MacBook in easy steps: Covers OS X Yosemite (10.10) (2015)
Yosemite is the latest operating system for MacBooks. Not only is it fun to use, it also has a raft of features that transform a number of traditional ways for using computers.
About OS X Yosemite
Installing OS X Yosemite
The OS X Environment
About Your Mac
Customizing Your MacBook
The Spoken Word
About OS X Yosemite
OS X Yosemite is the tenth version (10.10) of the operating system for Apple computers; the MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini and Mac Pro. When OS X (pronounced ‘ten’) was first introduced it was a major breakthrough in terms of ease of use and stability. It is based on the UNIX programming language, which is a very stable and secure operating environment and ensures that OS X is one of the most stable consumer operating systems that has ever been designed. More importantly for the user, it is also one of the most stylish and user-friendly operating systems available.
UNIX is an operating system that has traditionally been used for large commercial mainframe computers. It is renowned for its stability and ability to be used within different computing environments.
Through the previous nine versions of OS X, it has been refined and improved in terms of both performance and functionality. This process continues with OS X Yosemite, which further develops the innovations introduced by its two immediate predecessors, OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Mavericks.
When OS X Mountain Lion was introduced, in 2012, it contained a range of innovative functions that were inspired by Apple’s mobile devices: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. This was continued with the next version of the operating system, OS X Mavericks, and now OS X Yosemite. The two main areas where the functionality of the mobile devices has been transferred to the desktop and laptop operating system are:
•The way apps can be downloaded and installed. Instead of using a disc, OS X Yosemite utilizes the Mac App Store to provide apps, which can be installed in a couple of steps.
•Options for navigating around pages and applications with a trackpad or a Magic Mouse. Instead of having to use a mouse or a traditional laptop trackpad, OS X Yosemite allows Multi-Touch Gestures that provide a range of ways for accessing apps and web pages and navigating around them.
Yosemite has a Power Nap function that updates items from the online iCloud service even when a MacBook is in sleep mode. This can be set up by checking On the Wake for Network Access option in the Energy Saver section of System Preferences.
OS X Yosemite continues the evolution of the operating system, by adding more features and enhancing the ones that were already there. This includes greater integration with the online iCloud service, so that a wider range of files and documents can be stored and backed up there and also shared across any other Apple devices that you have. This is done with the iCloud Drive and Family Sharing features (covered in Chapter four), which have also bridged the gap between working on a desktop or a laptop computer and a mobile device, such as an iPad or an iPhone.
Installing OS X Yosemite
When it comes to installing OS X Yosemite you do not need to worry about an installation CD or DVD: it can be downloaded and installed directly from the online Mac App Store. New Macs will have Yosemite installed and the following range of Macs are compatible with Yosemite and can be upgraded with it.
•iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
•MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
•MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
•MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
•Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
•Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
OS X Yosemite is a free upgrade from the App Store if you already have the Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion or Mavericks versions of OS X.
If you want to install OS X Yosemite on an existing Mac you will need to have minimum requirements of:
•OS X Snow Leopard (version 10.6.8), OS X Lion, OS X Mountain Lion or OS X Mavericks
•Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor, or above
•2GB of memory and 8GB of available storage for installation
If your Mac meets these requirements, you can download and install OS X Yosemite, for free, as follows:
Click on this icon on the Dock to access the App Store (or select App Store from the Apple menu)
Locate the OS X Yosemite icon (this will be on the Featured page or within the Productivity category)
Click on the Download button and follow the installation instructions
To check your computer’s software version and upgrade options, click on Apple menu > About This Mac from the main Menu bar. See here for details.
The OS X Environment
The first most noticeable element about OS X is its elegant user interface. This has been designed to create a user friendly graphic overlay to the UNIX operating system at the heart of OS X and it is a combination of rich colors and sharp, original graphics. The main elements that make up the initial OS X environment are:
The Dock is designed to help make organizing and opening items as quick and easy as possible. For a detailed look at the Dock, see Chapter Four.
The Apple menu is standardized throughout OS X, regardless of the app in use
Many of the behind-the-scenes features of OS X Yosemite are aimed at saving power on your MacBook. These include time coalescing technologies for saving processing and battery power, features for saving energy when apps are not being used; power saving features in Safari for ignoring additional content provided by web page plug-ins and memory compression to make your MacBook quicker and more responsive.
Menus in OS X contain commands for the operating system and any relevant apps. If there is an arrow next to a command it means there are subsequent options for the item. Some menus also incorporate the same transparency as the sidebar so that the background shows through.
One new feature in OS X Yosemite is that the sidebar and toolbars in certain apps are transparent so that you can see some of the screen behind it. This also helps the upper-most window blend in with the background:
In certain apps with a sidebar, such as the Finder or the Safari sidebar, the background appears behind the sidebar
When you move the window the background behind the sidebar changes accordingly
The red window button is used to close a window. However, this does not quit the app. The amber button is used to minimize a window, so that it appears at the right-hand side of the Dock.
These appear in any open OS X window and can be used to manipulate the window. In Yosemite they have been updated to include a full-screen options, which previously had to be accessed separately from within an app. Use the window button to, from left to right, close a window, minimize a window or maximize a window.
