Top Mac OS X Yosemite Tips

xAnswer & Make Phone Calls

If you have an iPhone 5, 6 or later, you can now make and receive phone calls on your Mac computer. You just need to make sure you’re on the same Wi-Fi network and are using the same iCloud account on both devices.

When you’re in the Messages app, go to Preferences -> Accounts and make sure your number is checked, which it more than likely is. Now, anytime you receive a phone call, you’ll get a notification at the top right of your computer screen where you can choose to accept or decline it.

To make a call, go to FaceTime and either enter the number you want to call or hit the phone icon next to a recent number under the Audio tab.

Note: In addition to Yosemite, Wi-Fi calling via iPhone also works on the iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display.

Receive & Send SMS Text Messages

While you’ve been able to send iMessages to other iOS users directly from your computer, regular text messages were still relegated to your iPhone. Now, thanks to SMS Relay, you can send text messages directly from the Messages app on your Mac.

Share Screen & Mute Notifications

Also new in the Messages app for Mac is the ability to share your screen with another person. Just click on Details in the conversation thread and choose either “Invite to share my screen” or “Ask to share screen” from the share screen option.

 Send Voice Messages

If the person you’re communicating with in the Messages app has iMessage as well, you can send them voice messages, just like on iOS 8 or 9. Click on the microphone icon at the bottom right of the Messages window to begin recording.

Enhanced Spotlight Search

Instead of just searching through the apps on your computer, Spotlight search now shows results from iTunes, Wikipedia, suggested websites, your emails, and more. Either click on the Spotlight icon in the top right of the menu bar, or just use the Command+Spacebar shortcut, to start a search.

Use Spotlight as a Calculator & Currency Converter

Spotlight also moonlights as a basic calculator and a currency converter. For instant calculations, use numbers and mathematical symbols in Spotlight (there’s no need to hit enter or anything).

Enter the dollar sign ($) first (or any other currency symbol) and then the amount you want to convert to see the conversions for various popular currencies from around the world.

Predictive Text

While it’s not exactly the predictive text you’re accustomed to on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, Yosemite does have a hidden feature that brings up word suggestions when you’re typing up a sentence.

Press Esc after typing a word and a list of suggestions will appear.

As of now, the feature only seems to be working with TextEdit (and in a few other Apple apps, like Messages, with limited functionality), but once it rolls out to other apps (hopefully Safari and Pages), it will become extremely useful.

Widgets in Your Notification Center

Just like on iOS 8, you can now add widgets to the Notification Center on your computer. Some of the currently compatible third-party apps include Wunderlist (pictured below), 1Password, and Pocket. Stock widgets include Weather, Stocks, Calendar, Reminders, Social, World Clock, and Calculator.

Add a widget by opening the Notification Center (the list-looking icon in the top right of the menu bar, next to the Spotlight icon), clicking on “Edit” at the bottom, then adding each widget manually by clicking on the green plus sign (+) next to it. To remove one, use the red minus sign (-).

Dark Menu Bar & Dock

A little easier on the eyes, Yosemite now has a dark mode that’s helpful when you’re using your computer at night. Head over to System Preferences -> General and check the box next to “Use dark menu bar and Dock.”

Your menu bar and dock will now turn black and dark grey.

Regular mode and Dark mode:

Since there’s no keyboard shortcut by default for this action, Redditor abspam3 (via Lifehacker) figured out how to make one with Terminal. just open up Terminal and type in the following command, followed by the Enter key.

  • sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist _HIEnableThemeSwitchHotKey -bool true

Enter in your password, then log out and back in again, and use the keyboard shortcut Control+Option+Command+T to switch between regular and dark mode.

Use Shift Key to Move Dock

Speaking of the Dock, if you want to reposition it on your screen without going into System Preferences, hover over the Dock’s divider on the far right until your cursor turns into a two sided arrow. Then, hold down the Shift key and drag it where you want.

Find Yosemite’s Hidden Maximize Button

The full-screen button usually located in the top-right corner of an app has been replaced by the green maximize button that sits next to the close and minimize buttons on the other side of the window.

So what happened to the green maximize button? Well, it’s actually still there. Hold down on the Option key and hover over the new green full-screen button; you’ll see it turn into the old maximize button.

Note that if you’re in iTunes and hold down the Option key, the Genius Shuffle option will appear where the back button usually is.

