Mavericks is the latest version of Apple’s operating system for the Mac (launched in October 2013) and the good news is that it’s free for anyone running OS X Snow Leopard or later. In this feature we share all the Mavericks tips we have discovered over the past few months so that you can discover how to do things in Mavericks - particularly those things you could do in Mountain Lion that seem to have disappeared. We'll add to this from time to time.

We have also published a series of tips on how to master Safari in Mavericks, and tips for how to use Calendar in Mavericks. You can also find our Maps tips here, our Mail on a Mac tips here and you can read our iBooks on a Mac tips here. Finally, read how to use two screens at the same time in Mavericks. You can also read about our favourite 10 Mavericks features here.

To find out more about Mavericks, read our Mac OS X Mavericks Review. Also, find out how to Get your Mac Ready for Mavericks and we answer the question: Mac OS X Mavericks vs Mac OS X Mountain Lion: should I upgrade?

In this feature we look at the following areas of Mavericks:

The Finder (Tags and Tabs)

iCloud Keychain

Notification Centre

Energy Saving features

Dictation in Mavericks

Quick Look

Notes app

The good news about Mavericks is that it's free. This is good news for two reasons: first, it doesn't cost you anything to keep your software up to date; second, because users are up-to-date developers can create apps that make use of Mavericks capabilities, rather than limiting features for the sake of backward compatibility.

However, there’s been some criticism that, while free, this is a very minor update. So minor, in fact, that Apple couldn’t charge for it. Many of the new features are “engineering techniques to make up for Mac hardware limitations,” complains Macworld publisher, Simon Jary. We disagree, and as you’ll see if you read on, there are a lot of new features and technologies that are well worth upgrading for.

Tips to get more out of the Finder in Mavericks

Over the past few years, the various iterations of Mac OS X have sought to minimise the amount of time users spend looking for, and managing, files in the Finder. From system-wide searching via Spotlight (introduced in 2005 with OS 10.4 Tiger) to Launchpad (in 2011 with Lion), Apple has invested effort into offering alternatives to the Finder. This time, the company is refocusing on the Finder, offering new features that are Finder-centric. 

There are a lot of enhancements to the Finder. The new tabbed interface, for example, will probably remind you of Safari, while Apple is encouraging users to categorise files even further by using tags. Designed to make it easier to find the documents you need, they are borrowed from the world of blogging and social networking. In the sidebar of every Finder window you’ll see a list of tags. Click on one and you’ll immediately see all the files on your Mac with that tag. 

You may be thinking that tags are reminiscent of Labels, however, they act in a slightly different way; rather than surrounding the entire name of a file, a small coloured circle appears next to the file’s name. If a file is tagged with more than one coloured tag, you’ll see a stack of circles, slightly overlapping.

Q: How do I open a new tab in the Finder?

1. When you have a Finder window open, click cmd-T to open a new tab. 

2. Alternatively, from inside the Finder window, right-click on the folder you want to access and choose Open in New Tab to open a new Finder window in a new tab.

3. If you want to open a Finder window associated with a folder or a drive listed in the left-hand column of the Finder, hold down the cmd key while clicking the folder you wish to open. 

no4. When you have more than one tab open, you’ll see a small plus (+) in the right corner of the Finder window. Click this to add a new tab. 

Q: How do I get all my open Finder windows in one place?

5. If you have a lot of separate Finder windows open, you can gather them all in one window by choosing Merge All Windows from the Window menu.

6. You can maintain different views in all your Finder tabs. Icons in one, lists in another, for example.

Q: How do I get a Finder window to open in a separate window?

7. You can open a new Finder window by selecting cmd-N. But you can also make an open tab become it’s own Finder window, click on that tab and drag it outside the window. 

8. You can drag and drop files between tabs – drag a file up to the tab and let go. If you want to check the contents of that tab before dropping the file in, drag and hold, and its Finder window will open and become active.

9. The Finder now offers a full-screen mode that will remain open in a separate Space, so you can use the Mission Control button on your keyboard to switch in and out of it.

10. When you save a file, you can assign a tag or tags of your choosing. In every standard Save dialog box in Mavericks, there’s a new Tags box immediately below the text-entry field where you name your file. Select a tag that you’ve already created, or add a new tag by typing into the Tags box, and it will autofill as you type, so you shouldn’t end up creating multiple versions of a tag you’ve already set up.

Q: How do I tag a file or folder?

11. You can add Tags to any file or folder in various ways.  

12. If there’s an overlap, you can give a file with more than one tag, so your handover document could be tagged with work as well as holiday. 

13. If you want to tag a folder or file, right-click and choose Tags, then assign a name for it.

14. There’s also new Edit Tags icon at the top of the Finder window that lets you assign a tag to the item or folder you’ve selected – it looks like a slider switch. 

15. Another way to tag files is to drop them on top of the relevant tag in the left of the Finder window. 

16. To add more than one tag, hit the comma button. 

17. Tags can be several words long.

Q: How do I edit tag names and colours?

18. Set up the tags you think you’ll use and assign colours to them that are logical to you by right-clicking in the pre-assigned tags in the left-hand column (currently named by colour). Right-click on the name and choose Rename.

19. You can assign colours to your tags but there are only eight to choose from, so choose wisely. To assign a colour, right-click on the tag in the menu on the left-hand side of the Finder. If it doesn’t show, All Tags will open the tags in an editable window. 

Q: How do I view the files I've tagged? 

20. A small subset of your tags is listed by default on the left-hand side of the Finder window, but if you click All Tags, a second column will appear that shows every tag on your Mac. You can choose which ones appear in the sidebar by selecting All Tags and adding in the ones you want to appear in the list. 

21. If you tag all the files you create when searching for you ideal holiday, for example, you can view these by selecting the holiday tag on the left-hand side of the Finder. 

22. If you start typing a tag in a Finder window’s search box, you’ll see an option to search for files containing that tag. This doesn’t happen when you use Spotlight to search for an item. 

Q: How do I add an app of file to the Finder tool bar?

23. Pre OS X 10.9 it was possible to add a file or application to the menu bar at the top of the Finder. All you needed to do was drag the file into the bar, and hold it there until it snapped into place. It would then be accessible from that shortcut. This is still possible, but it's less obvious how to accomplish it. Now you must press and hold the cmd key (Apple key) before dragging it into the Finder toolbar.

Q: I don't want to spend all day tagging files, how can I tag my files quickly?

24. It is possible to tag a load of files quickly by setting up a smart folder. To set up a smart folder go to Finder > File > New Smart Folder. Then click the <+> next to Save and create a Condition. The Condition can be file type, documents containing certain words, files created on a specific day, and so on. You can create multiple conditions by clicking <+> beside your first condition. Before you save your Smart Folder, select all the resulting files, then click the Tag button at the top of the window, enter the Tag name or select the relevant Tag, and now close the Smart Folder without closing it. Now every file that met your conditions will be tagged.

25. If you want to keep a Smart Folder, click Save. This will add the folder to the Sidebar in your Finder.

26. You can create a shortcut to Tags. To do so go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts > +. Now choose Application: Finder, and enter Tags… in the Menu field. It needs to be an actual ellipsis not just three ... to create an ellipsis tap -<;>. Now enter a keyvoard shortcut - perhaps -</> and click Add. The next time you select an item in the Finder and press that keyboard shortcut the Tags window will appear.

More Mavericks Tips:

The Finder (Tags and Tabs)

iCloud Keychain

Notification Centre

Energy Saving features

Dictation in Mavericks

Quick Look

Notes app