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OS X Yosemite FAQ: Big changes coming to your Mac this fall

Macworld Staff | June 5, 2014
This year's update to OS X has been officially previewed, and we know its California place name: Yosemite. But while developers have access to an early version of the new OS now, regular users will have to wait until the fall to use it (unless they sign up for, and get into, the public beta program). So there are lots of questions swirling around out there about OS X Yosemite; based on what we've learned at WWDC (and from testing out the early OS on a system that Apple loaned to Macworld's Jason Snell), here are answers to some of the most common.

What's changed in Spotlight?

Apple has enabled Spotlight to tap into more information sources and expanded what you'll see in results lists. In addition to the files, apps, contacts, Messages, and other data Spotlight could already find, those sources now include Wikipedia; Bing; Maps; news; movie listings; and the iTunes, Mac App, and iBooks Stores. The Spotlight key command remains Command-Spacebar; if you conduct a normal Finder search by pressing Command-F, online sources won't be searched, just as they weren't in previous versions of the Mac OS.

Spotlight is also now more interactive. Not only will you be able to read a document within a Spotlight preview, but you'll be able to do things like send an email message, make a phone call, or get directions right from the search interface.

Will you be able to have more than one instance of Spotlight search?

Nope, it's just the one search bar. You may, however, see certain Spotlight search results when typing in a Safari window.

What are the chances I'll replace my third-party launcher with Spotlight?

We've been asking this question since Spotlight was introduced, and the answer seems to be the same: Spotlight improvements should make regular users happy; it's even better for quick local queries and for Siri-esque questions about movie showtimes. But more advanced users who rely on third-party launchers to do all sorts of productivity-boosting things will probably want to stick with those tools.

What does System Preferences look like now?

Other than new icons and fonts, it looks very much the same. The only new entry is Extensions: That's where you will enable and disable the extensions that appear in the Services and Share menus and widgets for the Today view within Notifications.

So, with the introduction of extensions and widgets, has Dashboard finally been killed off?

Surprisingly, no! Dashboard remains, but it's switched off by default. You will still enable it within the Mission Control system preference pane. It also exists as a separate app, found in the Applications folder, as always. But Apple is strongly advising developers who still rely on Dashboard to vacate the premises immediately. We'd be surprised if Dashboard survives past this release.

What's changed in Notification Center?

Third-party widgets are the big news in Notification Center. They allow developers to create little code snippets that display things like the current weather, sports scores, bidding in online auctions, and more. In addition, Notification Center takes a page from iOS and brings over the Today view, which provides a summary of your day's events, reminders, and birthdays, along with calendar events for tomorrow.

iCloud and connectivity

How is OS X more closely connected to my iOS devices? Why would I want that?


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