What everyone should know about OS X Mavericks: Security, Bootable Drive, Displays and Power

Macworld Staff
23 April, 2014
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When Apple releases a new version of OS X, we tend to stick with the way we did things in the old OS, ignoring fresh features in the new one. Eventually we try the new things, and gradually they become the old habits we stick with when the next new OS X comes out. Well, it’s time to adopt the novel features in OS X Mavericks as your new normal.

Mavericks has plenty to like and it’s not that hard to get up to speed. So strap on your learning cap, and master the unknown.

For information on Tabs, Tags and Notifications, click here.




The new iCloud Keychain can help you manage personal info safely.
By Joe Kissell.

Assuming that you aren’t already wedded to a third-party password-manager such as 1Password, the new iCloud Keychain can be a huge help: like those third-party tools, it securely stores confidential information that you need to enter all the time – such as passwords and credit-card numbers – and makes that info available from any device that syncs to your iCloud account. Give it a try!



Turn it on. Open the iCloud pane of System Preferences. Put a check in the Keychain checkbox, enter your Apple ID password and click OK.

Create an iCloud security code. You’ll next be prompted to create and confirm an iCloud Security Code. By default the code is four digits long; to use more digits, click Advanced.

You’ll also be asked to enter a mobile phone number where you can receive SMS messages to confirm this code. iCloud will warn you if your code is too easy to guess. (To change your code later on, go to the iCloud preference pane and click Account Details.)

Approve other devices. Once your Mac is set up, move on to your iPhone and other devices. Enabling iCloud Keychain works the same way, except that after you enter your Apple ID password, you’ll be prompted to choose a method to approve access: either the iCloud security code you set up or ‘Approve from Other Device’. (Choosing the latter option means that a notification will appear on all of your other devices that have iCloud Keychain enabled with the same account.

You can use Safari’s own preferences window to manage the kinds of data stored in iCloud, including arranging for Safari to autofill specific web forms with previously stored information. 

On a Mac, open the iCloud pane of System Preferences, click the Details button located next to Keychain, enter your password, and click Allow; on an iOS device, enter your Apple ID password when prompted to do so, and then tap Allow.)

Enable Safari. Choose Safari > Preferences, click AutoFill and make sure that all desired categories are selected. When you visit a site in Safari for which you’ve previously stored a username and password, the fields should autofill.

Generate new passwords. To generate a new, random password for a site on which you’re setting up an account, first make sure the Password field is blank and then click or tap in it. Safari will suggest a password; tap it to fill in that password and save it in iCloud Keychain.

Store credit card numbers. When you enter a number the first time, Safari prompts you to save it. Later, when you see a blank Credit Card Number field in Safari, click or tap in that field to display a list of credit card numbers you’ve stored in iCloud Keychain; then select the one you want. You’ll still have to type in your card’s verification code.

View or remove saved passwords. First choose Safari > Preferences, and then simply click Passwords.



When your system fails, an OS X recovery drive can be a lifesaver. Here’s how to make one.

By Dan Frakes

Mavericks is available only as a download from the Mac App Store, and the downloadable installer doesn’t require a bootable installation disc. But if you want a bootable Mavericks installer, you can create one fairly easily.



Look at the date next to Updated (or Released) in the Info box on the Mavericks page of the Mac App Store Then locate your downloaded copy of the Mavericks installer.

In the Finder, choose File > Get Info, and look at the date next to Modified. If the Mac App Store date is newer than the Modified date on your copy of the installer, redownload the installer to get the latest version.

To get it, you must first delete your current copy of the installer and then redownload the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store. If the Mac App Store won’t let you redownload the installer, quit the Mac App Store app, relaunch it, and Option-click the Purchases tab in the toolbar; the Download button should appear next to Mavericks in the Purchases list.

You can create a bootable OS X install drive in any of three ways: by using a new feature (called createinstallmedia) built into the Mavericks installer itself, by using Disk Utility, or by using the third-party utility DiskMaker X.

