You’ve just downloaded Yosemite, Apple’s latest update to the Mac platform. There’s a lot that’s familiar, but a number of features still look, feel, and function differently. If you haven’t already been using the public beta, it can be a lot to take in. Lucky for you, we’ve got a primer.
We’ve selected 10 Yosemite features that will change the way you use your Mac. Some you may recognize, particularly if you’ve followed our previous Yosemite coverage, but now that Yosemite and iOS 8 are live for all, there are a few more features Apple’s rolled out.
Your Mac Is Now Also a Phone
You can send and receive SMS, MMS, and iMessages from your Mac, as well as phone calls, if you’re on the same Wi-Fi network as your iPhone.
Beginning with OS X Mountain Lion, we’ve been able to send iMessages back and forth with other iOS users whether on an iOS device or a Mac, while FaceTime (introduced in 2010) lets us make video calls on either platform. With Yosemite, you can send and receive SMS messages from friends on your Mac, as well as make phone calls. As long as both your Mac and iPhone are on the same WiFi network, calls will get forwarded to your Mac, so you can answer them there if it’s more convenient. And if you don’t have time to chat, you can send an iMessage or SMS.
Sign a PDF Using Your Trackpad
No need to download a PDF Editor, Preview lets you sign docs with your trackpad or camera.
Put away the scanner, fax machine, paper, and pen. You can save your signature in Preview after drawing it on your trackpad. Open Preview, then go to Tools > Annotate > Signature > Manage Signatures. You can use your trackpad to capture your signature, or use your Mac’s iSight camera to take a picture of your signature on an existing doc. From then on, when you tap the Sign button in Preview, or go to the Signature section in the Tools menu, you can select your signature to paste into a PDF.
Mail’s Markup Annotation Tools
Mail’s Markup tool is a convenient way to draw on and annotate email attachments.
Someone sent you a photo or a document, and you’ve got a few notes you want to make. With Yosemite, you don’t need a separate photo editor. You can use Mail’s Markup feature. If someone sends an attachment, click the dropdown arrow in the upper right of the image, then select Markup. There, a menu opens over the top of the image that lets you draw, insert shapes like squares, circles, and arrows, add your signature, or input some text. Then you can shoot the file back to its recipient, without ever having to leave the Mail app. It’s convenient, and kind of fun too.
Handoff lets you pick up where you left off when you switch devices, in a variety of apps.
With iOS 8 and Yosemite, you can easily stop what you’re doing, be it browsing in Safari, writing a text, or an email, and pick back up right where you left off on another Apple device. If you start surfing in Safari on your iPhone, for example, when you hop on your Mac, an extra Safari icon will tack onto the edge of your dock with a small iPhone symbol in its corner. Tap it, and you’re taken to the exact page you were reading on your mobile. Conversely, this works from Mac to iOS, too, with an icon showing in the bottom left of the device’s screen. Third party apps will begin integrating this soon, making it even more useful.
Whether you’re looking for a file, a fact, or a place to eat, Spotlight is a robust and useful tool for your needs.
Press the command-spacebar shortcut, or tap the magnifying glass icon in the upper right of your Mac’s display, and you summon Spotlight, Apple’s system-wide search tool. In Yosemite, Spotlight goes beyond the file system though, tapping into Maps, Wikipedia, Mail, and your web history to cull answers to your search queries. Type in a restaurant name, and it pulls up the establishment’s information and ratings from Yelp, a map of its location, and any calendar events that have or will take place there. Type in a band name, and you get options to check out their albums on iTunes, music files on your computer, their Wikipedia page, and more. It’s often quicker and more informative than opening up the browser and doing a Google search.
Today View With Extensions
Swipe from the right of the screen and you get a look at the day’s events, plus handy widgets.
You still access Notification Center the same as always, with a two finger swipe from the right edge of your trackpad, or by clicking its icon in the upper right of the screen. But now, Notification Center is even more useful and powerful thanks to customizable widgets. You can arrange the order of things like the day’s upcoming calendar events, the weather, stocks, your reminders, and third party widgets, too (which should be entering the Mac App Store any moment now).
Silence chatty group threads, and share your screen, with Apple’s new Messages app.
Messages in Yosemite gains one of the features that also makes it great in iOS 8: the ability to bow out of super chatty group threads. You can mute a thread temporarily, or you can leave a conversation altogether. Messages on the desktop also gives you the ability to screenshare with the person you’re chatting with, if you want to share something cool on your desktop, or help troubleshoot a relative’s tech issues.
Whether you’re working in shadows or just prefer a darker aesthetic, Dark Mode is useful and
One of the first things I did when I started using Yosemite was go into System Preferences > General and select Dark mode, a checkbox under the Appearance tab. Dark mode switches the chrome at the top and bottom of the screen from a lighter translucent grey, to a translucent black. It’s easy on the eyes, and may mesh better with your system depending on the colors of your desktop background than the default.
Yosemite offers a lot of options for those with text size, display contrast, or other viewing and
Yosemite offers a number of different settings you can tweak, whether you are particular about the way your screen looks, or if you have visual or audio needs. You can adjust the level of transparency on menu bars, contrast levels on the display, text size, and cursor size. There are also a variety of VoiceOver and Dictation options that carry over from older versions of OS X.
Record Your iDevice’s Screen
For sharing tips, or your sweet Infinity Blade moves, you can record your iOS device’s screen as a video file in Yosemite.
Plug your iOS device into your Yosemite-running Mac via its Lightning cable, open QuickTime, then go to File > New Movie Recording. Select your iDevice from the dropdown menu next to the record button, and hit record. Now you can easily record what’s happening on your iOS device screen using your Mac. To stop recording, just hit the record button again. This capability could be useful for capturing some epic game moves, for showing a friend or family member how to adjust a setting on their device, or for documenting a glitch that’s plaguing your machine.
QuickType Auto Predictions
Apple’s QuickType auto predictions, while more entertaining than accurate, are available in some Yosemite apps by hitting the escape button
By learning your typing habits, iOS 8’s QuickType is supposed to be able to accurately predict your next words and phrases. While the quality of its abilities are debatable, QuickType isn’t actually limited to iOS. In Yosemite applications like TextEdit, you can hit the escape button to get auto-suggestions of the next word to type, then you hit spacebar to select. You can hit escape at any point in typing a word to get an autocomplete suggestion, which is handy. And by just hitting escape and the space bar, you can create some entertaining autocomplete sentences.