Enable Finder’s Preview Pane

Are your Finder windows looking a little plain? For some users, Yosemite hid some features like Preview. If you want the Preview pane back, go to View in the menu bar and click on Show Preview.

Annotate Attachments in Mail

Through the Mail app on Yosemite, you can now annotate attachments such as pictures, PDFs, documents, and more. All you have to do is attach a file, click on it, then select Markup.

You can draw, add text and shapes, leave a signature, and more on your attachment, all directly through the Mail app.

Use Your TrackPad to Pen Signatures

While you’ve previously been able to scan signatures using the iSight camera on your Mac, Yosemite has a new feature where you can use the trackpad on your MacBook to digitally sign your signature.

Open Preview, click on Markup, and use the signature icon to begin signing with your finger. This also works through the Markup feature in Mail.

Use DuckDuckGo for Private Browsing in Safari

DuckDuckGo is a web browser known for its privacy features, which allows users to surf the web without having their searches saved or their information shared with advertisers.

To set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine in Safari, select Safari in the menu bar and click on Preferences -> Search, then select DuckDuckGo under the “Search engine” option.

View Stacked Tabs in Safari

Through the new “Show all tabs” icon at the top-right corner of Safari, you’ll be able to view your tabs in a more organized manner. If you have several tabs open from the same website, or from Private Browsing, they will show up stacked on top of each other.

Along the bottom, you’ll see any tabs you have open on your iPhone or other iOS device, which is similar to how it works on iOS devices, where your Mac tabs show up underneath iOS tabs.

Close iOS Safari Tabs

As mentioned above, all of the open tabs on your iOS device will appear in Safari on your Mac. In case you want to close some of the tabs on your iPhone, you can do so directly from your computer by hovering over the tab and tapping the X on the far right.

Bring Back Safari Toolbar Features

Safari has received a minimalist redesign and many of the features that you’re accustomed to may not be where you remember. Follow these steps to regain some of the missing or misplaced stuff.

  • Full URL: Preferences -> Advanced -> Show Full Website Address
  • Bookmarks: View -> Show Favorites Bar
  • Tabs: View -> Show Tab Bar
  • Status Bar: View -> Show Status Bar
  • Menu Bar Tools: View -> Customize Toolbar -> Drag icons you want to restore

Your Safari will go from looking like this…

To this…

Record Your iOS Screen

Connect your iOS device to your computer via a Lightning cable and you can easily record its screen by opening QuickTime, going to File -> New Screen Recording, then selecting your device from the list of choices.

If you’ve used QuickTime to record your computer’s screen before, it’s the same process: click the red button to record and the stop button in the menu bar to finish.

Take a 3D Tour of Your Favorite City

Enter a popular city name in the Maps app in Yosemite and you can take a 3D tour that flies you over the city, showing you the sites. Just tap on Start next to the “3D Flyover Tour” box that appears at the bottom. New York, Paris, Tokyo, and London are just a few of the cities that currently work with the feature.

Quickly Connect to Hotspot

If your device (with cellular data) is running iOS 8.1, you can use the Personal Hotspot feature to connect it to your Mac, where you can then use it as an available network, as well as view battery life and connection strength.

Image via


Desktop Tips

macThere are several ways to give your desktop—the background area of your screen—a custom look.

Change your desktop picture

In Desktop & Screen Saver preferences, you can change the picture that’s displayed on your desktop. Your Mac comes with dozens of desktop pictures to choose from, but you can also use your own pictures, or choose a solid color.

Desktop pane of System Preferences
  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Desktop & Screen Saver, then click Desktop.

    Open the Desktop pane for me

  2. Find the picture you want to use:

    • Use a picture that comes with your Mac: Select Desktop Pictures below Apple.

    • Use a solid color: Select Solid Colors below Apple.

    • Use your own picture: Select a location below iPhoto. You can also select Pictures below Folders, if the image you want is in your Pictures folder.

      If your image is in another folder, click Add , navigate to and select the folder, then click Choose.

  3. Click the picture you want on the right.

Use a screen saver

You can choose to have a screen saver start when you aren’t using your Mac. You might want to use a screen saver to hide the items on your desktop while you’re away.

Screen Saver pane of System Preferences
  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Desktop & Screen Saver, then click Screen Saver.

    Open the Screen Saver pane for me

  2. Click the screen saver you want on the left.

    Previews are shown on the right.

  3. Set any screen saver settings below the screen saver preview on the right. If necessary, click Screen Saver Options.

    For example, click the Source pop-up menu to choose the location with the pictures you want to see in the screen saver.