Before you can begin creating a recovery drive for OS X Mavericks, you must first download the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store to get the latest version of the operating system. 

The first method’s only downside is that it doesn’t work in Snow Leopard. We had trouble with DiskMaker X in our Mavericks testing, so we won’t explain the third method here.

Whichever method you use, you’ll need a Mac-formatted drive (a hard drive, a solid-state drive, a thumb drive or a USB stick) that can accommodate the installer and its data; we recommend using at least an 8GB flash drive, but anything larger than roughly 5.5GB should work. The drive you use must also be formatted with a GUID Partition Table.

Download the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store, and confirm that it’s in your main Applications folder. (The Terminal command we use here assumes that the installer is in its default location.)



Connect a properly formatted 8GB (or larger) drive to your Mac. Rename it Untitled. (The command assumes the drive is named Untitled.)

sudo /Applications/ Install\ OS\ X\Mavericks. app/Contents/Resources/ createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath/ Applications/Install\OS\ X\ Mavericks.app –nointeraction 

At the Terminal command line, type – in a single line – all of the text displayed above. Press Return.
Note: This step erases the destination drive or partition, so make sure it doesn’t contain any valuable data.

When prompted to do so, type in your admin-level account password.

The Terminal window will report the progress of the process as Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%… 20%… and so on. Wait until you see the words ‘Copy Complete’; the process could take 30 minutes, depending on how fast your Mac copies data to your destination drive.

At the Terminal command line, you’ll have to type a very long character string (with some letter spaces thrown in) to create your recovery drive. 

You now have a bootable Mavericks install drive.


Find Disk Utility, the app built into OS X, in /Applications/ Utilities. (Disk Utility may not be able to create a Recovery HD partition if the Mac’s drive doesn’t already have one.)

Once you’ve downloaded Mavericks, find the ‘Install OS X Mavericks.app’ installer on your Mac. It should have downloaded to your main Applications folder (/Applications).

Right-click or Control-click the installer, and choose Show Package Contents from the resulting contextual menu.

In the resulting folder, open Contents and then Shared Support; you’ll see a disk image file called InstallESD.dmg. In the Finder, double-click InstallESD.dmg to mount its volume; it will appear in the Finder as ‘OS X Install ESD’.

The file you want to get to is BaseSystem. dmg, a disk image inside OS X Install ESD. BaseSystem.dmg is invisible, however; and because this is a read-only volume, you can’t make BaseSystem.dmg visible. So instead, you’ll mount it using Terminal, which makes it visible in Disk Utility.

Open Terminal, type open / Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/ BaseSystem.dmg, and press Return.

In /Applications/Utilities, launch Disk Utility. In the volumes list on the left, you’ll see InstallESD.dmg (with its mounted OS X Install ESD volume below it) and BaseSystem.dmg (with its mounted OS X Base System volume below it).

Select BaseSystem.dmg (not ‘OS X Base System’) in Disk Utility’s sidebar, and click the Restore button in the main part of the window. Drag the BaseSystem.dmg icon into the Source field on the right (if it isn’t already there).

The second method for creating a recovery drive involves working with OS X’s built-in disk Utility app. 


Connect to your Mac the properly formatted hard drive or flash drive that you want to use for your bootable Mavericks installer. In Disk Utility, find this destination drive in the left sidebar. You may see a couple of partitions under the drive – one named EFI, and another with the name listed for the drive in the Finder.

Drag the one with the drive name into the right-hand Destination field. (If the destination drive has several partitions, just drag the partition you want to use as your bootable installer volume.) Again, this step will erase the destination drive or partition, so make sure that it contains no valuable data.

Click Restore, and then click Erase in the dialogue box that appears. If prompted to do so, enter an admin-level username and password. Wait a few minutes for the restore procedure to finish.

