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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.

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.

The interface

What's this I hear about a revamped user interface?

You've heard correctly. Taking a cue from iOS 7, Yosemite now features transparency not only on the menu bar, but applied to windows and other small interface features, as well.

You'll also find that Apple has dispensed with the 3D design elements of old in lieu of flatter, more colorful surfaces. Toolbars have also been simplified. For example, in Safari, the Favorites bar no longer appears by default; instead, you find Favorites when you click in a window's smart-search field. Yosemite also uses a new System font, Helvetica Neue.

But why? I hate the translucent menu bar!

You aren't alone. Lots of people have been hating on the translucent menu bar since its initial debut back in OS X 10.5 Leopard. But that vocal minority doesn't seem to have swayed Apple. You will still be able switch off the translucent menu bar, though.

Is there any way to turn off window translucency, the way you can turn off menu-bar translucency?

As in iOS 8, you will be able to greatly reduce the transparency by visiting System Preferences > Accessibility > Display > Reduce Transparency.

How weird is Helvetica Neue as the system font?

It's initially a bit of a shock if you're used to Mavericks and older versions of OS X. But once that shock wears off, the font is fine, and it certainly matches the overall visual of Yosemite better than Mavericks's Lucida Grande would have. On a Retina display, the thinner font especially shines.

The Dock looks strangely new-but-familiar. What's up with that?

Back in OS X 10.4, the Dock was two-dimensional: a translucent background that separated app icons from the desktop. Starting in OS X 10.5, however, Apple changed the Dock's bottom position to render in 3D (unless you performed a Terminal tweak. With Yosemite's new flat UI, the Dock is back to being 2D again. We like it a lot from what we've seen so far, and it otherwise behaves just like the Dock we're used to: You will be able to resize and reposition it, hide it, and so on.

 

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