Mavericks is the first version of OS X not named after a big cat. OS X 10.9, better known as Mavericks, is the 10th iteration of the operating system that powers Apple's desktops and laptops. Unlike previous versions, Mavericks is the first to be named after a place in California instead of a large cat — and the first to be given away by Apple for free. Even so, it still looks and acts very much like its predecessor, Mountain Lion, meaning there's no major learning curve for users who upgrade.
Like iOS 7, Apple's just-updated mobile OS, Mavericks has been stripped of skeuomorphic elements. Unlike iOS 7, the overall user interface has been left largely intact. Instead, Mavericks is focused on refinements throughout the operating system and built-in apps, a few invisible features largely designed to improve laptop battery life and a couple of big additions borrowed from iOS.
Before you install Mavericks, be sure to back up your Mac. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to do a scan of your system using Disk Utility (it's in the Applications > Utilities folder) or with a third-party utility like Disk Warrior, just in case things aren't running as well as they should be. Thousands of files are about to be swapped around your hard drive as you upgrade to Mavericks, so it makes sense to make sure everything is in tip-top condition.
Mavericks is available through Apple's Mac App Store (which can be found under the Apple Menu). Open the App Store and, if Mavericks isn't in the Featured area, click on Updates. OS X Mavericks should be at the top of the list of software you can download and install. Note: You can install Mavericks on any Mac that's authorized with the Apple ID you're using. And it has the same hardware requirements as any Mac that can run Mountain Lion. (You do need to be running at least OS X 10.6.8 — Snow Leopard — to upgrade to Mavericks.)
The Installer downloads to your main Applications folder, so if you're strapped for bandwidth and have multiple machines — or even if you just want to keep a copy of the installer on your computer — make sure to drag the installer out of the Applications folder before you begin the update. (You need to hold down the Command key when you drag the installer to a different location.) If you don't move it to a different location, the installer will delete itself after the upgrade.
The OS X Mavericks installer takes up about 5Gb of space and downloads to the Applications folder.
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