. Yes back in the pre-smarphone days you used to be able to link your cellphone with the Mac via bluetooth and yes actually bring up a number in the Address Book and have it dial your phone. However, back then it was just a glorified dialer. Now with Yosemite if your iPhone (running iOS 8) rings, it will also start ringing on your Mac. If you want to take the call on your Mac just click answer. You can take your call without having to touch your iPhone. This also works for placing calls. Just highlight the number you wish to dial and click the menu to call it using your iPhone. Again you’re using your Mac as a speakerphone without having to actually touch your iPhone.
If you have an iDevice running iOS 8 and Yosemite on your Mac you can now handoff documents that you may have started on your iPad or iPhone to your Mac. Sure you could have always saved a document to a network storage such as Dropbox and opened it on your Mac, but now this happens seamlessly in real-time without having to do all those steps. Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendars and Contacts. Yes it will work with 3rd party apps to if developers build support in for it. I noticed the latest version of Chrome for iOS worked with it. Just start a process in one of these compatible apps on your iOS device and you’ll see an icon to the far left of your Dock. If want to take over the task on your Mac just click the icon. This is really cool when you start to respond to an email on your iPhone and you realize you’re going to need to give a longer more detailed response. Just tap the icon and the message you were writing will close on your iPhone and open right up on your Mac so that you can just continue typing.
SMS messages on your Mac and iPad
Until now you’ve had the Message app on your Mac and iPad and it was great as long as you were messaging someone else with an Apple device. However, if you received an SMS text message (green bubbles) on your iPhone you could only see it and respond to it on your iPhone. Now with Yosemite and iOS 8.1 you will be able to receive and respond to these messages on your Mac or your iPad.
Intelligent Batch File Renaming
I often need to rename photos on my Mac, but the catch is I only want to change part of the name. When I do an edit in Photoshop from Lightroom the file comes back to Lightroom with the word Edit on it. That’s great, but when I export these photos for web and another batch for print, I want to keep the original file number, but change the word Edit to either Web or Print. I was using Adobe Bridge CC for this since it does have Batch Rename with String Substitution, but now I can do it right in the Finder. Just select the files and right click on them. Choose Rename from the contextual menu and simply change the text you wish to change and the rest of the file name will remain intact.
A Better Spotlight
Spotlight is one of the fastest ways to launch files. In Yosemite it’s now front and center. In Yosemite spotlight steps outside your Mac and searches the web too. While that’s cool, I can already do that in my browser. What I like here is more and better previews of the content that comes up in the search results.
Hmm, ok – better late than never I guess. Cloud based storage is EVERYWHERE! I’ve had Dropbox (now with 2 terabytes of storage) for years. I have Adobe Creative Cloud and Google Drive as well. When I heard that Apple was finally going to allow people to use their iCloud storage more freely I thought, “good.”. So why is this one of my 10? While having the other cloud storage services that i use daily is good, nothing beats having it integrated into the OS. I imagine that in the not too distant future every application both on Mac and iOS will have no reason not to talk to (support) iCloud Drive. While many apps support Dropbox, not all of them do. I’m looking at this feature as one that will have great potential. Today it’s just another cloud storage folder on my Mac, but hopefully soon it will be my goto one for all all things Mac and iOS. You still get 5GBs for free and now the price is a lot better (still not as good as 3rd parties) for more. I went with the 200GB option for $3.99/month. This gives me plenty of space to backup both my iPhone and iPad to iCloud as well as plenty of space for documents.
Notification Center Widgets
I use Dashboard everyday to check stocks, weather and the time in different time zones. These things can now be done in the Notification center and I expect the list of widgets to grow. Ultimately it will replace my use of Dashboard.
The Bottom Line
When I look back at Mavericks and now at Yosemite I can easily say that there are definitely more features in Yosemite that impact my daily Mac use than were in Mavericks.
You can get Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite here for free from the