Yesterday Apple released the newest version of its Mac operating system - OS X Yosemite. It is numerically OS 10.10. It is free and available in the Mac App Store (Apple menu > App Store…).
In this blog I will give an overview of Yosemite’s features and suggest a procedure to make sure you Mac is ready for the upgrade before you actually install Yosemite.
Before we get started, as of this writing (about a day after Yosemite was released), I have not heard of any major bugs or issues with it. However, if you want to play it safe, wait a week or two before upgrading. Yosemite had over one million Beta (prototype) users around the world so Apple had a lot more field testing on this version than ever before. That should prove a good thing for the quality of this first release of Yosemite.
Yosemite is not radically different than its predecessor, Mavericks, however it sports a new look and has some very nice new features. The look is described as “flat” and when you see it that may be your reaction. Modern OS X versions have had subtle shading around icons that gave them a slightly 3D look. This shading was so subtle that you probably did not notice, but in Yosemite all of that shading is gone and everything looks flat and, frankly, stark. The font throughout the OS has been changed to a very simple one, which is an improvement. As for features that are new with Yosemite, here are the highlights:
- Handoff - seamlessly start an email or a paper or a spreadsheet on one of your Apple devices and continue working on it on another. For example, have you ever started an email on your phone and realized you just have too much to say to type it on that little keyboard? Well now, when you walk up to your Mac it will know you are writing an email and allow you to finish that email on your Mac! Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Keynote, Numbers, and Pages.
- FaceTime - Make or receive a phone call from your Mac (as long as you have an iPhone using iOS 8.1 or higher and it is on the same wifi network as your Mac). When your iPhone rings, so will your Mac and your iPad - answer the call from any device! Also, if you visit a website on your Mac and want to call the company, simply click the phone number on the site and your Mac will place the call (through your iPhone). Your call history is also synced to all of your Apple devices.
- iCloud Drive - Apple’s version of a file syncing service like Dropbox. Have all of your documents available on all your devices. This does use part of your skimpy 5GB of iCloud storage that is largely used to back up your iPhone and iPad, but you can buy more storage very cheaply now (20GB is only $0.99 per month - that ought to be enough storage).
- Messages - although the ability to text (iMessage) other Apple users from your Mac has been available for a couple of years, Yosemite brings the ability to text any user (even the pesky non-Apple users) right from your Mac. Yes, it actually passes the text to your iPhone which handles the communication, but it is seamless to you.
There are certainly more new features in Yosemite, but those are my favorites. To read about all of the new features click here: http://www.apple.com/osx/all-features/
My theory in upgrading any device is to make sure it is healthy and backed up before upgrading. Its kind of like making sure a patient is healthy before undergoing surgery. I think these steps are often overlooked and people that don’t take them are the ones that post rants on the Internet about the upgrade going badly.
First, let’s make sure your Mac will successfully run Yosemite. Go to Apple menu > About this Mac and make sure your Mac has at least 4GB of “memory”. Although Apple says 2GB is the minimum, you will not be happy with a Mac running Yosemite with 2GB of memory. If you need more memory, contact me, I can help.
Next, if your Mac is running OS X 10.8 or 10.9, it can run Yosemite (you can also find this on Apple menu > About this Mac). If your Mac is running OS X 10.7 or earlier, it may not. Here is a list of compatible Macs: http://www.apple.com/osx/how-to-upgrade/
Now, let’s get your Mac ready to upgrade.
- Go to the Apple menu > Software Update. Do this over and over until your Mac tells you that there are no more updates.
- Go to the menu bar near the clock and find your Time Machine backup icon. Choose Backup Now and let it finish. If you do not have a backup for your Mac, contact me. Backups are like seat belts for your Mac - they may save your data (including pictures & documents) if something unexpected happens.
- Once the backup finishes, Quit all apps using Command-Q (remember, using the red dot does not usually close the app, it only closes the app’s window).
- Finally, Apple menu > Restart. Uncheck the box that says, “Reopen windows when logging back in."
- Once your Mac restarts go to Apple menu > App Store… Click on the Updates tab along the top of that window and choose to upgrade to Yosemite.
This upgrade is big - over 5GB, so it will take some time to download. Once downloaded an “Install OS X Yosemite” app will run. Follow its instructions and wait for the hour + installation to complete. You cannot use your Mac during the installation.
Once the installation is complete your Mac will restart using Yosemite. It will ask a few easy questions on startup and then you can start using your Mac. Enjoy Yosemite!