  4. Click the “Start after” pop-up menu, then select an amount of time. The screen saver starts automatically after your Mac has been inactive for that amount of time.

  5. Select “Show with clock” to show the time when your screen saver is on.

  6. Click Hot Corners to set a shortcut for starting your screen saver.

To stop the screen saver and return to the desktop, press any key, move the mouse, or touch the trackpad.

If you want more security when you stop the screen saver, see Require a password after waking your Mac.

Make your menu bar and Dock dark

You can give your desktop a darker look by setting your menu bar and Dock to be dark.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click General.

    Open General preferences for me

  2. Select “Use dark menu bar and Dock.”

Change button, menu, window, and highlight colors

Use the General pane of System Preferences to choose new colors for buttons, menus, windows, and highlighted text.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click General.

    Open General preferences for me

  2. Click the Appearance pop-up menu, then choose the color you want.

  3. Click the “Highlight color” pop-up menu, then choose the color you want.


Get to know the desktop

At the top of your screen is the menu bar. At the bottom of your screen is the Dock. In between is the desktop.
Example of a desktop

Menu bar

The menu bar contains the Apple menu, app menus, status menus, Spotlight, and Notification Center. For more information, see What’s in the menu bar?

Menu bar


Your computer’s desktop takes up most of your screen, and it’s where you do most of your work. To customize the desktop, see Give your desktop a custom look. When you open apps, the app’s windows appear over the desktop. For information about working with app windows, see Window basics.

If you have files on your desktop, you can organize them at any time.


Use the Dock to quickly access apps, documents, and folders. To open items from the Dock, just click them. For example, to open the Finder—the home base for your Mac—just click the Finder icon (the icon with the smiling face). For more information about the Finder, see See your files in the Finder.

Finder icon in Dock

To easily open apps that aren’t in the Dock, use Launchpad.


OS X Quick Tips


PDF signature

No need for a paper and pen. You can now sign PDF forms using your Mac’s trackpad. Simply click the Sign button in Preview’s annotation toolbar and trace your signature on the pad with your finger.


Activating Spotlight with Command-Space now brings up a search box in the centre of your desktop. It no longer just searches your Mac for files either. It also retrieves news headlines, maps, Bing web search results, iTunes store media, and it can even convert currencies on the natch.

Green button goes fullscreen

In Mavericks, the green button at the top left of windows is better known as the zoom button. But in OS X Yosemite, it takes windows full-screen. You can still access the traditional functionality however by holding the Alt/Option key when clicking the traffic light.

Record output from an iOS device

Want to record a live screencast of apps or games running on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad? With iOS 8 and Yosemite, you can. Simply attach the device to your Mac using a Lightning cable and it shows up as a video input source in QuickTime. You can then capture anything you’re doing on-screen and store it as a video file.

Check compressed memory

OS X utilises memory compression features when resources are tight, making the system more efficient at passing data from place to place. Activity Monitor’s Memory tab now displays how much your Mac relies on compressed memory, which can be a good indicator of how much you’d benefit from a RAM upgrade.

Safari Tabs

The way Safari organises your browser tabs has changed. You can still switch between tabs in the horizontal strip above the main window, but click the new Tab View button in the top right corner of the toolbar and you get thumbnail previews of all open tabs. Multiple open pages from a single site are stacked on top of each other, while below these are iCloud tabs open on your other devices in a layout reminiscent iOS 7.

Duck Duck Safari

In addition to the typical search engines Safari has traditionally aligned with, you now have the option to choose DuckDuckGo as your default search service. For those late to the private party, DuckDuckGo is a slick search engine that doesn’t track your search activity or share personal information with advertisers or security agencies.

Safari Private Browsing window

Continuing the theme, Safari now allows you to create a separate window of tabs exclusively for private browsing (meaning your actions are not saved or tracked), while enabling you to also maintain separate windows that aren’t set to be private.

Markup in Mail

Apple Mail has aped Preview’s annotation tools. Now, whenever you add an image to an email you’re composing, a down-facing chevron appears in its top-right corner. Clicking this reveals the option to mark up the image with shapes, text and arrows to make your point clearer to your recipient.

Dashboard off by default

Some old-school OS X users may be rankled at the apparent disappearance of the Dashboard in Yosemite. Actually, it hasn’t been removed; it’s just disabled by default – you can switch it back on in Mission Control’s System Preference pane if you still find it useful.

