Mac OSX Mavericks has been available (for free) for almost a month. As a user upgrading from Lion, there is some getting used to when using Mavericks. In this post I summarized the features that I liked, as well as some issues with or without a solution.

Mac OSX Mavericks

Productivity Boost

SNS integration in the notification center is a productivity booster for me. I used to use the Google Chrome browser and the FaWave plugin to integrate many SNS altogether. In addition, I always open a tab for gmail. As a result, I kept checking new status from every where in FaWave, which is a huge waste of time.

With Mavericks, I switched my browser to Safari. FaWave is gone, but I do not miss it at all. The minor minutes that I’ve lost in checking SNS status are back, yet publishing my random thoughts become much easier.

Also, I check my emails much less often, and in ‘fact’ I’ve lost nothing out of this. I used to adopt a zero-inbox philosophy with my emails. That’s why I always open a gmail tab in browser so that I archive every message the moment I have processed them. Now I just batch-archive them about once very week, and use the Mail app in Mac OSX Mavericks. There were some problems with Mail integration with gmail at the beginning of the Mavericks release, but now it has been fixed, more or less.

Dictation With Two Taps of the Fn Key

This feature is so useful when I want to write lengthy, informal writings (like most posts in this blog). It simply worked, and the recognition rate of my speech (without any prior training) is amazingly high.

Multiple Displays

Even as a helpless Apple fan, I have to admit that multiple display support in Mac OSX has a long way to go. I am glad that it worked in Mavericks. But there are two things I really feel uncomfortable.

The first is that, there is a menu bar on each screen. Sometimes they are for different apps, and sometimes they are identical (with one of them dimmer). This is simply unnecessary.

Another is that, now you can never put a window in the middle of two displays. If you do, half of the window will in fact be hidden. Maybe this is the price Apple has to pay to make multiple display support work?

Full Screen Support

I find myself putting windows into full screen mode more often than with Lion. As more applications are supporting the full screen mode, it is convenient to take the concept of multiple desktops in Mac OSX into the concept of multiple applications, one on each desktop. Switching between them is easy. The old-schooled ⌘+Tab works, but I also defined a hot corner action that shows me the Mission Control screen.

I used to be a user of Moom, since I cannot get rid of the habit from Windows to maximize the windows on screen. Now with the full screen mode support, I stopped using it. (But I still highly recommend Moom, it is one of the best windows management tools, especially if you have just switched from Windows to Mac.)

There are, however, a few pieces of inconvenience too.

The first is that, apps in full screen mode does not respond to the Show Desktop mouse/keyboard triggers in Mission Control. They do not go away to let me see my desktop. This makes it inconvenient to drag files/text around in between applications or from the desktop.

Also in full screen mode, the compose mail window is just at the center of the screen. You cannot move it a little bit—which is fine—and you cannot do anything outside this window either—even inside Mail—which is not fine. It is very often that I would like to copy a piece of text from another email into the current one. In full screen mode, it seems impossible to achieve this.

Another minor complaint for full screen support is that it is now much easier to forget the time.

Problems with Some Java Programs

Occasionally, when you install a Java program distributed in a jar, the system will tell you that the jar is broken. This is due to a new feature of Mavericks that prevents harmful app from running. Example applications that I use include Uppaal and Freemind.

To fix it, go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General, and select “Anywhere” in the “Allow apps downloaded from:” section.

The distnoted Process

I have seen system in high load quite a few times after I upgraded to Mavericks while I was doing no apparent heavy computation. When I check in the Activity Monitor, it turns out that it is because of the distnoted process taking more than 100% CPU time.

According to my online search, distnoted is a system process that is responsible for distributing messages throughout the entire system. Yet I do not know what contributes to the high volumes of messages at the times of system slow-downs. I have not seen this situation in a week for now, but any hints why this can happen is appreciated.

Keyboard Shortcut Conflict in Input Methods

There is an annoying thing in Mavericks about the conflict of keyboard shortcuts. I use the system input methods for typing Chinese, and the key stroke that switches to the next input method in the list is ⌃+⌘+Space. This is the default key combination that has been there for years.

However, in Mavericks, this blissful key combination is taken by the Show Character Viewer menu item. What’s worse, there seems no way to change it. I have posted a question in the Apple online community (my first ever!) hoping to get an answer for this.