1. New Spotlight search
Spotlight received a significant overhaul with Apple’s introduction of OS X Yosemite, making it more powerful and useful than ever before. Press Cmd+Space and the new Spotlight search bar will appear on the screen. Just as in the previous version, it’s possible to search through your files in real time, but what’s really useful is it will now do currency conversions, simple calculations and word or phrase definitions. What’s more, the searches provide interactive previews, which means you can do all sorts of things – send emails, make phone calls – right within Spotlight.
2. Sign your name with the trackpad
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If you’d like to put your signature in a text document at the end of an email or even overlay it on to an image, you’re in luck. Preview now has a feature that allows you to scribble your signature using your laptop’s (or an external) touch pad. Let’s say you want to sign a document that’s in PDF format. First, open the PDF using Preview. Then, click the Toolbox icon in the top right corner. A new Markup Toolbar will appear. Now click the Sign icon, which looks like a small signature and is located next to the Text icon. Click Create Signature and follow the on screen instructions.
3. Dark Mode
Yosemite comes with a Dark Mode, which can be accessed by going to System Preferences > General and checking the ‘Use dark menu bar and Dock’ box. This significantly changes the look of Yosemite. The menu bar and its drop-down menus will now be a dark, slightly translucent charcoal colour. Almost every app you use will now have dark menus. The Dock will also be notably darker, but like the menu bar it will also retain some of its translucency. This is a great feature that can help battle excessive glare from your screen, plus it looks pretty good too.
4. New Maps
Apple Maps is still in many ways inferior to Google Maps, but recent updates mean it might be worth taking another look at what’s on offer. The most useful feature is the traffic option. Open Maps and click the menu on the bottom left of the screen before clicking Show Traffic. You’ll now get live traffic updates on many major roads across the UK, including road closures and road maintenance. There’s also a 3D mode. Click the 3D button in the middle of the compass on the bottom right of the screen and the viewing angle will tilt. For the best effect, you should also click the satellite button in the top right corner. Major landmarks and buildings can now be seen in 3D. Search for a large city, such as London, and a 3D Flyover button will appear. Clicking the button will provide an impressive bird’s-eye tour of the city.
5. Rename large groups of files
This feature is small, but it’s a fantastic time saver. If you’ve ever had a large amount of files that you’d like to rename, you’ll know that it can be tedious clicking on each separate file and typing in the new names individually. In Yosemite, it’s possible to rename these files’ en masse. Click, drag and highlight the files you want to rename, right click your selection and click ‘Rename X Items’, with ‘X’ denoting the amount of files selected. This brings up a window, which has a list of naming options. From here you can replace the text entirely, add text before or after the original file names or format the text in a number of different ways. For instance, you can index each file and/or add a custom name. So let’s say you’ve selected fifty image files and you want to rename them Photo 1, Photo 2, etc. Simply select all fifty, setup a name and index format and Yosemite will fill the rest in for you.
6. Disconnect from a network without turning Wi-Fi off
Holding down the alt key while clicking on the Wi-Fi icon on the top right of your menu bar will provide a list of extra options and information. One of those options allows you to disconnect from a network without shutting off your Wi-Fi altogether. This is useful if you’d still like Wi-Fi networks to be discoverable, but for whatever reason you do not want to be connected to the network you’re currently using. In previous versions of OS X you could only turn Wi-Fi on or off from the menu bar, with any additional control or information requiring users to root through System Preferences, which was both inconvenient and a bit of a faff. The menu also displays useful technical information related to the network you’re connected to, such as your Router Security, IP Address, PHY Mode and Country Code Our Planetary.
7. Quick Type
Quick Type, which was recently implemented in Apple’s mobile platforms, is also present in Yosemite. For the uninitiated, Quick Type suggests words or phrases that you’re probably going to type next, based on your past conversations and writing style. Any time you’re typing in an app created by Apple, such as Pages, you can press the Escape key halfway through the word or phrase and a list of options will appear, allowing you to select the correct one. This may or may not increase your typing speed, it probably requires a bit of getting used to at first before it truly becomes particularly helpful, but it’s nice to see some iOS 8 features making their way to the desktop.
8. Close Safari tabs on other Apple devices
Yosemite and iOS 8 saw the introduction of a lot more connectivity between your Apple devices, which Apple has dubbed ‘Continuity’. If you open Safari on your Mac you’ll see there’s a new ‘Show all tabs’ icon in the top right hand corner, next to the New Tab button. Clicking show all tabs will reveal the tabs you have open on your Mac, but if you also have an iPhone or an iPad, it will display any tabs you’ve left open on those devices too. This also works the other way around – any tabs left open on your Mac can be viewed in your iOS device. With this feature, you essentially gain very limited remote control over your Mac, iPad or iPhone. Perfect if you’ve got some sensitive or embarrassing web pages open on your loaned iPad and you weren’t sure whether you closed them down or if you want to pick up your browsing from where you left off on another device.
9. New RSS and search features in Safari
RSS (Rich Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication) feeds are now particularly pleasant and intuitive to use in the latest version of Safari, which was part of the Yosemite update. Click the RSS feed you wish to subscribe to and Safari will ask if you want to add it to your Shared Links page. Click add and then click the Show Sidebar icon on the top left of the browser, next to the forward and back buttons. From here, you can click the @ symbol and view all of your feeds, including stories that are being shared by your friends on social media, which has been available since Mavericks. Click the Subscriptions button at the bottom to manually add or remove feeds. While functionality is limited, there are some people who won’t need anything more sophisticated than this, which means you might not need to use third party feed readers anymore if you don’t need anything fancy.