Notification Center overhaul

Notification Center in Yosemite doesn’t just import iOS 7’s Today view. Apple has also opened it up to third-party widgets with what it’s calling ‘Today Extensions’. This will allow developers to feed bespoke information into Notification Center – think your favourite football team’s next fixture or eBay auctions you’re watching, for example.

AirDrop advanced

AirDrop has seen significant improvement in Yosemite. It now works between Macs and iOS devices that don’t share the same local network or have an internet connection. It also now works on older Macs that missed out in previous versions of OS X. Not only that, you don’t need Finder to be open on the recipient’s Mac to initiate a Drop (although it still needs to be authorised at the receiver’s end).

Mail Drop

Everyone’s experienced the frustration of an email not arriving at its intended destination because of an attachment the server deemed too big to handle. In Yosemite, Mail gets round this with Mail Drop, in which large attachments are now uploaded to your iCloud account. If the recipient is also using Mail they see the file just as if it was attached to the email; if they aren’t using Mail, they get a link to download it instead. Note that the size of an attachment will be limited to the free space on your iCloud account.

Soundbites in Messages

You can now send quick voice memos to your Messages contacts with the new Soundbites feature. These disappear shortly after the recipient has read them, but you can choose to save them if you wish. You can also now send short video clips or multiple images directly from within Messages.

Message/iPhone tones

One new feature Apple is rightly proud of is Yosemite’s ability to make and receive iPhone calls. Tied to that is Messages’ ability to send and receive SMS and MMS messages linked to your iPhone number. As a result of this extended phone service, Messages has also inherited all the ringtones of iOS, allowing you to match or differ the sound your Mac and your iPhone make when a message or call is incoming.

Batch rename

Batch renaming files in OS X used to require installing a third-party app or a trip to Automator. No more. In Yosemite, you simply click-drag a selection box over the files in Finder you wish to rename, right-click and select the Rename XX items… option in the dialog.

Screensharing in Messages

Previously screen sharing was only possible in Messages using a third-party service such as AIM. However now Apple has implemented a built-in screen sharing feature that operates automatically over iMessage accounts, meaning you don’t have to set up anything in order to help or receive Mac assistance from a friend or colleague remotely. Simply initiate a Message conversation and click on the Details button in the top right-hand corner of the screen and select the ‘Invite / Ask to share my screen’ button indicated by two overlapping rectangles.

Group messages

Not only can you initiate group chats in iMessage, you can also add and remove participants in your ongoing chat, as well as change the chat thread name (which will subsequently appear on all devices). Using the new Details button, you can also enable Do Not Disturb on individual chats to opt out of the conversation without terminating it.

Dark mode

Dark Mode was demoed on stage at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference as an option to benefit those who prefer to save their eyesight from glare at night as well as photographers and video editors who manipulate colour. You can turn it on via the ‘Use dark menu bar and dock’ toggle in the General pane of System Preferences.

Safari bookmarks

Just like iOS, your website bookmarks and bookmark folders can now be quickly accessed simply by left-clicking Safari’s address bar. Below your bookmarks you’ll also see links to those sites you’ve most frequently visited.

Double-click to zoom

For those who miss the instant action of the green maximise traffic light, try double-clicking an empty part of a window’s toolbar – it should automatically resize the window to fit its content. Note that this functionality may not work on third-party apps and later versions of iTunes.

Finder preview pane

Previously Finder’s file preview pane was restricted to Column view, but in Yosemite you can make it visible in any view mode you like. From the menu bar, choose View > Show Preview to turn it on.

Accessibility improvements

Not everyone gets on with transparency. Happily you can reduce its effect significantly in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences. What’s more, you can change the contrast level of windows and borders as well as increase the overall contrast of your display if you find Yosemite’s new look not so easy on the eye.

Calendar suggestions

Calendar in Yosemite is a little more intelligent than previous iterations and now learns from previous events in order to auto-complete event details as you input them – this includes likely attendees and even suggested dates to schedule the event. The more you use Calendar, the more accurate it becomes at predicting your schedule.

RSS feeds in Safari

RSS feed subscriptions are back in Safari. Simply click on the RSS feed icon in a web page and Safari will prompt you to OK the subscription, whereafter it will appear in the Shared Links sidebar alongside your other shared links piped in from Twitter and so on.