If can app has full-screen functionality, this green button is available:
About Your Mac
When you buy a new Mac you will almost certainly check the technical specifications before you make a purchase. Once you have your Mac, there will be times when you will want to view these specifications again, such as the version of OS X in use, the amount of memory and the amount of storage. This can be done through the About This Mac option that can be accessed from the Apple Menu. To do this:
Click on the Apple menu and click on the About This Mac link
Click on the Overview tab
This window contains information about the version of OS X being used, processor, amount of memory, type of graphics card and serial number
Click on the System Report... button to view full details about the hardware and software on your Mac
The System Report section is also where you can check whether your Mac is compatible with the Handoff functionality (covered here), which is new to OS X Yosemite, but does not work with most Macs before 2012. Click on the Bluetooth section in the System Report to see if Handoff is supported.
Click on the Software Update... button to see available software updates for your Mac
For more information about Software Updates, see here.
This gives information about your Mac’s display:
Click on the Displays tab
This window contains information about your display including the type, size, resolution and graphics card
Click on the Displays Preferences… button to view options for changing the display’s resolution, brightness and color
This contains information about your Mac’s physical and removable storage:
Click on the Storage tab
This window contains information about the used and available storage on your hard disk and also options for writing various types of CDs and DVDs
This contains information about your Mac’s memory, which is used to run OS X and also the applications on your computer:
Click on the Memory tab
This window contains information about the memory chips that are in your Mac
Click on the Memory Upgrade Instructions if you want to upgrade your memory
A page on the Apple website gives instructions for upgrading memory chips for different makes and models of Macs
Always wear an anti-static wristband if you are opening your Mac to insert new memory chips, or any other time when you are working on the components of your Mac.
The Support tab provides links to a range of help options for your Mac and OS X.
The Service tab provides links to service and repair options and also the AppleCare Protection Plan, for extending the initial one-year warranty for your Mac.
Customizing Your MacBook
Background imagery is an important way to add your own personal touch to your MacBook. (This is the graphical element upon which all other items on your computer sit.) There is a range of background options that can be used. To select your own background:
Click on this button in the System Preferences folder
Click on the Desktop tab
Select a location from where you want to select a background
Click on one of the available backgrounds
The background is applied as the Desktop background imagery
You can select your own photographs as your Desktop background, once you have loaded them onto your MacBook. To do this, select the iPhoto folder and browse to the photograph you want.
The General option within System Preferences can be used to change the default color and appearance of buttons, menus and windows within OS X.
In all areas of computing it is important to give as many people access to the system as possible. This includes users with visual impairments and also people who have problems using the mouse and keyboard. In OS X this is achieved through the functions of the Accessibility System Preferences. To use these:
Click on the Accessibility button in the System Preferences folder
Click on the Display button for options for changing the display colors, contrast and increasing the cursor size
Click on the Zoom button for options to zoom in on the screen
Click on the VoiceOver button to enable VoiceOver, which provides a spoken description of what is on the screen
Experiment with the VoiceOver function if only to see how it operates. This will give you a better idea of how visually-impaired users access information on a computer.
Click on the Audio button to select an on-screen flash for alerts and how sound is played
Click on the Keyboard button to access options for customizing the keyboard
Click on the Mouse & Trackpad button to access options for customizing these devices
Click on the Dictation button to select options for using spoken commands
The Audio, Keyboard and Mouse & Trackpad accessibility options have links to additional options within their own System Preferences.
The Spoken Word
OS X Yosemite not only has numerous options for adding text to documents, emails and messages; it also has a dictation function so that you can speak what you want to appear on screen. To set up and use the dictation feature:
Click on the Dictation & Speech button in the System Preferences folder
By default, Dictation is Off
Click on the On button to enable dictation
Click on the Enable Dictation button
Once Dictation has been turned On, it can be accessed in relevant apps by selecting Edit > Start Dictation from the menu bar
Start talking when the microphone icon appears. Click Done when you have finished recording your text
Click on the Text to Speech tab to make selections for dictation
Punctuation can be added with the dictation function, by speaking commands such as ‘comma’ or ‘question mark’. These will then be converted into the appropriate symbols.
The Apple menu (which can be accessed by clicking on the Apple icon at the top left corner of the Desktop or any subsequent OS X window) has been standardized in OS X. This means that it has the same options regardless of the app in which you are working. This has a number of advantages, not least is the fact that it makes it easier to shut down your MacBook. When shutting down, there are four options that can be selected:
•Sleep. This puts the MacBook into hibernation mode, i.e. the screen goes blank and the hard drive becomes inactive. This state is maintained until the mouse is moved or a key is pressed on the keyboard. This then wakes up the MacBook and it is ready to continue work.
•Restart. This closes down the MacBook and then restarts it again. This can be useful if you have added new software and your computer requires a restart to make it active.
•Shut Down. This closes down the MacBook completely once you have finished working.
•Log Out. This logs you out of your current session and closes down your open apps. You can then log back in without turning off your MacBook and return to your previously open apps by using the Resume function, see tip.
When shutting down, make sure you have saved all of your open documents, although OS X will prompt you to do this if you have forgotten.
OS X Yosemite has a Resume function where your MacBook opens up in the same state as when you shut it down. See here for details.