Apple's delivering some big changes to OS X. For the first time in over a decade, Apple’s desktop operating system has received a complete overhaul, leaving no pixel unturned. In OS X Yosemite, everything from the dock to the “stoplight” buttons have been given a visual makeover, but the changes in Yosemite go far below the surface. Even without any new apps to play with, Apple has given us plenty of things to explore, with an array of features that make OS X more intuitive and powerful than ever before. But if you could use some help adjusting to your new surroundings, pull up a chair and let us help you out.
Today View in Notification Center
OS X and iOS have been converging for years, and Yosemite brings the tightest integration yet, from the way we share documents to how our data stays synced across all of our devices. But Apple has also has added a slew of minor adjustments to bring the two OSes in line. For example, head over to the Notification Center and you'll find a new Today tab that mirrors the one in iOS, providing a short summary and a quick glance at the day ahead.
Streamlined Toolbar for Safari
Like the rest of Apple's apps, Safari has received a serious makeover, losing many of its defining desktop characteristics and taking on a decidedly iOS feel. Here’s a quick overview: The "add bookmark" icon has been incorporated into the expanded share menu (which matches the iOS icon now), and you’ll find a Top Sites toggle when you enter the tab view (which also houses all of your iCloud tabs). But if all that’s too much to remember, a trip to the view settings will still let you customize the toolbar and put everything back the way you remember it.
Smarter Spotlight Search
Spotlight has been greatly enhanced in Yosemite, evolving from a simple system searcher to a full-fledged informant always at the ready. Just press Command-Space and a giant search field will automatically pop up in the middle of the screen. Of course, you can still use it to hunt for long-lost files hidden in dark corners of your hard drive, but now it can find just about anything else you may be looking for: maps, trailers, definitions, songs, phone numbers — even pictures of yellow-bellied sapsuckers, if that's what you're into.
Find your Safari Favorites
The bookmark bar has been a staple of the desktop browser since the days of Internet Explorer, but Apple has ditched it in Safari 8 for a cleaner browsing experience. Of course, you can still get to them via the dropdown menu or the sidebar, but Apple has given us a much easier method in Yosemite: just click inside the address bar and a grid of your favorites will automatically pop up. And if that’s still not good enough, you can bring back the old-fashioned bar in the View settings.
See All of Your Open Tabs
Tabs have always been an indispensable part of our multitasking workflow, but Yosemite will make us more productive than ever. Where the old system merely let us browse two or three sites at once, Safari’s new tabbed view radically rethinks the way we interact with them. With a nod to iOS, a click on the new tabs icon instantly brings you into a screen where you can see all of the open tabs on your machine, all arranged neatly and grouped by site so you can quickly switch between them.
Use DuckDuckGo to Search
Speaking of privacy, Apple has added a new search option in Safari. Click the magnifying class to the left of the address bar and you’ll be able to select the speedy and spy-free DuckDuckGo instead of Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
Show the Full Web Address
In its constant effort to take away any and all distractions from the browsing experience, Apple has stripped the Web address down to its barest essentials in OS X. Instead of a lengthy Web URL with hyphens and slashes, Safari on Yosemite distills it to only shows you the main site you're on until you click into the address field. If you want to see the whole field, however, head over to the Advanced tab in preferences to turn it on.
RSS Feeds in Safari
Safari has never been a friend to RSS feeds, but Yosemite finally extends an olive branch. No longer do you need to install a third-party reader to enjoy your feeds; at the bottom of the shared-links pane you'll find a new Subscriptions button. Click it and you’ll be brought to a screen where you can add an RSS feed from the site you’re reading (assuming it has one).
Record Audio in Message
Sometimes words just aren't good enough to express what we want to say, and in Yosemite they don't have to be. Just like in iOS 8, you’ll see a new microphone icon next to the compose window in Messages. Click and you’ll instantly be able to record an audio message and ship it as easily as you can on your iPhone.
Share Your Screen in Messages
Back in the days of iChat, Apple used to allow us to share our screens or let us take control of someone else's, and in Yosemite it's finally bringing the functionality to Messages. Inside the details menu you'll see a new icon that looks like two overlapping squares. Click on it and you'll see two options: "invite to share my screen" and "ask to share screen," which will help when you need to troubleshoot your mom’s iMac.
Turn on iCloud Drive
Back when iOS 8 was released, you might have heard all of the warnings about using iCloud Drive. Once you upgrade to Yosemite, however, there’s no reason not to turn it on. Just head over to System Preferences and flip the iCloud Drive toggle to green and you’ll get access to all of your documents, faster and easier than before. And don’t forget to activate it on your iPhone and iPad, too.