Select BaseSystem.dmg (not ‘OS X Base System’) on the left in Disk Utility, and click the Eject button in the toolbar. This action unmounts the disk image named ‘OS X Base System’. (If you don’t do this, you’ll have two mounted volumes named ‘OS X Base System’ – the mounted disk image and your destination drive – which will make the next step more confusing.)

Open the destination drive (which you are using for your bootable install drive and have renamed ‘OS X Base System’). Open the System folder inside that drive, and then open the Installation folder. Delete an alias called Packages there.

Open the mounted OS X Install ESD volume. You’ll see only a folder called Packages. Drag the folder into the Installation folder on your destination drive. Copying this 4.8GB (or so) folder takes some time, especially if you’re copying to a slow thumb drive. Then eject the OS X Install ESD volume. If you’d like to, give your bootable installer drive from OS X Base System a more descriptive new name, such as ‘OS X Mavericks Installer’.



The new features in OS X Mavericks aren’t limited to Tabs and Tags.

By Dan Miller

To this point in our coverage, we’ve focused on ways to speed up your computer workflow and keep your system accessible and uncluttered. But there are many other new features in OS X Mavericks that extend beyond tags, tabs and iCloud Keychain.

In this section, we present tips that should help you take advantage of some of those newly introduced tools, including the operating system’s refined support for multiple displays, for power-management tools and for more-useful notifications.



The second method for creating a recovery drive involves working with OS X’s built-in disk Utility app. 


See the Dock on nonprimary monitors. Usually, the Dock appears only on the primary monitor (by default, that’s the external display). But sometimes that’s not as convenient a place to view it as the other monitor would be.

To see the Dock on your other display, simply move the cursor on the second display’s screen to whichever edge the Dock normally appears on. At once, the Dock will appear there.

Note that, if you use the task switcher shortcut command (Command-Tab), the Dock will appear on whichever monitor it was most recently active on. If you decide that you want it to appear on your main display again, open the Dock there first.

Choose the display that gets the menu bar. To make this choice, go to System Preferences > Displays and open the Arrangement tab. Then drag the little menu bar from one display to another.

Enable multiple workspaces. Arranging to have more than one workspace is easy. Go to System Preferences > Mission Control, and check the box next to Displays Have Separate Spaces. That option allows each of your monitors to have its own set of separate workspaces.



See which apps are consuming the most power, method 1. Click the battery icon in the menu bar, and then examine the entries that you see listed in the section headed ‘Apps Using Significant Energy’.

See which apps are consuming the most power, method 2. In Activity Monitor, open the Energy tab. There, you have the choice of sorting currently active processes either by their current energy impact or by their average energy impact over time.

Keep App Nap enabled. OS X Mavericks includes an under-the-hood technology called App Nap that automatically powers down energy-consuming processes when those processes aren’t in the front-most window – or, in other words, when you aren’t paying attention to them.

If you want to save as much battery power as you possibly can, don’t disable App Nap. (But when you want to, select an app that supports it, press Command-I to open its Get Info window, and then check the Prevent App Nap box.)

Turn off power-hungry plug-ins. In Safari, you can save power by not automatically running things like Flash animations. To arrange this, go to Safari > Preferences, select the Advanced tab, and in the Internet Plug-ins section uncheck the box next to Stop Plug-ins to Save Power.



Reply to messages. Want to do more with notifications than close or snooze? Go to System Preferences > Notifications, find the Share Buttons entry there, and check the box next to Show Share Buttons in Notification Center. That done, you can reply to incoming iMessages in the Messages app directly from notifications.

Skip songs in iTunes. When you’re playing music in iTunes, you can configure it so that a notification appears each time a new song begins. If you hold the cursor over that notification, you should see a Skip button, which you can click to skip to the next track.

Postpone software updates. When you receive a notification that software updates are available, you can postpone installation of those updates for an hour, until later that night, or until the next day. To do so, simply click and hold down the Update button.


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