Install OS X 10.10 Yosemite

You can install OS X to a choice of media, such as USB drive, SD Card or an external hard drive connected via USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire or Thunderbolt.

It is possible, theoretically, to run OS X from any of these different types of media though–practically speaking–it is probably best to choose USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. This is down to the transfer speeds possible. With USB 2.0 the experience is quite slow.

You should also note that it is not normally possible to install a version of OS X prior to the version that originally shipped with the particular Mac that you are using.  For example, if the Mac originally shipped with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, then it is not normally possible to install OS X 10.7 Lion.

Whilst the OS X installers are much smaller, you will need to factor in approximately 10GB for the installed version of OS X. If you are using a USB Flash Drive, or an SD Card, it will need to be 16GB or greater in capacity.

For the best possible experience, we recommend using this technique in the following circumstances:

  • Testing a later version of OS X to the one you are running on the Mac
  • Using USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt external drive, or
  • Using USB flash drive (16GB or greater)

We do not particuarly recommend using an SD Card or a USB 2.0 external drive.  They’ll work, but they are quite slow.

The process for installing OS X on an external volume is quite straight-forward. Essentially, it’s just the downloading of the particular OS X installer required, the correctly formatting of an external volume and the installation of OS X.

Connect an external drive
  • Connect an external drive to the Mac.  In this example the drive is a 1TB USB 3.0 external hard drive that is preformatted in the Microsoft File Allocation Table (FAT) format.
Partitioning, naming and formatting the external hard drive
  • Select the hard drive in the left hand pane, as shown, and click thePartition tab
  • Ensure that 1 Partition is selected int he Partition Layout field
  • If you wish, name the drive in the Name field
  • Select the Options… button
Ensuring that the external drive is correctly formatted
  • Select GUID Partition Table to allow the external drive to be used as a startup volume with a Mac.
Confirming the partitioning, and formatting, of the external volume

Check the confirmation dialogue box and, if in agreement with the proposed action, click Partition to format the external volume.

Downloading an OS X installer from the Mac App Store

Open the Mac App Store application and navigate to the Purchasespane. Provided that you have previously purchased them, you should seeLion and/or Mountain Lion, though they may show as Installed.  Note, Yosemite is only available to registered Apple developers at the time or writing, so you’ll not see this option in the Mac App Store.

To download the installer, hold down the Option key and click thePurchases tab.  The button to the right of the app should change toInstall.

Use Spotlight to find OS X Installers that are already on the Mac

If that does not work, search for the installer on the Mac, as it may already have been downloaded.  Open Spotlight and type Install OS X to find the required installer.

This example shows how to install OS X 10.10 Yosemite, though the procedure remains the same for OS X 10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion and 10.9 Mavericks.

Launch the OS X installer

Launch the OS X installer that was downloaded from Mac App Store. The installer is normally located in the Applications folder.

You may have found it, instead, using Spotlight.

Read the terms and conditions.  You’ll need to Agree to them in order to continue with the installation.

Click the button Show All Disks…

Be aware that only the hard drive in the Mac will be shown by default. Click the button that says Show All Disks… to reveal other volumes that are attached to the Mac.

Select the appropriate external volume onto which OS X is to be installed

Select the external volume to which you’d like to install the operating system.  In this example, I am installing OS X 10.10 Yosemite to the external volume Yosemite 1TB from a Mac that is running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Installing OS X to the external drive volume

A progress bar will indicate the status of the installation of the software to the external volume.

Click the Restart button to restart the Mac, or wait 30 seconds for a restart

The Mac will then count down from 30 seconds before restarting unless you click the Restart button within this timeframe.

The Mac will then restart

The Mac will then restart and finish the installation process on the external hard drive.

When the Mac restarts, it will reboot into the version of OS X that you’ve installed to the external volume.  In my example, it’s OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

When you boot the Mac, listen out for the startup chime.  Immediately after the chime sounds, press and hold down the Option key (sometimes marked Alt).

After a short time, you will be presented with a screen similar to the one shown above.  Use the left and right arrow keys to navigate to the external volume, in my example an external 1TB USB 3.0 drive, and pressEnter.

Navigating to Apple > System Preferences > Startup Disk

If you are currently using your Mac and wish to reboot to a different volume, open up System Preferences by clicking on the Apple on the lefthand side of the menu bar.

Select the appropriate startup disk into which to boot next time the Mac is turned on

Select Startup Disk then choose which volume from which you wish to boot you restart the Mac.

OS X Yosemite News