10. Mail Drop
Mail Drop allows you to send large email attachments by uploading your content to iCloud. Simply drag whatever file you’d like to attach and, provided you have enough space on the cloud, you can send files well over your mail client’s limit. If the recipient is also using Yosemite, it will appear as a regular attachment (even though it is actually on the cloud). If the receiver does not have Yosemite, they will instead be provided with a link from which they can download the attachment.
11. Record your iPhone Screen
If you’ve ever wanted to record your iPhone’s screen, this is the easiest and quickest way to do it. First, you’ll need both the latest version of Yosemite and iOS 8. Next, connect your phone to your Mac with a lightning cable. Then, open QuickTime and Select File > New Movie Recording. You should now be presented with your own face, because Yosemite defaults to your front facing camera. To change this, click the down arrow next to the red record button and change the camera from FaceTime HD Camera to your iPhone. Now when you push record, you’ll be recording your iPhone’s screen.
12. Share your screen
Sharing your screen is a breeze in Yosemite, provided both you and the person you’re trying to share with is using Apple’s Messages app. Open your contact’s message window and select the Details button on the top right hand corner. In the new window that pops up, you’ll see a share screen icon, which is next to the FaceTime and Call icons. Click the icon to share your screen and a request will be sent to your contact, which you can stipulate to either share your screen or to request access to theirs. This is really useful if you’re trying to show someone how to solve a problem they might be having with their Mac, or where they can find specific, buried settings.
13. Answer and make phone calls on your Mac
If someone calls you on your iPhone, you can answer the call on your Mac provided you’re using iOS 8 and have the latest version of Yosemite installed. This is another component of Yosemite’s Continuity, which seeks to seamlessly connect all of your Apple devices in various different ways. If you can’t receive calls on your Mac despite having the latest version of iOS and OS X, make sure you’re signed into the same iCloud account on all devices. You will also need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network and be signed into FaceTime. Wi-Fi calling also needs to be turned off on your phone which, if you have it, can be found in Settings > Phone. Making a call is as easy as accepting one, just open your contacts folder and click their phone number. If you find all of this too intrusive, you can stop calls from coming via your Mac by opening the FaceTime app and clicking FaceTime > Preferences and deselecting iPhone Cellular Calls.
14. Mute messages in Yosemite
Here’s another feature that was first made available on iOS that has now been introduced to OS X. If you still want to be notified of messages but you also don’t want a specific person bothering you all the time, you can now mute individual people, rather than being limited to a blanket Do Not Disturb mode. To access this, open your Messages app, double click the person you wish to mute, click the Details button in the right hand corner and select the Do Not Disturb box.
15. Add widgets to the notification centre
The Notification Centre now has widget capabilities, much like the widgets found in the Notification Centre on the iPhone or iPad in iOS 8. On your Mac, click the three bullet points in the top right hand corner on your menu bar and then click Edit at the bottom of the sidebar that appears. From here you can add or remove widgets that you already have installed on your system. You can also quickly access the App Store at the bottom of the screen, where you can browse, purchase and install additional widgets.
16. Send and receive SMS messages
Thanks to Continuity, any SMS messages you receive on your iPhone can also be read on your Mac, even if the person you’re texting doesn’t own an Apple device. What’s more, you can also send SMS text messages via your Mac using the same feature. To do this, make sure you have the latest version of iOS and that you’re signed into iMessage on your iPhone. You also need to be signed in with the same Apple ID on your phone and your Mac. Now take your iPhone and go to Settings > Messages > Send and Receive > You can Be Reached By and make sure your email address and phone number is selected. Go back to Messages and under Text Message Forwarding, select the device you wish to use. After you’ve entered a security code, you should be able to send and receive SMS messages from your Messages app on your Mac.
17. Annotate images or PDFs in mail
If someone has sent you a PDF or an image as an attachment in an email, you can now annotate it without leaving Apple Mail. To do this, make sure you have ‘Include original attachments in reply’ selected by going to Edit > Attachments in the Mail app’s menu bar. Now that this is enabled, click reply and hover over the image or PDF. A small arrow will appear in the top right hand corner. Click this arrow and select Markup. A new window will open, allowing you to add lines, boxes, text, even your own signature to the PDF/image. Click Done when you’ve finished annotating, before emailing your new version back to the sender.
18. Private browsing
Another great new feature in Safari allows you to set DuckDuckGo (a search engine that claims not to track you) as your default search engine. Click Safari > Preferences > Search and set your Search Engine to DuckDuckGo if you would like to enable this. While we’re on the subject of privacy, it’s worth noting that Private Browsing has now changed a bit. Previously, Private Browsing was either on or off. Now, you’re able to have a private window open as well as a regular window open at the same time. This is a feature that’s been available on rival browsers for years, so it’s nice to see it finally arrive on Safari.
19. iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive functions much like DropBox, allowing you to save your documents, music, photos, videos and numerous other apps and files on Apple’s own file hosting service. This is really useful if you like to work across multiple devices and it’s a great way to back up your files. iCloud Drive is located in your Finder window by default, under favourites. Getting your files on the cloud is as simple as dragging and dropping into the folder. You can also save directly into the folder from most of Apple’s own apps. All users get 5GB of space completely free with up to 1TB of space available for a monthly fee.